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Dental Hygienist Education: All you need to know

Dental Hygienist Education: All you Need to know

Becoming a specialist in this area offers a wide range of opportunities, both for your life path as well as when it comes to dental hygienist education. There are so many benefits to becoming a dental hygienist: you get to help people while getting paid a very good salary, and often you’ll be able to have flexible hours and you’re able to take the job with you wherever you should decide to go in the future.

Definition ➣

Dental hygienists care for their patients through instruction, inspection and physical tasks such as cleaning teeth and performing x-rays. As well, a dental hygienist will assist a dentist when it becomes necessary to do so. A dental hygienist performs tasks that are too complex for a dental assistant to handle, but too simple to bother a dentist with.
Dental hygienists play a key role within dental offices to the fact that they are able to perform so many of the tasks that dentists would otherwise have to do. By the dental hygienist being able to fulfill these roles are able to free up to dentists a significant amount more thus allowing that is more flexibility and the ability to grow his or her business.

Educational Overview ➤

There is a lot of education and training required of a dental hygienist. First off, one must complete an accredited program in dental hygiene. Then one must pass a national exam in writing on the national level. After that, the hygienist must pass a hands-on clinical exam given by their state of practice. Naturally, education is important, and the institution must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. To be employed, practically speaking, one must have at least an associate’s degree. Depending on where you work to be additional requirements, however, an associate’s degree should be enough in most instances. If you have an idea of where you’d like to work you should make sure to look into their requirements in order to make the proper educational choices.

However, as with many things, a goal in life such as becoming a dental hygienist must begin with a first step. That first step, in this instance, is doing your research on dental education.
As you’re taking the first steps into dental hygienist education, you must be aware of your options. You may also need to take a close look at your life situation. There may be budgetary concerns or even time constraints – all these factors will play a part in what type of education that you are able to take on at the present time. Keep in mind that even if you start off at the minimum requirements, you can always go back later and build upon your knowledge to achieve higher educational degrees.

Dental Hygiene Certificate ➣

The first, and most basic, form of dental hygienist education is to obtain a certificate in dental hygiene, which takes anywhere from 2 to 3 years. You can easily find a certificate program, whether it is at a local university, community college, or vocational school. You can also find these courses online, but you’ll want to be sure you’re able to set up clinical practice as well prior to scheduling your final testing. This course will give you all the core components of dental hygienist education such as dental hygiene practice, periodontics, pharmacology, and others.

How Difficult Is Dental Hygienist Certification ➣

Dental hygienist schools are designed to help you prepare for certification. When you enroll in dental hygienist training, you will study topics and learn skills that will enable you to pass your state’s certification examination and become licensed in your field. Preparing for the certification exam is important but you should also take the Dental Hygienist Certification note of the actual classes you are enrolled in. studying is paramount in obtaining your certification. While this certification is not difficult, you do have to expect a bit of information overload at times and be prepared to learn skills that are new to you.
During your dental hygienist training, you must maintain a minimum GPA of at least 2.5. The requirements for becoming a dental hygienist include two years of training and successfully passing a written exam that is given by the American Dental Joint Commission. You may also need to pass an exam specifically set up for your state. Because of these examinations, you must practice diligence when studying and ensure that you retain the information needed to prepare you for work in this field.
A 2.5 GPA is a “C” average and this is required in all of your courses. In most dental hygienist schools anything lower than a 2.5 GPA for each semester will dismiss you from the program. A grade of “D” or lower is completely unacceptable and will result in your need to repeat courses or be dropped from the training program.
Subjects that you will cover in dental hygienist training normally include chemistry, physiology, anatomy, radiography, pathology, microbiology, dental materials, histology, and others of similar difficulty. You should plan to study for several hours each week in order to keep up with your course load and to keep your GPA at an acceptable level. Keep this in mind when you decide to pursue certification in dental hygiene. The certification process does not have to be difficult, but you do have to be prepared.

Associate of Science ➣

The next level of dental hygienist education is to seek out a college and obtain your Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene. This is a two-year degree which will also require clinical time while supervised by a dental professional – be it a dentist or a more experienced dental hygienist. This degree also goes into more depth than a certificate.

Bachelor of Science ➣

The bachelor’s degree is geared more toward those already possessing an associate’s degree or for those who are more interested in continuing on into a career in research. These degrees, as you would expect, are four-year degrees that can be obtained at many local colleges. The program requirements may vary from prior certification or degree in dental hygiene to entry-level admittance.

Master of Science ➣

This is the epitome of dental hygienist education and is what you should look into if you’re planning to teach and train others to become dental hygienists. Prior to entering a Master’s educational course, one must already hold a bachelor’s degree and will have to complete a thesis in order to graduate.
There is a wide variety of options for dental hygienist education, and these educational options can each work together as stepping stones to help you go as far as you’d like to go in your career.

Getting Your License ➣

You need to be licensed to practice. To become licensed, graduating from a dental hygiene program is the first step. Then you must pass exams, both in written form and in clinical practice. There is a National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, as well as the exams of the state where you intend to practice. You may even need to pass an exam related to the legalities of practicing dental hygiene. Once you pass all of these requirements, you may use RDH after your name.

Degrees and Schools ➣

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer dental hygiene associate’s degrees, which is the least you will need to work in a dental office. You need to pass exams and take prerequisite classes, as well as graduate high school first. If you want to work in a public health program, in research or teaching, a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be necessary.
Graduating from a curriculum that the American Dental Association (ADA) accredits is necessary to be licensed in nearly every state.

