What is a dental hygienist?
Dental hygienists are professionals who are primarily concerned with oral healthcare. Unlike dentists, they are more concerned with providing preventative care than diagnosing oral diseases. The primary responsibilities of dental hygienists include removing plaque and tartar from the teeth, and advising patients on the best products to use to maintain healthy teeth. Careers in dentistry are gaining popularity as people are becoming more aware of the importance of healthy oral hygiene. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for these professionals is expected to increase by 38% between 2010 and 2020, much higher than other occupations.
What kind of training is needed to become a dental hygienist?
Most dental hygienists earn an associate's degree from a community college or a technical school. Associate's degrees typically take two years to complete. However, a larger number of students are now enrolling in bachelor's degree programs in order to get a more comprehensive education. Some students are even going a step further and taking graduate level courses to sharpen their skills. Another increasingly popular choice is enrolling in online degree programs. More and more schools are offering accredited programs for students to choose. Having a high school diploma or a valid GED may allow you to apply to these programs. A dental hygiene program may offer classes that cover various topics in oral healthcare, and teach how to communicate with patients and advise them on the best oral hygiene practices.
What are the primary responsibilities of a dental hygienist?
Depending on where you choose to work, your level of expertise, and licensing credentials, the responsibilities entrusted to you will vary. In some practices, you may be responsible for filling out cavities in a dentist's office. In other cases, you will be conducting oral X-rays or advising patients and evaluating their oral health. A good way of increasing your chances of gaining employment is to spend your time as a student interning and taking up apprenticeships within private or public facilities. This will get you experience and help you sharpen your communication and problem-solving skills, which are crucial to the job.
Dental hygienist salary
One of the major questions asked is how much money a dental hygienist can make. This will depend on your expertise and employer along with other possible factors. However, what is certain is that a typical dental hygienist salary is quite a decent amount. According to the BLS, the median salary for the year 2010 was $68,250 annually. However, the top 10 percent of hygienists were reported to be making slightly above $90,000 a year. With improvements in healthcare technology, the need for a competent medical staff is also increasing.