Interested in becoming a dental hygienist?
Great! This article is for you…
As you know, a dental hygienist refers to an oral health care professional who works under close supervision by a certified dentist.
Key duties include teaching your patients oral hygiene, conducting oral inspections, patient assessment, and teeth cleaning.
In this post, I’ll enlighten you on what it takes to become a fully licensed dental hygienist.
WHO IS A DENTAL HYGIENIST?
As I’ve already stated above, being a dental hygienist involves working side by side with a licensed dentist.
And your primary job revolves around delivering preventive oral health care, cleaning your patients’ teeth, and teaching them the importance of taking care of their teeth and gums.
You’ll also offer your patients sound advice on the best healthcare equipment to use. You’ll utilize a variety of tools to clean, polish your patients’ teeth- e.g., ultrasonic, scrapers, laser, and power devices.
Above all, you’ll be tasked with taking and developing x-rays as well as document your patients’ issues.
WHERE WILL YOU WORK FROM?
As a licensed dental hygienist, you can find employment in many areas- like hospitals, private dental offices, dental schools, public health clinics, and research facilities.
The average annual salary for a licensed dental hygienist is around $72,910 per year as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And if you’re among the lucky hygienists, you’ll also receive free dental checkups as well as vacation and health insurance benefits.
HERE’S HOW TO BECOME A DENTAL HYGIENIST:
Becoming a licensed dental hygienist takes a process. I’ve simplified this process into four critical steps to make it easy for you to understand.
Let’s take a closer look at these four crucial steps:
#1. DEFINE YOUR CAREER GOALS
The first step in beginning your new career as a dental hygienist involves determining the type of program to enroll in (based on your career goal). You can choose to enroll for a certificate, associates or bachelor’s degree programs.
Certificate or associates programs will land you a job in any private dental office. But if you want to work in public health, teaching or research facilities, then you’re better off enrolling for a bachelor’s degree.
#2. ENROLL IN A DENTAL HYGIENIST PROGRAM
After deciding on which program to enroll in, next you should focus on the appropriate dental hygiene program for you.
Keep in mind that this program involves attending classrooms, labs, and clinical components.
#3. GET LICENSED
After completing the two crucial steps above, you’ll have to obtain a license before you can begin working as a dental hygienist.
How do you obtain a license for your new career?
The essential requirements involve graduating from an approved program as well as passing an examination that comprises both clinical and written components.
The written examination is usually administered by the American Dental Association (ADA) while the clinical component would be administered by your state clinical board.
Note that some states might also require you to take an extra exam concerning legal matters.
#4. ADVANCING YOUR CAREER
Once you obtain your license, you’re now free to look for a job and work as either full-time or part-time (if you wish to work with different dentists) dental hygienists!
Besides, you might also want to advance your career such that you can work outside the dental office.
In such case, you can enroll for a master’s degree. This will give you a chance to work in teaching, research, or even selling and marketing different oral health products. If you have interests in research, you might also consider getting a doctorate as well.
What if you want to advance your career as you continue working in the dental office?
Well, for this case, you might consider going to a dental school and become a professional dentist.
If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, this post will guide you through all the steps and requirements needed to make your dream come true.
You’ll first need to have a clear picture of your career goals. Then, you can go ahead and enroll in dental hygienist program in your state, get licensed and eventually look for a job with an attractive average annual salary of $72,910.
And if you want to take your career to a higher level, advancement programs are also available for you.
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