Classes ➣

A dental hygiene student needs plenty of classwork, as well as clinical practice. Many of the classes they need are ➣
  • Physiology and Human Anatomy
  • Biology and Chemistry
  • Dental tools and materials courses
  • Oral health and nutrition
  • Social science and sociology
  • Tissue structure and gum diseases
  • Practice under supervision is a major part of every good curriculum.

Online Classes and Programs ➣

A great many online programs offer degrees in dental hygiene. While they are extremely convenient, they may not be able to assist with the clinical and lab experience hygienist needs.
To be licensed, one must graduate from a program that the ADA accredits, as well as being accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (or CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (or USDE).

Program Prerequisites ➣

Every dental hygiene school has its own requirements for admittance, but these are the normal basics ➣
Being a high school graduate or GED laureate
Being at least 18 years old
Having at least a C average
Passing entrance examinations for a post-secondary program
Passing English, Biology, Chemistry and other relevant high school classes
Nearly every program wants you to have at least a year of college in your background. For many programs in universities, the requirement is two years. You also need to have completed classes in the humanities and the hard sciences.

Sample Curriculum ➣

  • Oral Anatomy
  • Intro to Oral Hygiene
  • Dental Hygiene Clinical Practicum
  • Histology and Oral Embryology
  • Periodontics Studies
  • Pharmacology in Dentistry
  • Dental Health and Community
  • Dental Pathology
  • Clinical Hygiene

This is just a general outline. You want to make sure that you talk within an admissions counselor in order to ensure that you’re meeting your prerequisites and then your dental hygienist core curriculum. That way you’re able to ensure that you’re taking all of the proper classes.
Employment and Education Requirements
Every state requires a dental hygienist to have a license to practice. As well, nearly every state demands their hygienists complete an ADA accredited program, and pass both the national exams and tests related to the legalities of being a dental hygienist.
To be admitted to a program for an associate’s degree, one must have the equivalent of high school education, supply their scores to college entrance exams, and often pass certain prerequisite classes.

How to Evaluate Dental Hygienist Schools ➣

Here are some good questions to ask when a student compares associate degree programs ➣
Has the ADA accredited this school? Is the program located in the state where the student wishes to practice dental hygiene?
Does the program work more toward passing local state exams, or the national one? Does it emphasize clinical skills for other states where a student may want to work later on? How well does the curriculum gel with the student’s future goals career-wise?
Does the program clearly list its prerequisite courses? Does a student need to supply the school with college entrance exam scores?
Are classes of a size where individual attention and clinical supervision are practical?
What sorts of financial aid does the school make available and assist students in obtaining?
What percentages of recent graduates have passed the necessary exams? How much does the school help with job placement?

Example Job Titles ➣

  • Hygiene Technician
  • RDH or Registered Dental Hygienist
  • Dentistry Nurse
  • Oral Hygienist

Job Description ➣

Every area is different, and operating in a different place will give you different responsibilities. Dental hygienists are professionally licensed and care for patients under a dentist’s watch. Generally, Every state has different regulations regarding what you can and must do as a dental hygienist. However, your responsibilities will most likely include:
  • Interviewing the patient for their oral and general health background
  • Inspecting the neck, head, teeth and gums to gain an overall picture of the patient’s health, and potential problems down the line
  • Scraping away plaque, stains, and calculus from all over the teeth
  • Ensuring patients understand the effects of their oral hygiene and nutrition on their teeth
  • Making molds of teeth, so as to assist in evaluations and planning for later procedures

Other Duties ➤Your role may also include:

  • Dressing the teeth and gums, placing and removing temporary and permanent fillings
  • Adjusting and cleaning up metal restorations
  • Ensuring the completeness and effective preparation of lab tests so the dentist can interpret them easily
  • Anesthetizing patients

While every state has its own regulations for a hygienist’s responsibilities, they often include ➣

  • Checking for tooth and gum problems
  • Recording observed problems and treatments
  • Removing plaque and calculus
  • Sealing damage to teeth and strengthening them
  • Treating periodontal disease
  • Capturing and preparing x-rays
  • Assisting a dentist
  • Educating patients about their diet and its relationship to their oral health
  • Placing and polishing fillings and restorations
  • Many dental hygienists work at more than one dentist’s office, and many work part-time.

Career Outlook, and jobs ➣

Dentistry is a healthcare profession, and as such is benefiting greatly from a population that cares more and more about its health, both oral and otherwise. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists are involved in one of the fastest-growing careers out there.

Work Environment ➣

Some settings where dental hygienists work is:
  • The offices of dentists
  • Hospital settings
  • Public health and dental clinics
  • Dentistry educational facilities

Any area where dental knowledge is useful can use your services. You can do research, administer consultations to companies, and work in companies that deal with dentistry related equipment and materials.
Your schedules can be extremely flexible. You can work evenings, weekends, full time, or only part-time if you like. Believe it or not, more than 50 percent of hygienists only work 35 hours or less per week. Since many dentists only want their hygienists for a few days per week, many hygienists may work for several dentists at a time.

Salary ➣

The salary of a dental hygienist will vary by area, the employer, the hygienist’s level of education, and their experiential level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 the average dental hygienist earned from $35.97 per hour and $74,820 annually, but the highest end can top out above $77,000 per year. A lot of this depends on where you work and on the state in which you are working.
Your benefits will also be dependent on your employer. If you work for a public health organization, a government, or a school, your benefits should be top-notch. In private practice, you should receive some paid vacation time every year. As well, almost every dental hygienist has dental insurance coverage. More and more people are turning to dental hygienists in order to avoid the dreaded, painful dental procedures and treatments. This has led to an increase in demand for these professionals. It has, therefore, become a lucrative career choice.

Dental Hygienist Education: All you Need to know Dental Hygienist Education: All you Need to know Reviewed by swapee dee on February 27, 2020 Rating: 5
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