Blog > Licensing

Dental Hygienist

Introduction:

A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who works under the supervision of a licensed dentist. He/she would involve in teaching the patients the proper oral hygiene. In addition, he/she may also conduct some patient assessments, oral inspections in addition to some teeth cleanings. He/she would also educate the patients on the ways for improving and maintaining the oral health.

Job Description:

The roles and responsibilities of a dental hygienist would include the following:

  • Removal of any tartar, stain and/or plaque from the patients’ teeth

  • Application of sealants and fluorides for help protecting the patients’ teeth

  • Capture and development of dental X-rays

  • Keep tracking the patient care as well as the treatment plans

  • Educating the patients on oral hygiene techniques which includes:

    • How to brush

    • Floss correctly




As such, a dental hygienist would require handling many types of tools in order to perform his/her job:

  • He/she would require cleaning and polishing the patient’s teeth with hand, power and sometimes with ultrasonic tools

  • He/she would remove any stain with an air-polishing device. This device would spray a mixture of air + water + baking soda

  • He/she would polish the patient’s teeth by using a powered tool which would work as an automatic toothbrush

  • He/she would use X-ray machines for capturing pictures in order to check for tooth as well as jaw problems


How to Become a Dental Hygienist?

Educational Requirements:

Typically, a dental hygienist would require an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. There are some bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene but they are less common. More usually, a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be required for the purposes of:

  • Research

  • Teaching

  • Clinical practice in any public or school health programs


If you are a high school student who is interested in becoming a dental hygienist, then you should take your courses in the following subjects:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Mathematics


Few of the programs in dental hygiene would also require you to have completed at least one year of college. As a dental hygiene student, you would study:

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Nutrition

  • Radiography

  • Periodontology


Training and Certification:

All the states in the United States would require the dental hygienists to be licensed and the requirements would vary from one state to another. Mostly, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program followed by the passing grades on written as well as practical examinations will be required for licensure.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

The job market of dental hygienists is projected to increase by 33% from the year 2012 to 2022 which is much faster when compared with the average for all other occupations. The ongoing research on oral as well as general health will increase the demand for dental services which in turn would increase the demand for dental hygienists.

Pay:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of United States Department of Labor, the average annual pay for a dental hygienist is $70,210 which is $33.75 per hour.

Summary:

Average Pay                                        :           $70,210

Education                                            :           Associate’s degree

Number of Jobs, 2012                         :           192,800

Employment Growth from 2012 to 2022         :           33%

On-the-job training                              :           None

Work Experience                                 :           None