Becoming a Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienists are oral health professionals. They generally work under the supervision of licensed Dentists. Their main jobs include conducting patient assessments, oral inspections, teeth cleaning, teaching about oral hygiene, providing therapeutic services on oral healthcare, clinical and medical research etc. The Dental Hygienists educate people on the issues related to oral healthcare and how to prevent the diseases.

They work in hospitals, clinical settings, dental clinics, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. The key skill sets Dental Hygienists require are Dexterity, interpersonal skills, decision-making skills and critical-thinking skills.

Education Requirements: An Associate’s Degree is the entry-level education for Dental Hygienists. They can avail a two-year Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene programs from any community colleges, vocational education institutes or dental schools. The major coursework in Associate’s Degree program includes oral pathology, dental science, radiology, periodontics, community dental health and pharmacology.

Licensing: All 50 states in the United States require Dental Hygienists to hold licenses. An Associate’s Degree, School transcripts and letters of recommendations are needed to qualify to appear in the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA), which issues licenses.

Higher Education: Although it’s not mandatory, a higher degree in Bachelor’s or Master’s will boost the career of Dental Hygienists. The additional degrees and education will them go beyond the dental clinics and get employment in research and teaching.

Salary & Job Outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a Dental Hygienist was $71,110 per year in 2013. The job outlook remains bright for this profession, as it is projected to grow at 33% during the period 2012-22.