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The Roadmap to Becoming a Dental Hygienist
If you desire to help others with their teeth you may be a good candidate to learn how to become a dental hygienist. If you are not sure where to get started with becoming a hygienist this information should clear some things up for you. Before you learn how to get started with this career field you do need to make sure you have the personality suited for it. If you are the sociable type and enjoy people and if you are patient and able to handle a fast-paced and challenging career then this could be just the profession for you.

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A licensed hygienist is a specialist in the fields of oral hygiene and preventative oral health. A professional dental hygienist offers the following services to their patients:
  • Therapy to remove and correct dental disease, promoting healthy mouth and gum tissue
  • Preventative service to promote oral health in every patient
  • Education on dental habits and hygiene so patients can cultivate their own oral health
hygienists are the first line of defense against dental problems and in the promotion of good dental practice. They work closely with dentists to provide optimal health care for every patient.

What will you learn as a DH?

Dental hygiene students learn all relevant techniques in their field. These include but are not limited to:
  • Preventative Health Services and Programs
  • Therapeutic Oral Care
  • Community Dentistry and Instructional Techniques
Roadmap to Becoming a Dental Hygienist ➤
1. Choose a Dental Hygienist Course Program – Before you can even start on your journey in the dental field you need to choose a program and enroll. For anyone that’s looking into a career as a dental hygienist, the educational opportunities are going to be there for you to choose from. They’re going to range to certificate programs that will run approximately two-years in length, all the way up to getting a master’s degree. This is a demanding industry and the sky is your limit. The minimum requirements to be a hygienist will either be a dental hygiene associate degree or completion of the aforementioned two-year certificate program. Your educational requirements may differ depending on your state. The higher your degree in this career field the better job opportunities there are for you and the more money you can make. Picking the right dental hygienist program at a reputable school is a crucial step to a rewarding career. Students can download the American Dental Association webpage at www.ada.org to get a thorough list of accredited programs in the United States. While still in high school, students considering dental hygiene should send away for school catalogs and visit campuses before their senior year of high school end, visit school campuses, and talk to current and past dental hygiene students to get a firsthand account of their experience in the program.

2. Make Sure to Take Your Prerequisite Classes – Most of these programs have prerequisites. These courses are designed to improve your education in science and certain core subjects. These courses prepare you for your further studies.

3. Work On Your Communication Skills – One of the important aspects of how to become a hygienist is that you have good communication skills. You will be working with patients all day long and they need to understand what you are saying.  You also need to learn how to make them feel comfortable because being at the dentist can be very stressful for some peopleNot everyone is cut out to be a dental hygienist. This particular career path requires acute attention to detail, a personable character, and a calm and inviting demeanor. In order to become a  hygienist, individuals need to enjoy talking and interacting with people on a daily basis while having a friendly disposition. Some routine tasks of a dental hygienist include removing plaque buildup, taking x-rays for the dentist, and applying cavity prevention treatments to the patient’s teeth.

4. Find Out About Scholarship Programs – Many career fields have scholarship programs, especially in the medical arena. You can utilize financial aid websites to locate grants and/or scholarships. These resources are free to all people seeking financial help for their education.

5. Get Your License – You have to have your license to work as a DH. Each state has its own licensing board and commonly there are 2 exams to take. Your first exam will test your knowledge of science and your core subjects and the second is your state’s official clinical examination that allows you to work in this field as long as you pass. After graduating from a dental program, new dental hygienists should get licensed. They then may apply the skills and education necessary to assist customers in a dental environment and take the certification exam in the state they wish to work in. Each state’s exam requires passing both the written and clinical sections and is administered by the Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Although the exam is challenging and can take students time or two to pass, it is the last step before qualifying to work as a certified dental hygienist.


6. Interview Dental Hygienists- When an individual is considering a career in the dental field, it’s important to talk to other DH to get a good idea of what their career is actually like. Talk to as many dental hygienists as possible and ask them what their daily tasks are, what their working schedule is like, and what the negative aspects of their careers are. While on the outside looking in, a dental hygienist career could seem like the perfect fit, but the reality of daily tasks, salary, and necessary personality traits may lead those considering a career in the field to decide it is not a good fit.

