The hygienist performs the following duties:
- Administers Anesthesia
- Responsible for performing dental cleaning, polishing, and gold inlays
- Performs fluoride treatment
- Takes dental x-rays
- Examines patient's teeth and gums
- Prepares the tests which the dentist operates on the patient
- Apply the filling material
- Removes sutures
- Acts as office assistant and laboratory technician in dental offices
- Remove plaque and apply sealants
In order to become a good hygienist, one needs to take up a dental course from a reputed institute that is approved by the American Dental Association. You can either opt for the Associate degree, which is commonly a two year program or the Bachelor's degree or Master's degree is surely more appreciated and ensures better placement. All hygienists need to complete two years of study at a dental school in order to get certified license from the state government.
Students who have the inclination towards medical sciences and dentistry can take up courses in dental hygienist. The only criterion is that the applicant needs to have completed high school. The course study covers algebra, biology, chemistry, as in any science based course. While on the other hand, courses that are specific to dental hygienists are oral anatomy, nutrition, clinical skills, radiography, and material science. A bachelor's degree in this field takes four years; dental hygienists with an associate degree take up this course to enhance their career and clinical expertise. After your PG, you can specialize in their field of interest like Lab Instruction, Healthcare Management, and Clinical Instruction etc.
After completing the course the dental hygienists get the reputed state license from their respective state authority. For acquiring the license, one needs to complete a minimum degree of two years, and pass the state administered clinical examination.
Having prior experience in the field of dental hygiene is a plus in your career as it can ensure a steadily growing career graph. Gain prior knowledge by teaching dental hygiene in schools or enlisting for relevant education programs. Experience in the related arenas like office management, business admin and research can prove advantageous.
Employment opportunities for dental hygienists are plenty like that in any other healthcare job. According to the census conducted in 2006, there were 167,000 people employed as Dental Hygienists. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in this field are growing, and there will be overwhelming openings until 2016.
You can improve your future prospects by completing your master's degree and by completing the advanced courses developed by the American Dental Association and become an Advanced Dental Hygienist. These practitioners are also called dental therapists. A hygienist begins by assisting a dentist, but if they take up an advanced course, they can set up their own clinic, do research, and even be a faculty member at any dental institute. Dental hygiene is not a part of vanilla medical stream; it comes under advanced Medical Science; a hygienist is usually referred by a dentist. Although it's a relatively new field, it will gradually get recognition. The Dental Hygienist works under the supervision of a dentist.
The pay for a hygienist varies from state to state; on an average one can make $40 in an hour. Their average salary of a dental hygienist is around $65,590 annually.
Dental Hygienist career is an emerging field and an increasing number of students are opting for this course every year today.