Before you ask how to become a dental hygienist and decide if you want to pursue the idea any further, you need to be knowledgeable about what they do and what they are. Basically, a dental hygienist is a professional– an oral health professional to be exact. These people are supervised by the dentist and work under one.
What To Dental Hygienists Do?
The dental hygienist has a full job description: Aside from being able and capable of explaining to patients what the proper oral hygiene is, they can also conduct oral inspections, patient assessments, and teeth cleanings– which basically are somewhat the same as what a dentist would do.
A dental hygienist can either work in a specialty dental clinic, a general clinic, hospitals, health care facilities or nursing homes.
Being a dental hygienist degree is not an easy thing because you need to take precautions to prevent the spreading of the infection and assist during the x-rays. Aside from that, you also need to spend a lot of time leaning or standing in front of the patient.
What Are The Career Requirements In Being A Dental Hygienist?
Typically, an associate degree is required if you want to be a dental hygienist. However, if you want to achieve more and widen your prospects, then you can pursue the master’s or bachelor’s degree programs.
Which is a good idea if you want to earn a better salary and get more job offers. These programs will be about how to use dental tools, machines, and software.
There are a lot of courses that will be taught during the schooling and some of these courses include dental materials, infection control, radiology, periodontics, pain management, oral pathology, pharmacology and community dental health.
You must also be able to develop interpersonal skills because you will work with the patients almost every day and explain to them the proper dental procedures.
Skills To Be Developed
Aside from that, you need to show compassion because there may be a lot of patients who are afraid of dental procedures and there are those who are currently in pain.
These skills are not hard to develop. If you are starting to have classes, then you would already be talking to the other students or your instructors.
Also, a proper body mechanics course is needed. You should also be aware that being a dental hygienist can be risky because of the long hours that you spend in awkward positions during dental sessions with patients. If you are still in school, grab the opportunity in earning the preventive techniques and all the other training to manage the risk in order to keep yourself healthy.
There might be some schools without this course so you should check this out online. You also need to develop other skills such as decision making, dexterity, and critical thinking. In all the states, licensing is a requirement aside from a degree.
And all these hardships will come to an end once you become a licensed dental hygienist and you can earn an average of $72,720 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in the year 2015.
How To Become A Dental Hygienist?
Basically, there are three steps to becoming a dental hygienist.
First Step: Get Yourself An Undergraduate Degree
Usually, a dental hygienist has to have an associate degree. These are typically Associate for Applied Science. There are a lot of degree programs available which can be pursued for two years at vocational institutes, community colleges or dental schools. Through this, students can prepare themselves not only inside the classroom but also in clinical instruction.
Second Step: Get Licensed
In order to be a dental hygienist, you need to be licensed, and this is the law in the United States. Requirements may vary in different countries but basically, they would require the applicant to have post-secondary credentials from an accredited dental hygiene program. They might also require you to have a CPR certification, letter of recommendation and transcripts.
Once you comply with all these requirements, you are ready to sit and take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination– this is a written exam that is conducted by the American Dental Association. Once this is completed, you need to pass a state or regional clinical board exam.
Third Step: Try Considering And Advanced Degree
Even though having an associate degree is sufficient to become a dental hygienist, you might want to advance your career by earning a higher degree as a dental hygienist. Once you got a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, then you will be eligible to do some dental teaching or research.
Also, if you are working in a school clinic or public health institute these positions may require you to have a higher degree.
In the year 2015, the Commission on Dental Accreditation has approved more than 300 new programs for dental hygiene. So if you are still looking for the perfect program for you, then you might get overwhelmed with the number of programs to choose from. There are search tools available online that will help you find what exactly you need.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Dental Hygienist?
There are a lot of choices for a person wanting to become a dental hygienist. You can go to any of the specialized dental schools or community colleges.
These can provide you extensive knowledge and great opportunities, and it varies from school to school. So it is important to make a thorough review before committing yourself to it. You can go to a vocational or trade school from where you can pass out in three years.
However, there is a specialized course wherein the load is quite heavy, but the student can start working after 17 months. You can also choose to go to a dental school, this school can give you a master’s degree and this school is solely focused on teaching about oral health. There are also a lot of other choices like community colleges and 4-year courses offered by schools, and it is up to you to decide which one suits you best.