dental care

Dental Hygienist
A Dental Career to Consider

A dental hygienist plays an important role in the professional dental world. The dentist works closely with the dental hygienist in order that complete care may be provided to dental patients.

Dental hygenist SalariesHygienists have several responsibilities in the dental clinic, but they are also entitled to several career advantages. Having a job as a dental hygienist offers a high level of personal satisfaction because of the value of being a hygienist. And since hygienists interact closely with patients, you also get the chance to build trust with others.

The dental field also brings with it a certain prestige that not only dentists but also hygienists get to enjoy. As a hygienist, you become part of a health care team, and you know that your work leaves a good impact on others.

Being a hygienist is definitely a colorful job; it is a profession you will most likely enjoy. It will put you in contact with a very diverse customer base and you will also enjoy flexible work hours as well as an advantageous lifestyle.

Those who are eyeing hygienist positions enjoy a healthy market of employment opportunities.

In the below article we'll go through the following :

  • Education requirements and licensure
  • Earning potential
  • Process of care / what does a hygienist do
  • Dental hygienist schools

Education Requirements and Licensure

What you should know if you want to be a dental hygienist :

  • Education Requirements
  • Licensure Requirements
  • Accreditation Requirements
  • Responsibilities of a Hygienist

1. Education Requirements

Dental HygenistProspective hygienists can complete education requirements by attending special hygienist courses available at universities, dental schools, and community colleges. A course that will train you to become a hygienist takes about two tears. This will already give you an associate degree that will qualify you to take a licensure examination to become a licensed hygienist.

2. Licensure Requirements

A state licensure examination is an important requirement before you will be qualified to work as a dental hygienist. You need to have completed a special education program before you can take the licensure examination. The exam tests whether the aspiring hygienist has all the necessary skills and knowledge of the job and the profession. The exam, which is called National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, is state-authorized. You should get a passing score on it before you can apply for a hygienist job.

3. Accreditation Requirements

For your dental hygienist training to be honored as a complete education program for the job, you should receive education from programs that are accredited by the American Dental Association. The ADA has a separate department in charge of the accreditations, the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

4. Responsibilities of a Hygienist

The job of a dental hygienist is quite varied, so you will definitely enjoy the work and also learn a lot from it. Hygienists are responsible for screening patients. This include assessing a patient’s oral health condition, reviewing oral histories, conducting various head and neck inspections, and keeping record, charts, and any other documentation needs. Hygienists will also be trained and authorized to conduct dental radiographs or x-rays.

Hygienists also get to perform basic dental procedures all geared towards maintaining proper oral hygiene. For example, hygienists can remove plaque deposits from teeth then inform patients about how to properly take care of teeth for maintenance. This includes counseling and advice on how to properly brush teeth, on how good nutrition can affect oral health, and so on.

Hygienists are also trained to perform preventive procedures such as applying sealants and fluorides. It is also the hygienist’s responsibility to make impressions of patients’ teeth in preparation for other procedures such as dentures and implants.

Earning Potensial

Dental hygienist salaries differ greatly from one particular hygienist job to another. These salaries can differ based on several factors. If you are considering a career as a dental hygienist, you should do some research about the average dental hygienist salaries to see if the salary range received by dental hygienists meet your personal financial criteria.

Basic things about dental hygenists salaries :

  • Typical dental hygienist salaries
  • Factors that determine dental hygienist salary
  • Additional benefits of being a dental hygienist

1. Typical dental hygienist salaries

Dental Hygiene SchoolsThe average amount that dental hygienists earn is at around $65,000 for each year. On an hourly basis, the lowest rate is at around $20.50, but this rate can go up to $43 per hour. This rate, however, is often given to those who have the best requirements and a lot of work experience.

If you’ve been working as a dental hygienist for eight years, it would not be impossible for you to earn up to $100,000 per year. Your rate will increase as your experiences on the job also increase. Two-year dental hygienists often get $40,000 per year, while those with around five to seven years of experience can earn up to $60,000 per year.

The best dental hygienist salaries are said to be offered in the states of Nevada, California, and Alaska. Alaska is best known for the promising earnings offered to its dental hygienists. In Alaska, a lot of hygienists are earning up to $90,000 each year, while annual rates in Washington and California are $80,000. Nevada hygienists, on the other hand, can make up to $77000 per year.

2. Factors that determine dental hygienist salary

Dental hygienists make different earnings, and the different amounts they get paid are mostly calculated based on their individual work assignments, the size of the organization or clinic they work for, their past experience in the dental field, their location, and their training background. Those who work in hospitals also get different rates from those who work in clinics. Dental hygienists are paid on an hourly or a daily basis.

3. Additional benefits of being a dental hygienist

Aside from dental hygienist salaries, dental hygienists also get a lot of other benefits and compensation from their job. They get to enjoy a flexible working schedule and can even choose to work on a part-time basis. Some hygienists can even get schedules that only require them to work for only 2 to 3 days in a week.

