Dental Hygienists provide educational, clinical, medical, research, administrative and therapeutic services on oral healthcare. They diagnose the patients’ oral tissues and overall health to determine the disease or other issues such as risk factors and offer preventive services. They also educate the patients on oral hygiene and preventive oral care. They generally work under the supervision of licensed Dentists. The Dental Hygienists get employment at dental clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
- Earn an Undergraduate Degree: Dental Hygienists usually hold an Associate’s Degree. The two-year Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene programs can be availed at community colleges, vocational institutes or dental schools. The major courses in this degree program include oral pathology, dental science, radiology, pain management, periodontics, community dental health and pharmacology.
- Licensing: All states in the United States require Dental Hygienists to hold licenses. The Associate’s Degree, school transcripts and/or letters of recommendation are needed to qualify to sit in the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA), which has the final authority to grant the license.
- Career Advancement: A higher degree in Bachelor’s or Master’s will help the Dental Hygienists get further growth in their career. That might assist them go beyond the dental office and get a job in research and teaching.
Salary & Job Outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a Dental Hygienist was $71,110 per year in 2013. The job outlook remains bright for this profession, as it is projected to grow at 33% during the period 2012-22.