How to Become a Dental Hygienist: Ultimate Guide

How to Become a Dental Hygienist: There are numerous reasons why a career as a dental hygienist may appear appealing. Despite the competitive salary and flexible work hours, a dental hygienist’s day is never dull. Although you perform the same tasks, each patient will have different needs, concerns, and dental health education. Your communication style and techniques will need to be adjusted accordingly. Continue reading if you want to learn how to become a dental hygienist or which degree is best for a dentist.

Furthermore, the dental hygienist profession is not only growing, but it also provides a career path for people who want to work in the dental field. If you are interested in this profession, you must meet certain requirements that will not only qualify you for the position but will also educate you on overall oral health.

Who is a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists is a trained healthcare professional that evaluate patient’s oral health by performing various cleanings and inspections. They also assist dentists and work with patients to maintain good oral health by teaching them proper oral hygiene.

A dental hygienist works in various settings, including private practice, public health, hospitals, long-term care facilities, educational institutions, and research. Dental hygienists specialize in disease prevention but can also help with orthodontic procedures such as braces. Some also have a specialist certificate and work in dental, such as filling cavities.

Roles of Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Removing stains, calcareous deposits, and accretions from teeth and gum lines
  • Examining gums with probes for periodontal recessed gums and symptoms of gum disease
  • Examining the lymph nodes under the patient’s chin for swelling or soreness, which could indicate oral cancer.
  • Prevent tooth decay, use fluoride or other cavity-prevention treatments.

5 Reasons You Should Become a Dental Hygienist

1. Work in a Relaxed and Interactive Environment

Dentists make an effort to give patients a relaxing and welcoming environment. These initiatives typically result in dental offices being welcoming and pleasant workplace places. You will have daily interactions with people of various ages and backgrounds as a dental hygienist working in this type of setting, helping to allay any fears and making sure their visits go smoothly. You can even develop relationships with your repeat patients over time.

2. Every day is Unique

Dental hygienists see a lot of patients every day. Patients will have different needs, worries, and difficulties when performing similar tasks. Each patient will require an extra level of interaction, oral care, and dental health education, so you must be prepared to modify your communication style and techniques accordingly. There won’t be any two days that are exactly alike, and you never know what the day may hold ahead.

3. Lifelong Career

Dental hygienists at the entry-level can leave college and enter a rewarding career quickly. The best part is that you can change your hours as your needs and lifestyle change throughout your career. Being a dental hygienist gives you considerable flexibility and advantages throughout parenthood, empty nesting, and even a quiet retirement.

4. Flexible Work Schedule

As a dental hygienist, you can probably find any work schedule you desire. Dental hygienists can work full- or part-time, and many only put in a few hours per week. You might even hold a floating job, where you spend the week working at various offices. In this line of work, you can frequently tailor your schedule to meet your individual needs and keep a healthy work-life balance.

5. Aid others in enhancing their health

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Beyond just the flexible work schedule, dental hygiene has many benefits. Poor oral health can contribute to serious illnesses and problems with your general health, including cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications, and more. Dental hygienists play a crucial role in assisting patients in leading healthier lives while also making them feel better about their smiles and oral health.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists must have at least an associate degree in dental hygiene and be licensed by the state. If you are seeking career advancement consider pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene. These advanced degrees can help you get jobs outside the dental office, such as teaching and research. A career plan outlines your short and long-term career goals, as well as the steps necessary to achieve them. You can use this plan to determine which degree is best for you, where to complete an internship, how to obtain a licence, and so on. Each of these prerequisites will be discussed in greater detail.

Steps to Become a Dental Hygienist

Steps to becoming a Dental Hygenist are as follows;

  1. Learn about careers as a Dental Hygienist
  2. Pick a Specialty
  3. Enrol in a Dental Hygene Program
  4. Gain Internship Experience
  5. Dental Hygienist Licensing

1. Learn about careers as a Dental Hygienist

List out the qualities you are looking for in a career before starting a path to education and spending your hard-earned money on tuition. Spend some time considering short-term and long-term objectives, from average salary to work-life balance. When you’ve finished, evaluate your list to see if it matches the characteristics of dental hygienists who enjoy their jobs.

