Looking for information on how to become a dental hygienist? You have come to the right place. In this section, we will go through what is required for you to get into the field of dental hygiene and what is expected in the role.
The dental field, similar to the medical field, has always been a popular career choice of many because of job prospects and also well-paid salaries. Statistics show that if you were to graduate with a degree in dental hygiene right now, you would be employed almost immediately. Being a dental hygienist allows you to work in diverse areas of the dental field due to its dynamic and ever expanding nature, and according to the BLS, the number of jobs created is on a steady rise. The future does look bright indeed.
Is This the Right Profession For Me?
Check to make sure your personality meshes well with the requirements of the job. Are you super-friendly and personable? How well do you deal with people? What do you do in the face of challenge? What are your communication skills like?
Having good communication skills is very important in this profession. Your ability to speak and communicate effectively is essential to your career as a dental hygienist. Are you going to be able to make the customer relax and feel comfortable while you explain the dental procedures the he or she is about to undertake? This is why it is recommended that you take courses that will help improve your skills in communication – it will definitely help you improve your job prospects in the very near future.
You must not only be patient and compassionate, but must enjoy teaching too as you will be educating patients on better oral care on a daily basis, so that they may better avoid expensive invasive procedures down the line. Becoming a dental hygienist requires a lot of dedication as well as effort, so be prepared for it.
Duties & Job Description
Dental hygienists are licensed professionals in dental health who are in general, responsible for preventing and treating problems with teeth and gums by giving patients proper dental care advice. Their duties can vary from state to state and they have to follow the licensure rules of their state. Some of the common duties include:
- Checking & cleaning of teeth/Removal of plaque
- Taking X-rays
- Assisting the dentist in oral surgeries
- Taking record of dental histories
About the Programs
The first step is to find a dental hygienist program to enroll in. Find one that fits your career goals, lifestyle, and current situation the best. You can take the fastest route into the work force by attaining an Associate’s degree which will take around 2 years. This is the absolute minimum amount of time you will need to spend in school to get into the field, and can be thought of as the starting point of your career.
Alternatively, if you are looking to widen the scope of your career pathway and make more money, a four year or more dental hygienist program will lead you to a bachelor’s or master’s degree that will allow you to work in the field of research, administration or as a tutor or professor, teaching in an institution. This is optional and totally up to you. So assess your goals and determine which type of qualification best suits you, then visit the American Dental Association’s website to check for dental hygienist programs that are accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Meeting the Prerequisites
For all programs, there will be requisites and criteria for entry that need to be met. The basics prerequisites are English, chemistry and anatomy. Along with this, you will be required to provide your high school transcript. However if you’re aiming at a bachelor’s degree, you will be required to take several other pre-entry dental hygienist courses to be eligible for admission.
Paying for Your Tuition Through Scholarships
Studying to become a dental hygienist can be an expensive affair. However, the payoffs will be worth it once you graduate and start work. For a bachelor’s degree program alone, the costs can start as high as $25,000 depending on which university you enroll in. A two year associate’s degree will set you back a minimum of $5000.
There are other options to upfront payment which will help you with school fees. Scholarships, and grants are a way to either partially or fully pay for your tuition. There are many different financial aids available but in order to apply for one, you’ll need a minimum 3.0 GPA. In addition, most scholarships will require that you complete 1 year in a dental hygiene curriculum, and possibly a submitted statement of your planned career goals. You must also be applying as a full-time student and a United States citizen.
There are only a limited number of scholarships available each year so you’ll need to get your application in early. To find out more about scholarship, visit at http://www.adha.org . If you can reduce your cost to enroll in college, that is great. It means you will start profiting from your career as dental hygienist promptly.
Before you can practice, you will need to take several examinations to become a Registered Dental Hygienist provided by the Commission on National Dental Examinations. These final exams are there to determine how well you understand the subjects of dental hygiene and bio-metrical science. Upon successfully passing your examination, you will be officially licensed to practice in the state you are in.
We hope this resource has given you and overview on how to become a dental hygienist. For further details, please view the other articles on our website.