Dental hygienists perform dental services such as cleanings, X-rays and preventative maintenance under the direction of a dentist. In addition, they instruct and educate dental patients about methods of maintaining good oral health and avoiding oral disease.
Entry-level dental hygienist positions can be acquired with an associate degree, but a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in dental hygiene can put you ahead of the competition with a higher salary. The Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner is offered by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHP).
Every state requires dental hygienists to complete lincensure before practicing. Most states require that in addition to obtaining an associate degree in the subject, the candidate pass an examination as well as the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination. Once a license has been granted, dental hygienists can add “RDH” (Registered Dental Hygienist) to their titles.
The majority of dental hygienists work in dentists’ offices, but they can also apply their skills in numerous other locations, providing dental hygiene and oral care in institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, public health clinics and schools.
Dental hygienists perform essential patient services such as the following:
To be successful, the dental hygienist should possess a number of interpersonal skills beyond the technical training required to obtain a degree. The hygienist works under the direction of a dentist and in collaboration with other dental professionals. As a member of the dental treatment team, the hygienist requires teamwork, the ability to motivate patients to commit to regular oral maintenance and good manual dexterity to avoid causing the patient discomfort or injury when using dental devices and instruments.
The Department of Labor predicts faster than average growth for dental hygienists well into the next decade. Dental hygiene work offers both flexibility and stability, and job prospects should be excellent for qualified candidates.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2006 indicate that the average wage for dental hygienists was about $30.19 per hour. Dental hygienist salaries can vary depending on several factors, including education and experience, the hygienist’s responsibilities, and the geographic.
A 2006 survey of the 50 fastest-growing careers in the U.S., conducted by Money magazine and Salary.com, lists dental hygienist in the top 10.