Preparing For A Career As A Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are responsible for removing plaque and tartar from their patients teeth, teaching their patients how to utilize the best oral hygiene, and providing patients with preventative dental care. They work in close relationships with dentists and usually prepare the patients for the dentist.
In order to adequately perform their assigned tasks, dental hygienist have to wield a variety of different tools. These tools include rotary instruments used to clean teeth, and polishing tools used to polish teeth. Dental hygienists may also use x-ray machines to document the condition of their patient’s teeth, and are sometimes charged with developing the x-ray film.
Dental Hygienist Schools By State
Other tasks that a dental hygienist may perform varies from State to State. Some States allow dental hygienist administer general anesthetics, while other States limit them to administering local anesthesia. Sometimes dental hygienist are allowed to perform additional dental procedures which may include removing sutures, carve dental filling materials, and smooth metal restorations.
Career Outlook For The Dental Hygienist
Employment for dental hygienists is predicted to grow by thirty-six percent by the year 2020. This job growth is faster than the average for all other occupations. This makes the field of dental hygiene on of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. This exceptional rate of growth is due to the increasing needs for dental care among an older population. It is also due to the increasing demand for preventative dental care. To accommodate these demands, the number of dental hygienists employed by dentist’s offices and hospitals will rise dramatically.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Work Environment For Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are employed in clinics, hospitals and dental offices. Dental hygienists must adequately protect themselves from infectious diseases while they are working by wearing gloves, masks and safety glasses. They must also ensure that safeguards are adequately maintained when they are working with anesthetic gas or performing radiological procedures.
Dental hygienists must also be flexible in their work schedule. It is not uncommon for these professionals to work evening and weekend schedules. They may also be employed on a part-time or full-time basis. Many dental hygienist are regularly scheduled by dentist offices to work only a few days a week. Because of this fact, many dental hygienists work at several different dental offices. Half of all professionals in this field work a part-time schedule of less than forty hours per week.
Training For The Dental Hygienist
Before applicants can seek employment in the dental hygiene field, they must receive a degree from an accredited dental hygiene school. Before an applicant is admitted to a dental hygiene school they must possess a high school diploma and pass their college entrance test. High school students who are looking to become dental hygienists should take courses in chemistry, mathematics and biology. Some dental hygiene programs require students to have completed at least one year of college education.
There are over three hundred dental hygiene programs that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Most of these programs grant graduates from their school a degree, while others offer only a certificate. Those programs that offer degrees usually offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Dental hygienists who want to work in a research or teaching facility must have one of these degrees.
Dental hygienist programs offer instruction in a diverse range of different subjects which include radiography, pharmacology, chemistry, anatomy, histology, physiology and nutrition. These programs may also require the students to take courses in behavioral science, pathology and clinical dental hygiene.
Dental Hygienist Licensing
In order for dental hygienists to apply their trade, they must receive a license in the State they practice. Just about every State requires that dental hygienists graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school. Applicants must also pass extensive written and clinical examinations. The written examinations is administered by the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. The clinical examination is administered by a regional or State testing facility. The only State that doesn’t currently require an American Dental Association exam for dental hygienists is Alabama. Applicants from this state must pass the Alabama Dental Hygiene Program instead.
Salary For Dental Hygienists
The salary that a dental hygienist receives is largely dependent on the the employment setting of the hygienist, their geographic location, and how much experience the hygienist currently has. New hygienist generally make under $45,000 per year, while the middle fifty percent of dental hygienist make around $60,000 per year. The top earning dental hygienists generally make in excess of $91,000 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Benefits for dental hygienist is dependent on their employment setting and whether they have full-time employment. According to a survey conducted by the American Dental Hygienist Association, only half of working hygienists reported receiving benefits in one form or another. For the other half who did receive benefits, retirement plans, paid vacation and sick leave were the most common benefits offered employees.