Dental hygiene schools will prepare you for a professional where you have opportunity to help others upkeep their dental health. As with most health care related positions, careers in dental health are on the rise. If you have the right dental training you can pursue a career as a dental technician or dental assistant. You can find a dental hygiene school near you and get an associate degree in dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is important for both health and aesthetic reasons and dental hygienists, work with dentists to promote good dental care and to prevent related health ailments.
Dental Hygienist Education and Training
To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need to have either a two-year or four-year degree from an accredited dental hygiene school. Programs are offered by at community colleges and two year degree granting institutions. At dental colleges you would also be trained to make people feel as comfortable as possible in the dental chair.
Dental hygienists typically require an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, although certificates, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees in dental hygiene are also available but less common (Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS).
To perform all these tasks you would have to take courses in dental anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, math, periodontics, oral health other sciences. Students also take courses in microbiology, pharmacology, radiography, nutrition, histology, periodontology, pathology, dental materials, and clinical dental hygiene. Other courses may include:
- Oral Biology
- Dental Anatomy
- Oral Radiology for Dental Hygiene
- Clinical Techniques
- Clinical Rotations (Practicum)
Most dental hygiene programs grant an associate degree to their students but others grant a certificate. A minimum of an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene is usually required to work in a private dental office. In addition, dentist receptionist training courses may be offered, or learned as part of the job training.
Dental hygienists are required to be licensed by the state in which they practice. In order to qualify for licensure, they must have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program and pass and clinical exams. Request information about colleges in your area or online dental assistant programs to learn more about this related career.
Dental Hygienist Careers
As a dental hygienist or dental technician, you would work chair side as dentists examine and treat patients. You would also prepare patients for treatment, perform cleaning procedures and obtain dental records. Dental hygienists work in private dental offices for licensed dentists, hospitals, public health clinics, dental schools, and dental hygiene education programs. Most programs are two years long and lead to an associate’s degree. They are offered through community colleges and technical colleges and community colleges.
Dental hygienists prepare supplies for making impressions and restorations, take oral x-rays, and develop the film under a dentist’s supervision. You may also be responsible for removing sutures, applying treatment to gum and teeth using topical anesthetics and cavity-preventing agents respectively, cleaning up excess cement from a filling, and placing special rubber dams on teeth for isolation before individual treatment.
Forming casts of teeth and mouth is performed in the laboratory in addition to cleaning and polishing of detachable appliances and making temporary crowns. Office assistants are responsible for scheduling and reminding patients of appointments, checking patients in, managing bills and payments, keeping records, and ordering dental materials.
Dental hygienists teach patients proper dental care – brushing and losing for example. They also use various equipment such as ray equipment and clean teeth using ultrasonic, rotary, and manual tools. Some states license dental hygienists to:
- Place and removing filling materials, temporary fillings and periodontal dressings
- Smooth and polish metal restorations
- Prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests for the dentist to interpret
- Administer anesthetics
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
Most dental offices require you to have completed career-focused training from accredited dental hygiene schools. In many dental schools you can complete your training within one to two years depending on your track. There are many careers available in the dental industry. In fact, dental assisting is considered to be one of the fastest-growing positions in the United States job market.
After graduating from dental hygiene schools, dental careers pay from 9.00 to $40.00 an hour, varying with training and experience, and many careers also offer health and dental benefits.
The median annual wage of dental hygienists was $68,250 in 2010. The median wage for the lowest 10% was less than $45,000, and the top 10% earned more over $93,820. The employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 38% from 2010 to 2020 (BLS).