Whatever the motivation is to make a career out of poking at other people’s teeth, becoming a registered dental hygienist can be quite interesting and rewarding, and this post will help you navigate how to become one.
Who is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a licensed professional who works independently or alongside dentists to examine patients, and provide full and thorough oral care.
Their training is such that they are able to provide the patient, after complete and thorough examination, preventive measures and treatment of oral diseases, as well as education on oral hygiene.
Registered Dental Hygienist Education Requirements and Career Pathway
To become a dental hygienist, you can go in for an Associate degree program from high school if you have good grades in biology, Chemistry, and mathematics.
You can also enroll into college to complete a Bachelor’s degree program in Dental Hygiene. To qualify for a Bachelor’s program, you will need to take certain prerequisite courses, including anatomy, nutrition, physiology, periodontology, and radiology and obtain a competitive GPA. This is important because the dental hygienist program is quite competitive in most institutions.
A variety of schools offer such courses in their curriculum. You can check local institutions in your area for opportunities available.
Having a Master’s degree is usually required for teaching, conducting research work or even clinical practices in public schools and health programs.
To practice after completing dental hygiene program, you will be required to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, which is a written test, as well as to go through a clinical board examination either at the state or regional level. The successful completion of these examinations qualifies you to be a registered dental hygienist.
To practice in any state, you will be required to get a license. You will need to fulfill the requirements of the state you are interested in working in, which could mean taking additional tests, providing transcripts from college, CPR certification, taking jurisprudence exam, and obtaining a letter of recommendation from a dentist.
The dental hygienist career is one that requires taking continuing educational programs to keep your license, so be prepared for it.
Registered Dental Hygienist Duties and responsibilities
Typically, dental hygienists access the condition of their patients, and proffer specific treatment plan or education concerning their findings.
In some environments, dental hygienists work closely with dentists to administer anesthetics and perform dental radiography.
In addition, their roles may also include periodontal debridement, prophylaxis, and making diagnosis which is an integral aspect of the dental diagnosis.
It is simpler to say that they remove tartar, stains, and plaques from the teeth, apply fluoride and fillers (sealant) to protect the teeth, keep track of a patient’s oral hygiene and progress and talk endlessly about how best to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Many dental hygienists work together with dentists, dental therapists and other dental professionals to provide an all-inclusive, all-round oral health care to patients.
As a dental hygienist, there are a number of tools or equipment to get the job done. Usually, the dental hygienist makes use of safety glasses, and surgical masks, and gloves to protect themselves and the patient from infectious diseases, and are required to follow strict procedures to ensure their safety, and that of the patient.
Other aspects where dental hygienists get themselves involved in includes;
Research: Studies alongside specialists in teaching institutions
Professional education: they can help train dental hygiene students, and dental assistants
Marketing and Sales: They are the best bet for sales of dental products and promotion of dental services for dental organizations.
Dental Hygienist Qualities for Success
Certain qualities and skills are required for individuals in the dental hygiene profession to have for a proper and successful career:
- Attention to details: This is very important as specific rules and protocols enable the dental hygienist diagnose and treat the patient with care, and often without supervision.
- Dexterity: They must attain a certain proficiency with working with their hands as they often work in tight corners, on a small part of the body, and require precision with sharp instruments.
- Empathy: The dental hygienist ought to be aware that certain people may show fear towards undergoing treatment or be in excruciating pains, and know how to handle such cases.
- Stamina: Physical strength is required in a great deal on the job, as dental hygienist may be required to bend over a patient for an extended period of time.
- Interpersonal skills: Since dental hygienists work closely with other dental professionals, they are expected to show a high level of inter personal skill to be able to work closely with professionals and patients.
Dental Hygienist Career opportunities
The dental hygienist’s growth rate is projected to rise to 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average expected growth rate of any other occupation, as more research into dental health is expected to encourage the growth in the demand for of dental hygienists
The career offers a variety of advantages, which include the satisfaction from interacting and solving the problems of people, the prestige of having an important job in a highly skilled discipline, and the variety of working with a number of different dental professional, and assist specific population groups –children, the aged, or people with disabilities.
Job Security: There is becoming the increasing need for oral education, and a further increasing rate of success by professional dental hygienists in reducing oral related diseases, and awareness on oral hygiene.
Dental Hygienist Salaries: Annual median pay for dental hygienists range between $70,000, ranging between $46000 to around $$96,000.