Starting a Career as a Dental Hygienist

tasks for a dental hygienist

The main purpose of this site is to share information on how to become a dental hygienist and what’s involved once you reach that goal. Points like understanding the job descriptions and education requirements will be the focus of today’s post. I hope you like it.

Overview of a dental hygienist

As you know a dental hygienist who work under the supervision of a licenced dentist, assisting them with the oral health care of their patients. Being responsible for giving patience correct advice on oral hygiene will be just one main task that a dental hygienist completes on a daily basis. They also complete tasks like assessments and general teeth cleaning procedures.

Career options

There are a number of paths a hygienist may take once qualified. You can join a local dental practice or even work in a speciality dental clinic that offers services like full dental implants or invisible braces to its patients.

No matter which you decide, make sure that you always take precautions to avoid spreading infectious diseases and be ready to spend a lot of time standing or leaning over patients.

What are the career requirements

Put simply, you need a degree in dental hygiene to become a dental hygienist. There are further education paths like completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the same field that will help to advance your career and increase job prospects.

What’s involved in the degree

Once you being your degree in dental hygiene, be ready to focus on learning about all of the software, tools and the various machines that you’ll be using on a daily basis. Most courses include training on oral pathology, dental materials, infection control, pain management and pharmacology.

You will need to have strong interpersonal skills. Working closely with patients each day and explaining the procedures to each of them is a standard task. Being companionate is very important as patients can have a fear of dentists or have a low pain tolerance level.

Training Recommendation

 Since you’ll be standing most of the time, it’s a great idea to check if your education provider offers a course in body mechanics. It may be included in your training, however since you will be at risk of occupational injury through standing and leaning in awkward positions, having a good understanding of how to counter that is important. If it’s not included in your degree, there are plenty of courses offered online that you can complete.

Other Skills & Information

Beyond completing your degree, working on improving your dexterity, decision making and critical thinking skills is vital for becoming a dental hygienist. There are also licencing options to consider. These will depend on the state where you work.

As of December 2015, the average salary for a dental hygienist was $72,720 based on information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The 3 main steps to becoming a dental hygienist

Complete you undergraduate degree

A dental hygienist will commonly hold an associate’s degree such as the Associate for Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. A 2 year training program is available at most community colleges and vocational institutes in your nearest city. This training will include both classroom and clinical studies.

Getting Licenced

All the U.S states require a dental hygienist to be licenced, however the requirements can and do vary for each area. Nearly all states require that you hold postsecondary credentials from an accredited training institute. Other requirements include CPR certification, your training transcripts and any letters of recommendations that you have available

To receive your licence you will need to complete the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. This is a written exam that is overseen by the American Dental Association. After this you complete a regional or state clinical board examination depending on the rules in your state.

Advancing your career

Once you’ve reached your goal to work as a dental hygienist, you can further advance your career through additional training in the form of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These further education can help to secure roles beyond the dental office and get you into teaching and research positions faster. There are some public health positions to do require these advanced degrees to secure any positions.