A dental hygienist is a skilled healthcare professional who is responsible for cleaning patient’s teeth to prevent dental decay. They need to perform a wide range of duties. They typically work in dental offices and need to provide proper instructions regarding dental hygiene to people. This is an interesting job for those who want to work directly with people.
Dental Hygienist Job Description
Cleaning teeth, examining patients for signs of dental diseases and providing other preventive dental care are the primary duties of dental hygienists. They also provide proper information to patients regarding the ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Dental hygienist job description include:
* Remove stains, tartar and plaque from teeth
* Take and develop dental X-rays
* Apply fluorides and sealants to protect teeth
* Prepare treatment plans
* Teach patients oral hygiene techniques
* Take dental radiographs and impressions of teeth
* Apply antibacterial materials to prevent tooth decay
* Carry out monitoring and screening procedures
* Help patients to prevent gum diseases
* Use a range of dental instruments
Dental hygienists need to work under the direct supervision of licensed dentists. They are not qualified to do the same duties and procedures of dentists. However, they need to do basic dental care tasks. Dental assistants work directly with dentists. But the hygienists can see patients and perform their tasks directly.
To work as a dental hygienist, you must show compassion to the patients. Sometimes, the patients will be in extreme pain. They may also have fears about the dental treatment. A hygienist must be able to understand their feelings and emotions. You must also be able to follow some protocols and specific rules to help dentists diagnose and treat patients. So you must be detail oriented. Physical stamina, interpersonal skills, and dexterity are the other personal qualities needed for a dental hygienist.
How to Get a Dental Hygienist Job
If you want to become a licensed dental hygienist, you must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene exam. This is a comprehensive written test. This examination has two parts. One part tests and assesses the knowledge of test-takers in scientific facts and principles relating to dental hygiene. The future hygienists need to assess patients on the basis of charts and photographs. They are also asked to select appropriate treatment for these patients.
You will be able to appear for regional dental hygienist exam once you pass the national examination. Demonstration of clinical skill is the major part of this regional examination. The candidate will get actual person during their examination and they need to remove plaque, tartar or calculus from the teeth. You must also be able to check pockets between gums and teeth. You can determine the possible inflammation or infection by doing so.
In order to make a wonderful career in the field of dental hygiene, you must have manual dexterity skills and good eyesight. You must also be able to concentrate for long periods because the dental hygiene procedure is too lengthy. You must also have a confident, friendly, mature and caring manner. Effective listening, team-working, communication and interpersonal skills are essential for getting a job as dental hygienist.
In order to work as a legal dental hygienist in the United States, you must have a license from the state where you are going to work. To obtain a license, you must be a graduate from an accredited degree program and must pass the national and state/region specific examination.
Dental Hygienist Job Qualifications
Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene is needed for entering in this career field. Bachelor’s degree is not common in dental hygiene. However, bachelor’s or master’s degree is required for teaching, research or clinical practice in school or public health programs. Universities, vocational schools and community colleges conduct courses in dental hygiene. You can apply for this training program if you are a high school student. In order to get an admission in dental hygiene course, you must be excellent in math, chemistry, biology and health courses. Two years is needed for completing an associate degree program in dental hygiene. Classroom instruction, clinical and laboratory training are offered by most schools. The courses include:
* Clinical science
Job Market for Dental Hygienist
According to the predictions of Bureau of Labor Standards, the average job growth of dental hygienist is 33 percent. Today, people are more aware of oral health. So, the demand of dental hygienist is showing an upward trend. Lots of researches are carrying out in the field of general and oral health. This will also push up the demand for preventive oral services. When the practice of dentists increases, they will hire more dental hygienists. So, the dentists can handle more patients. Due to the latest federal health legislation, more and more people are getting health insurance. So, the number of people who visit dentists is also increasing. All these factors lead to the increasing demand for dental hygienists.
Dental hygienists work closely with dental assistants and dentists. They need to wear surgical masks, gloves and safety glasses to get protection from infectious diseases. You need to follow strict procedures while taking X-rays.
The average annual dental hygienists salary was $70,210 (May 2012). If you are highly experienced and qualified, you can earn around $96,280 per year. Some employers offer additional benefits such as sick and vacation leave, contribution to retirement fund, etc. However, these benefits are available only for full time dental hygienists. According to the latest analysis of American Dental Association, more than half of dental hygienists perform duties as part time.
The service of dental hygienists is essential for general dental practices and specialty practices such as pediatric or periodontics dentistry. Besides dentist offices, they can also seek employment in hospitals, public health clinics and nursing homes.
Personal satisfaction is one of the most enjoyable aspects associated with the job of a dental hygienist. They are working with people. While providing valuable health service to patients, you can enjoy high level of personal satisfaction. Your education and training is also highly skilled. So, you will get respect and reputation from the society. Flexibility in work schedule is the other important feature of dental hygienist profession.