Dental hygienists are medical professionals who work with the dentist to provide preventative oral care to patients. This may include cleaning patients’ teeth and examining them for signs of damage and disease. The job of a dental hygienist also includes teaching young children about the importance of maintaining good oral health. However, a dental hygienist’s exact job duties and functions and the services they can legally deliver vary according to the state in which they can practice.
Why become a dental hygienist?
- Flexible working hours where you can even work in a floating position
- Earn competitive salary (even more than the average healthcare technicians
- The demand for a dental hygienist is snowballing in the United States of America and around the world.
- Requires only an associate degree as opposed to being a dentist, which requires years of training and a dozen of other degrees
- The job of a dental hygienist also allows one to work in a calm, relaxed, and interactive environment.
- Dental hygienist not only helps people feel better about their smiles and oral health but also help them live healthier lives.
- Enjoy the satisfaction of using your own hands and moving about while working rather than being confined to a single desk.
- Chance to experience something new every day since no two patients are ever the same
- Job stability: ever-increasing life expectancy means an ever-growing pool of patients
- Opportunities to advance forward are always an option.
Duties and responsibilities of dental hygienist
- Interact with patients and take a detailed dental history
- Conduct a preliminary exam on each new patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth.
- Assist the dentist by working chair-side,
- Prepare diagnostic tests for the dentists to administer,
- Apply fluoride and sealants to patients’ teeth,
- The job of a dental hygienist also includes teaching patients how to care for and maintain good oral health.
- Document and maintain patients’ records to track treatment and care.
- Take and develop dental x-rays
- Perform dental cleanings to remove soft and hard deposits on patients’ teeth.
- Part of the job of a dental hygienist also includes smoothing and polishing metal restorations,
- Remove sutures (if required),
- Help prepare patients for dental surgery or procedures.
- Administer anesthetics
- Apply periodontal dressings, temporary fillings, or filling materials.
Skills required for the job of a dental hygienist
While choosing a career as a dental hygienist may have a lot of benefits, one must possess the skills required for the job as well. Some of the skills needed for the job of a dental hygienist include:
- Have a passion for the task
- Possess a caring, empathic, and compassionate personality
- The desire to help others and improve their oral healthcare
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Be a good listener
- Patience and tolerance
- Sound interpersonal skills
- Strong communication skills
- The job of a dental hygienist also requires one to maintain a non-judgmental
- Attitude at all times.
- Ability to recognize when a patient is anxious or uncomfortable and then reassuring them
- Excellent motor skills since they will be working inside the patient’s mouth
- An eye for detail
- Physical stamina since dental hygienist spends a lot of time on their feet
Educational Requirements for the job
- Obtain an associate or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited dental hygiene school
- Apply for a license from the dental board in the state in which you want to practice
- Pass the written and clinical exam
- Obtain a master’s degree (optional)
What about salary?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of dental hygiene will grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average of all medical occupations. Moreover, working as a dental hygienist, one can expect to earn somewhere between $51,180 to $101,330 annually based on their education, experience level, location, and industry. Nonetheless, with so many benefits and more, the job of a dental hygienist is indeed worth considering when deciding on a career path.