Aside from that, the American Dental Association has received data that nearly 90% of dental hygienists also receive medical care benefits on top of their salaries.

Process of Care – What Hygienists Do

  • Patient Assessment
  • Hygiene Diagnosis
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation Stage

1. Patient Assessment

dental hygienist coursesEvery first meeting between a dental hygienist and a patient begins with an assessment of the patient’s teeth. This also includes a brief but detailed look into the patient’s medical history, and a thorough look at every nook and cranny in the patient’s mouth; this is done by taking x-rays and through a hands-on clinical exam.

Aside from checking the teeth, the dental hygienist will also check the gums. Then dental hygienists should also perform screenings for blood pressure, oral cancer, and other diseases.

Dental hygienist courses should also emphasize the importance of documentation in this process.

In order to fully equip dental hygienists for this stage in the process, they are taught how to conduct clinical exams, do a periodontal evaluation, take x-rays, and interpret medical history details.

2. Diagnosis

After assessment, the dental hygienist has to be taught how to make a diagnosis based on all the things he or she has learned in the assessment. This will lead the dental hygienist to a professional treatment plan that has to be followed.

For this, dental hygienist courses also teach dental hygienists to interpret results of x-rays and exams and to pick the best possible treatment for the patient. This is the most challenging part of the job, and a dental hygiene must have good knowledge of the field, a keen eye for details, resourcefulness, and good instincts.

Diagnosis will almost immediately be followed by a planning stage, during which the treatment will be expressed in terms of actual clinic visits and treatments, all going towards the goal.

3. Implementation

After all the plans are prepared, the dental hygienist will implement the treatment plan continuously until desired results are achieved. It is his or her responsibility to ensure that the treatment is conducted on a timely basis to ensure the best results.

It is this stage that requires the dental hygienist to be trained on how to conduct certain dental care procedures focused on cleaning, preventing, and maintaining. Some of these procedures are applying fillings and sealants, applying fluoride, dental scaling, root planing, removal of supra and sub gingival deposits on teeth, and so on.

4. Evaluation Stage

Finally, after the treatments are completed, there will be an evaluation stage wherein the dentist and patient will discuss and evaluate whether the desired goals are met. If the goals are not met, then the dental hygienist has to approach the problem differently. The evaluation of a dental hygienist’s work can last for months or even years depending on the particular case.

If a treatment is successful, the dental hygienist is responsible for giving oral care and proper maintenance instructions to the patient.  

Hygienist Schools - Your Options

  • Nature of the Dental Hygiene Education
  • What to Learn from Dental Hygiene Schools
  • Schools in the United States

1. Nature of the Dental Hygiene Education

To become a full-fledged dental hygienist, an interested person should get a state license from the area where they want to practice. The very first requirement, naturally, is a degree from a good dental hygiene school.

After obtaining a degree, a licensure examination is also necessary. You may also encounter some dental hygiene schools that require at least one year of college education.

To get accepted to these schools, you will need a high school diploma and a passing score in college entrance exams. But given the large number of dental hygiene schools around, these requirements may also vary per school.

After completing a dental hygiene program, you can get  an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a certificate, depending on the nature of the program you chose to take.

2. What to Learn

Necessary subjects that dental hygienists need include biology, chemistry, and mathematics, as well as pathology, and social sciences, aside from major subjects on dental hygiene.

Major dental hygiene subjects include dental anatomy, dental radiology, head and neck anatomy, periodontology, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and pharmacology. There are also subjects on biomaterials as well as immersion into medical terminology.

Aside from being a dental hygienist, you can also do some dental assisting, which is gradually becoming more and more popular. If you are interested in dental assistance, you can learn through dental assisting programs that provide both lecture and on-the-job training. These programs usually last for one year or even less.

Dental assistants are responsible for providing care to patients; their first concern is the patient’s condition and feelings. Aside from that, they are responsible for preparing all necessary supplies and materials that the dentist will need.

3. Schools in the United States

There are a whole lot of schools in the United States alone that offer dental hygiene programs. Each state provides a lot of choices for prospective dental hygienists.

In California, there is quite a number, which includes the ACI Career College in Modesto, American Career College in Anaheim, and United Education Institute in San Diego. There are also large universities such as University of California, under the San Francisco School of Dentistry as well as the University of the Pacific.

In Florida and Georgia, there are specialized schools, such as the Advanced Career Training in Jacksonville and the Medical College of Georgia. Minnesota is also home to a special dental hygiene associate program in Argosy University. Sanford-Brown College in Missouri also offers a dental assistant diploma course.

If you want the Big Apple experience, you can go to Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery or New York University.Pennsylvania also has a lot of academies offering dental hygiene programs, such as Western School of Health and Business, Bradford School, and Sanford-Brown Institute.

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