How to become a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists work alongside dentists. They provide preventative dental care to their clients by promoting good oral hygiene, removing soft and hard deposits from teeth, examining gums, and taking note of any abnormalities, cavities, or diseases that they may see. Depending on which state they work in, dental hygienists can also perform a variety of tasks such as administering local anesthetics, placing and removing periodontal dressings and temporary fillings, and preparing laboratory tests.
Dental Hygienist Education Requirements
You must at least earn an associate’s degree in dental hygiene to practice in a private dental office. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene is required for teaching, research, or practice in public health organizations.
Dental hygienists must be licensed in the state that they practice in. To become licensed, you will need to have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene school, and to have passed an exam administered by the state in which you intend to work.
Job Opportunities for Dental Hygienists
Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 36 percent between 2008 and 2018. This increase is partially due to overall population growth. The median annual wages of dental hygienists were $66,570 in 2008, and the middle 50 percent earned between $55,220 and $78,990. Dental hygienists’ salaries will vary by location and experience.
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.