The job of a dental hygenist, or sometimes referred to as oral hygienist, is to make one’s teeth as clean as possible by removing hard and soft remnants of food particles to prevent the onset of oral abnormalities. Part of one’s responsibility as dental hygenist is to inform and teach patients the importance of good oral hygiene.
Oral hygienists use a number of dental materials and instruments to successfully accomplish their job. Such materials and instruments include, but are not limited to, the following: dental scaler, dental mirror, explorer, x-ray machine, suction, ultrasonic instrument, fluoride, and burs. Except for the x-ray machine, all these dental instruments are used to remove stains, tartar and plaque. X-ray machines are used to take teeth images in order to evaluate their health conditions, whether or not they have some cavities or other issues that would need immediate treatment. With these, you can have an idea on how a dental hygenist work whether you plan to visit one or to be one.
In some states, dental or oral hygienists are allowed to perform other tasks such as administering anesthetics while in some states, they are allowed to remove dental sutures, place tooth fillings, and carve fillings. In some cases, hygienists make diagnosis and sometimes assist dentists by preparing laboratory diagnostic tests which will be interpreted by dentists later.
Just like any other health professional, the dental hygenist works in clean and well-lighted environment. This dental professional adheres to proper procedures especially when performing x-ray and when administering anesthetic gas. Gloves, safety glasses, and surgical masks are also common instruments that can be found in the offices of dental or oral hygienists.
The oral hygienists’ working schedule is flexible. They can work as full-timer or part-timer and they usually work in the evening and weekend schedules. Dentists commonly hire hygienists to work for them for only for two to three days a week; hence, it is very normal for any dental hygenist to work with more than one dentist.
When one is considering to pursue a dental profession as a dental hygenist, then one can join any of those accredited dental hygenist schools to get the required training. After the training, one is required to obtain a state license in order to get the first job.
For high school students who want to become dental hygenists, they should take up a course in biology, chemistry and mathematics. Some institutions usually require a high school diploma and a college entrance examination passing score to be admitted to their dental hygenist program. Some dental or oral hygienist programs will grant an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or certification. If one is interested in teaching, researching or working in public and school dental hygiene programs, then a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required.
The dental hygenist salary rate depends on the skills, experience, educational background, employer and the location of the office. Just like any other job, the rate of the salary often increases with experience. Dental hygienists are receiving an annual average salary of $64,000. The lowest paid hygienists are receiving an hourly rate of $21 while the highest paid ones are receiving an hourly rate of $42.
Pursuing a career as dental hygenist is easy because there are programs that come at a very affordable price. One can join any of these programs to direct one’s career path to becoming a good dental or oral hygienist.