For instance, you might find it challenging to interact with patients all day if you prefer to work alone. Therefore, you might not be a good fit for the dental industry. To enjoy this career, you’ll need people skills and feel comfortable working on patients’ mouths because you’ll be doing most of the work with your hands in close quarters. Ask someone currently employed in this field, even your dental hygienist (if you have one), what they think about the career.

2. Pick a Specialty

Selecting a dental specialization while you are still in school is crucial to launch your career. However, there are a lot of things you should think about before making this choice. Make sure you are first introduced to various specialties other than the most well-known ones. Most students want to pursue a passion of theirs, but they are not well-versed in many academic fields.

Also, contrast your abilities with what is needed in the dental industry. You’re on the right track if your skills align with the job requirements. After choosing a specialty, look for internship opportunities. You can expand your knowledge and skills while gaining experience through an internship. We shall discuss internship in no distant time.

3. Enrol in a Dental Hygene Program

These programmes cover general education, biomedical science, dental science, and dental hygiene, whether you opt for an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Oral health, dental software, equipment, machines, imaging, pain management, and infection control are a few of the subjects covered in the curricula. You’ll learn a lot about this field, and you’ll also improve your communication and interpersonal skills.

You need to have at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene to work as a dental hygienist. A bachelor’s degree is preferred by some employers for dental hygienists, and advanced positions may call for a master’s degree.

Lets talk about these academic dental hygienist programs.

Associate Degree
Associate degree programs call for supervised clinical experience and general coursework in oral health. Eight to twelve hours of practical training are required for this coursework each week, increasing to 12 to sixteen hours in the program’s second year.

Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree program can last several years, depending on the institution. If you already have an associate degree, it can reduce the typical time frame if applicants already have an associate degree. Compared to a two-year program, this type focuses more on in-depth subjects. It is for dental hygienists who want to learn more about specialized treatment. Some four-year program topics may cover theory and research in dental health or dental conditions. These courses may also include liberal arts instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Talking about schools, you do not need to go searching for schools because we have specially for you best dental school in different states in America that will give you the training you need to be top in the dental industry.

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Master’s Degree
Dental hygienists who want to research, teach, or work in administration should enroll in master’s degree programs. These courses usually last between one and two years. To earn their degree, you must complete a capstone project.

Each program is rigorous and demands a lot of time and study. The amount of study time required will vary depending on the student and how quickly knowledge and information are retained. The time spent in class varies depending on the program and the organization.

These dental schools also offer masters degree education

4. Gain Internship Experience

The best course of action would be for you to look into finishing your dental assisting internship at a dental office. For certification, this internship should last up to a year. Working with other dental professionals and actual patients provides hands-on learning and practical skills that you cannot acquire through theoretical knowledge.

You will do nothing during the program’s initial four weeks except watch. Asking questions and looking into ways to develop your skill set beyond the fundamentals are best done at this stage. You will gradually begin working with patients once you have earned your RDA (registered dental assistant) certification and gained confidence.

5. Dental Hygienist Licensing

Confirm in your country, state, or region the body that is in charge of licensing. In some countries like Switzerland, the Swiss Red Cross handles licensing of Dental hygienists. The United States has the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a state-authorized licensure exam before becoming licensed dental hygienists. Candidates’ knowledge of critical dental topics and clinical dental hygiene skills are evaluated on the state exam. You’ll be able to start working as a dental hygienist once you pass the exam!