7: Picking the Right Employer - It’s important to pick the right working environment and most importantly, a supportive employer that will mentor the hygienist during his or her first hygienist job. Many dental hygienist positions offer flexible schedules, with nearly 50% of dental hygienists working part-time. For those that choose to go back to school or work 20-30 hours a week, the flexibility of working in this field can be ideal. When interviewing for jobs, pay attention to the overall work environment, turnover rate, professionalism, and future opportunities for promotion.
Being a dental hygienist is a great career choice for those who love helping others, having a flexible schedule, and working in a secure environment.

:- We’ll leave the technical requirements for a dental hygienist for now and take a look at the options for someone that wants to pursue a dental hygienist career.

Certificate Programs:

The first option is going to be the certificate program for dental hygiene. Those that want to begin work in a dental office as a dental hygienist will find that this is going to be the most popular, and also the fastest, track to make it happen. You can complete it within 2-years, 3-years at the most usually. If you prefer or need to be on the fast track, this is going to be the best option for you.
The student going through the certificate program for dental hygienist will expect to take all of the core classes in dental hygiene, including, but not limited to:
  • Pharmacology
  • Practices in dental hygiene
  • Pathology
  • Administration of local anesthesia
  • Periodontics

Bachelor’s Programs:

You’ll find two different classifications if you’re looking to take this track for your education. The first one is going to be for the high school graduate that’s entering into college and has no clinical experience yet. The entry-level bachelor’s program is what this is referred to formally.
The other classification is going to be referred to as the bachelor’s completion program formally. This is a program that’s geared to those that have already completed either an associate's program or a dental hygienist certificate program.
As far as expectations from the bachelor’s program in dental hygiene go, the courses are going to include, but are not limited to:
  • Preparation and administration for local anesthesia
  • Dental biomaterials
  • Dental setting radiology
  • Pharmacology
  • The students that complete the program will be able to pursue a career within a wide variety of settings, such as:
  • Dental research
  • Dentists offices
  • Radiology departments
  • Dental education

Master’s Programs:

The master’s programs are going to be for those people that wish to take this career to the absolute maximum possible. This type of program will take someone to their ultimate potential by preparing them for positions in both clinical and teaching settings.
Moving forward, you’ll be expecting there to be thesis options and you should plan on focusing on research and education on dental hygiene when you’re pursuing the dental hygienist degree. You need to bear in mind you’ll need to complete the dental hygienist bachelor’s program before you take on this program.

Job Outlook:

The future of the dental hygiene career path is promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipate an 11% growth in the field over the next half-decade. The Bureau also identifies dental hygiene as one of the nation’s fastest-growing job markets. This is due to the increasing demand for excellent dental care and the consequent growth in the need for qualified dental hygienists. There is also a variety of work available to hygienists. Dental equipment sales, lab technology, public health administration, teaching, and research – all of these are possible career destinations for the licensed hygienist. Dental hygienists can also expect good salaries. Though earning will vary according to geographical location, level of education, and length of experience, according to the bureau of labor statistics the national average salary was in 2018 $74,820. That translates to nearly $35.97 an hour. Depending on the place of employment, hourly, salary, and commission-based pay are all common payment options.

Job Location:

The job options for dental hygienists in are not one-size-fits-all. The marketplace is diverse, including careers in:
  • Private Practice
  • Health Departments, state and national
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Academia
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Educational Software Development
  • Clinical Dentistry
  • Research
  • Dental Insurance


In addition to their job description, hygienists are leaders in public health, education, and health advocacy. Their involvement in commercial ventures and professional associations are all part of their roles in the office and in the community.

Conclusions:

Your opportunities are endless; it only depends on what you’re looking to do with the world of dental work and how far you want to go. There are more than enough opportunities out there for you to go after; you only need to figure out which ones are going to produce what results for you. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to pick what’s going to be the best for you. Never forget to demand only the best when you’re pursuing your career, and above all else ensure you’re going to be happy before diving in with both feet.

The Roadmap to Becoming a Dental Hygienist The Roadmap to Becoming a Dental Hygienist Reviewed by swapee dee on February 29, 2020 Rating: 5
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