What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
A dental hygienist has to clean teeth and look for signs of oral disease in the mouth, head and neck. A dental hygienist is also expected to educate patients on oral hygiene. They have to take X-rays and develop them. They also have to apply fluoride and sealants as necessary.Across the United States, this occupation is expected to see an increase of about 33%. That could translate into about 11,350 new job openings each year.
Dental Hygienists Skills and Abilities
In order to be a successful dental hygienist, you should:
- Be knowledgeable about dentistry, customer service, psychology, biology and the English language.
- Speak clearly.
- Listen actively.
- Think critically.
- Be able to choose appropriate, cost effective actions.
- Be service oriented and socially aware.
- Be able to communicate efficiently through speech and writing.
- Have finger dexterity.
These skills and abilities will give you the edge you need to be able to make a good dental hygienist.
Dental Hygienists Duties
As a dental hygienist, you may have a myriad of duties. You might be expected to:
- Clean teeth and gums with dental tools.
- Record new and review patient history.
- Use probes, feel and vision to examine gums and find any signs of gum disease.
- Take X-rays and develop them to get a better look at teeth.
- Keep a record of patient health to have a better diagnostic and treatment tool.
- Ensure dental equipment is well maintained by getting it ready, sterilizing it and sharpening it as necessary.
- Give patients health education to help improve their oral health.
- Apply fluorides and sealants to help slow dental decay.
- Administer local anesthetic when necessary.
- Make impressions for study casts.
- Provide dental health clinics throughout community in order to spread oral health knowledge and supplement the services of dentists.
These are a few things that you would be expected to do in the occupation of dental hygienist.
Dental Hygienists Tools and Technology
Because of the technical aspect of a dental hygienist, there are many tools and technologies that you would be expected to be proficient with:
- Dental Lasers
- Dental Probes
- Dental Scalers and Accessories
- Dental X-Ray Units
- Dental Polishers
- Air/Water Syringes
- Teeth Cleaning Devices
- Accounting Software
- Calendar and Scheduling Software
- Medical SoftwareWith
These tools and technology, the occupation of dental hygienist has become much more efficient.
Education and Training for Dental Hygienists
To become a dental hygienist, you have to get an Associate’s degree. Some institutions may require that you get a Bachelor’s degree. The reason you need to get a college degree is because you will then learn the skills you need to become a successful hygienist. You should take courses like:
- Dental Anatomy
- Pharmacology for Dental Hygiene
- Restorative Lab
- Dental Hygiene
- Pain Management
This education and training ensures that you have the technical knowhow necessary to be a successful dental hygienist.
Dental Hygienists Salary
The average dental hygienist in the United States makes approximately $71,500. Depending on where you live, what sort of education you have and what prior experience you have, you may be in the lower 10% or the upper 10%. The lower 10% makes about $49,200 and the upper 10% makes about $97,400.
Dental Hygienists Jobs by Geography
Geography can be a huge variable in the dental hygienists world. It can affect what you make and the ease with which you get a job. For example, areas like the District of Columbia, California and Washington have a higher average dental hygienist salary than other parts of the country. North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia are expected to see the biggest increase in the availability of dental hygienist jobs. However, California, Texas and Florida have the highest population of dental hygienists. When you start looking at this occupation, you have to think about where you want to live, what sort of institution you want to work for and what type of degree you want to pursue.