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How to Become Dental Hygienist

dental hygienist

How to Become Dental Hygienist

A lot of people are curious about the dental hygienist career and what its purpose in the field of dental and medical healthcare is. Often associated with a lot of researchers and dentists, dental hygienists are practically dentists themselves, which focus more on providing protection for their patients against oral diseases, while at the same time making research in an effort to make dental care as easy and accessible as possible.

A dental hygienist in general, is a healthcare profession which offers prevention and treatment of oral diseases. They are graduates and diploma holders who passed the board examinations. As a dental hygienist, they perform a number of functions both in support of the dentist and institution at the same time. They also help in oral care assessments and basic dental procedures that make them as versatile as possible.

Dental hygienists work directly with patients under the supervision of the dentist assisting with the oral health needs of their patients. Because each state has created their own regulations for a dental hygienist’s allowable responsibilities, their job description varies greatly depending on where they live.

However, some of the most common duties include:

  • Screening patients for oral health conditions
  • Assessing the patient’s medical and dental history
  • Taking the patient’s blood pressure or pulse
  • Applying preventatives like fluorides and sealants to teeth
  • Removing plaque and calculus from teeth
  • Teaching patients about proper hygiene techniques for oral health like brushing, nutrition, and flossing
  • Ordering supplies, ensuring proper documentation of medical records, answering phone, scheduling appointments, and other clerical activities

Does this sound like the perfect job for you? If so, consider the following.

Education Requirements for Becoming a Dental Hygienist

If you want to become a dental hygienist, you’ll need to attend a two-year college or certificate program and earn your certificate or associate’s degree in dental hygiene.

The program must be certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. This level of education is required because it is the minimum amount needed to obtain state licensure, which all states require. Bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees are available and needed by those who wish to work in an area of research or in public health.

Once you’ve completed your education, you will need to complete two examinations in order to receive your license and begin working as a dental hygienist: the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam and your state’s dental hygiene exam. After you have successfully taken these tests, you will then need to contact your particular state’s licensing authority to apply for a license.

Many states will require certain information before granting you your license, such as:

  • Proof of your completed exams
  • Proof of a CPR certification
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts from the high school and college you attended
  • Letters from the dentistry board where your license is being held

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

In order to become a dental hygienist, one must attend and complete her studies at a reputable university and gain a diploma. After which, graduates of dental hygiene must take the national board examinations in order for them to become licensed practitioners and be able to apply their learning to real life. Some states also require a local licensure or a state or regional examination to allow dental hygienists to practice their profession in that state, regardless of whether the national board examinations are passed. It is therefore important that you thoroughly consider and know the requirements of the place you intend to work at, in order to peacefully and successfully practice your profession.

Upon acquiring a license, they are now termed as “RDH,” or Registered Dental Hygienist, which will allow them to perform usual tasks, which include screening patients for oral diseases like oral cancer and other gum and teeth diseases, educate patients and become instructors to institutions, perform basic to complex dentistry procedures, and perform researches as a groundbreaking study in the field of Dentistry.

A dental hygienist career is considered one of those careers which grow faster on average than other occupations. This is due to the fact that there are a lot of people now who are in need of dental care. Further, as they also focus in research and development, dental hygienists are needed in discovering new and efficient ways to provide oral healthcare to the patients.

There is a great importance in dental hygienists as they ensure that the latest discoveries in an effort to improve dental and oral care are given emphasis. They also make sure that the people are made aware of the potential oral diseases one may acquire and ways on how to prevent it. It is very important that there is someone who is skilled and adept in healthcare, and people as patients, must listen to them attentively in order to avoid any health dangers and diseases.

So in conclusion there are these steps you need to take to become a dental hygienist-

  • Complete high school or earn your GED. During high school, focus on courses in math, English, chemistry, and biology, while maintaining at least a ‘C’ average.
  • Find a dental hygiene program you are interested in and determine what prerequisites are required for the program. Some associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree program require students to attend college for one or two years before they will be accepted into the program. Many others require prerequisite courses in speech, chemistry, psychology, sociology, and English.
  • Complete the dental hygiene program and graduate.
  • Take the state licensing test and the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam and pass. Then, fill out your state’s application for licensure and provide them with the necessary documentation they require.
  • Find employment as a dental hygienist. Remember, you can only work in the states you are licensed, so if you move or find a job in another state, you will have to conform to your new state’s laws and may even need to take the new state’s licensure exam.

Salary and Benefits for Dental Hygienists

As a professional and licensed occupation, dental hygienist earns almost as much as a medical doctor would do. On average, a dental hygienist would earn about $66,000 annually. A dental hygienist with a low salary would usually receive about $44,000 a year, while the highest paying professional could potentially earn up to as high as $91,000. Apart from the financial compensation, they are also entitled to benefits, depending on the institution that they are employed at.

The amount of their earnings and the benefits they receive could also depend on their geographical location, which means that depending on the state that they are practicing; their annual salary may either be on the upper end or in the lower end of the salary range for a Dental Hygienist.

Along with a fantastic salary, you will also be able to take advantage of the many job benefits offered to dental hygienists.

Many of these benefits include:

  • Bonuses
  • Health insurance
  • 401k
  • Pension
  • Paid time off for sick leave and vacations
  • Social Security benefits
  • Disability benefits