How to Become a Dental Hygienist

A Dental Hygienist is a dental professional who is concerned with keeping teeth and gums healthy. They also educate patients on oral hygiene. Hygienists have the ability to take x-rays and apply fluoride. They must complete a degree in dental hygiene from an accredited program. After completing their training, they will also need to pass a licensing exam in order to practice.

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Dental hygienists are professionals who specialize in the prevention and treatment of oral diseases. Dental hygienists, also known as dental therapists, work with patients to teach them how to brush and floss teeth and gums properly.

They also educate their patients on diet and nutrition that can help prevent tooth decay. Additionally, they provide other preventive treatments such as sealants or fluoride application for children.

After a thorough evaluation of the patient’s needs, the dental hygiene professional may recommend additional treatments such as periodontal therapy or scaling (tooth cleaning) so that the patient has healthy teeth and gums for life.

Dentist offices usually employ at least one full-time dentist but will often have an entire team of hygienists and support staff. Dental hygienists work with the dentist to identify and prevent oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and other conditions. They also educate patients on how to care for their teeth.

In some cases, dental hygienists may provide more complex procedures such as fillings or crowns. Most hygienists work in dental offices, but some also travel to schools or other institutions to provide basic preventive oral care.

  • Scrapes plaque from teeth
  • Scales and polishes teeth
  • Removes tartar with a scraper or a dental instrument called an explorer
  • Inserts sealants to fill in deep pits and help prevent cavities
  • Injects local anesthesia into the gum below tooth as needed
  • Localizes pain by using freezing equipment, needles, or brushing the area of infected gums with analgesic gel
  • Treats an infected or painful gum with a scaler, medication, or laser
  • Removes plaque from hard-to-reach areas of teeth and gums
  • Detects changes in a patient’s mouth that might indicate tumors or cancer
  • Replaces crowns on teeth

How Much do Dental Hygienists make?

Dental Hygienists typically earn an annual salary somewhere between $42,000 to $86,000. The median salary for Dental Hygienists in the US is around $70,000.

What are the Educational Requirements for a Dental Hygienist?

To become a dental hygienist you’ll need at least two or three years of college, dental hygienist courses and certification. Although individual states require different standards for licensing, most employers prefer to hire people with formal training in dental hygiene.

You can prepare yourself to become a dental hygienist by enrolling in one of the many accredited programs across the country.

Dental hygienist courses are post-secondary training programs that will give you the skills needed in order to provide dental care. These courses will cover everything from how to properly clean teeth and perform procedures like scaling, root planing and debridement, to taking radiographs (x-rays), teaching preventive dental care and providing laser therapy.

Dental hygienists need at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, but some get bachelor’s degrees. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer the required courses.

Some universities offer dental hygiene programs, which usually require two years of full-time study and include classroom, laboratory, and clinical work.

All programs include courses in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics , patient care, and periodontics (treatment of gum disease). Programs also offer related subjects such as calculus or business management.

What is the Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for dental care is going to increase. It is predicted that the employment opportunities in the field will increase by 22%. The number of jobs has been growing in recent years and they are predicted to continue to grow over the next decade. The salaries also tend to be quite high, averaging around $66,400.

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Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

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