Dental hygienists are licensed dental professionals. They are registered with the dental association or some other regulatory body. They work in dental practices and provide routine cleanings for patients. In some states, a dental hygienist is also known as an oral hygienist. Hygienists are trained in a specific area of dentistry, such as orthodontics, x-rays, and periodontal disease.
The dental hygienist salary depends on a variety of factors. Your educational background, experience, and location of employment all contribute to your overall salary. Entry-level hygienists may earn lower salaries than advanced hygienists in other fields. In addition, dental hygienists may work at a dental office or in a hospital or nursing home, where they can help patients. Besides private practice settings, dental corporations also hire hygienists.
Dental hygienists help patients prevent cavities and gum disease. They work in conjunction with dentists to improve and document patient care. They also provide education to patients on proper oral care. They use different types of dental equipment and X-ray machines to detect dental problems and provide proper care. Hygienists can also perform preventative procedures, such as applying sealants to protect teeth. In addition to performing preventative treatments, dental hygienists also help patients to improve their oral health.
As with any other dental program, a dental hygienist degree will prepare students to work in a clinic setting. Graduates will be prepared to practice infection control protocols, teach clients about oral health, and be responsible members of the dental team. Students will apply critical thinking skills and learn how to motivate their clients toward good oral health. The program prepares students to be competent dental hygienists, and they may choose to pursue baccalaureate degree programs or other disciplines related to dental health.
Although dental hygiene is a rewarding career, the job requires a high level of attention to detail and physical stamina, as hygienists spend a majority of their time working on their feet. As the population ages, the need for dental care will likely increase. Moreover, research has shown that oral health is related to overall health, which increases the number of people needing preventive dental care services.
While a dental hygiene degree is the most common way to become a hygienist, it’s not necessary for a hygienist to have a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to practice. The first year of a dental hygiene degree program consists of classroom courses, and supervised clinical experience. Students should expect to gain at least eight to 12 hours of hands-on practice each week, increasing that number by up to 16 hours in the second year. While this degree is ideal for people who are already employed as dental assistants, students should still expect to face a number of challenges in the first few years.
Depending on the state you live in, you may need to take a dental hygiene examination in order to gain licensure. In New York, you must take both a clinical and written exam. To take a dental hygiene examination, contact the appropriate examination agency to obtain the necessary forms and information. Application deadlines vary depending on the examination agency. After completing the program, you must submit the results of two examinations that the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations requires of prospective hygienists.