6. Apply for Jobs

You can begin applying for jobs once you have earned your degree, obtained your licence, and prepared your portfolio. You need impressive qualifications to set yourself apart from the competition. The following skills are essential to include on your resume: knowledge of dentistry, tolerance, communication skills, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and adaptability. Your likelihood of being hired may increase if you have relevant work experience, such as on-the-job training, supervised clinical experience, and entry-level job experience.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist Without a Degree

To become a dental hygienist without a degree, you must complete an accredited program. In the United States, numerous accredited programs can take the place of the typical degree.

These programs teach dental hygiene and prepare you for the demanding workplace. They are by no means simple and demand a lot of work to succeed, but if you want to forego the conventional path of earning a degree, this is a fantastic option.

You must pass a two-part exam at the end of the course to pass. You will have to retake the course and the exam if you don’t pass.

Additionally, these programs provide additional credentials and abilities that you can acquire to be considered for other jobs within the dental office. These credentials include helping administer mouth anesthesia and collaborating with X-ray technicians, among other things.

These accredited programs not only give you the training and resources required for the job but also give you the chance to gain practical experience working in a dental office. After that, you can start working at a dental office with little to no on-the-job training.

However, note that most health care outfits gives priority to degree holders.

How Long it takes to Become a Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist programme takes over to 2 years to complete depending on the learning path you follow. An Associate Degree takes 3 years; 2 years of academic research plus one year internship. A bachelors degree in Dental Hygiene takes 4 years. You can decide if you want to go for Masters or not. This allows plenty of time to learn the necessary skills, become acquainted with the anatomy of the teeth and gums, study medical ethics, periodontics, gain hands-on experience, and prepare for the licence exams.

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Finding a Job as a Dental Hygienist

As a potential dental hygienist must complete your education to practice, but you also need to find employment in the industry. Dental hygienists should stand out from other job applicants with solid credentials. A dental hygienist’s resume should emphasize on dentistry knowledge, patience, interpersonal skills, communication skills, attention to detail, and talent. Additionally, people should have relevant work experience, such as on-the-job education, supervised clinical practice, and entry-level employment.

You should think about continuing your education to improve your employability. You may be better qualified for advanced positions or employment outside the dental office, such as teaching, research, or administrative positions, with the help of an advanced degree, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on its analysis of the job outlook, this profession is seeing rapid job growth. Location will affect a dental hygienist’s job prospects.

If you have a passion for the work or want to enter the dental field with little education, becoming a dental hygienist can be a rewarding career choice. You must fulfill the educational and licensing requirements for this profession to work there and start helping patients of all ages.

Dental Hygienist Salary

Dental hygienists typically have fulfilling careers and get the satisfaction of assisting patients daily in improving their oral health. Since most dental offices keep regular business hours, if you decide to pursue this career, you’ll probably be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, the financial benefits of this career are also significant, particularly if you hope to earn a certain amount of money each year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in the top tenth percentile of the profession can anticipate incomes of about $104,420, while newly graduated dental hygienists typically earn $54,200. The current median average is $77,090. This number can change depending on several factors like experience. 

Conclusion

A career as a dental hygienist is promising. You must fulfill the necessary academic requirements, be licensed, and have a solid portfolio to become one. Hence, if you are motivated by a sense of fulfillment and purpose and have a strong desire to work with people, a career in dental hygiene might be a good fit for you.

FAQ

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

In the course of a patient’s dental appointment, dental hygienists provide vital services. As an RDA, you’ll evaluate a patient’s oral health, perform therapeutic and preventive dental cleanings, apply antimicrobials, sealants, temporary therapeutic restorations, and more. To inform patients about the value of good oral health, evaluate their needs, and administer the necessary care, you will use radiographs, local anesthesia, fluoride, and oral hygiene aids.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?

You can earn an associate of science degree in dental hygiene. After finishing the program, you are qualified to sit for local and national board exams.

What Requirements Do I Need to Meet to Become a Dental Hygienist?

The academic requirements for dental hygienists must first be satisfied. The basic requirement is an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Along with earning a degree, you also need to pass licensing tests. Countries have different licensing requirements to work as dental hygienists.

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