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Those fascinated by dentists’ offices and oral care must have thought about a career as a dental hygienist. With its great employment prospects, here’s how the occupation stacks up.
The work of dental hygienists involves preventive oral health with particular focus on dental hygiene. Typical duties of dental hygienists involve cleaning and polishing teeth, examining patients for oral diseases, applying fluorides and dental sealants, as well as taking and developing prescribed x-rays.
They may also educate patients about maintaining oral hygiene, and maintain records of patient care and treatment plans.
Usually, dental hygienists work with dentists and dental assistants at dentists’ offices, with flexible work hours being a prominent feature of this job.
The basic educational requirement for becoming a dental hygienist is an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene, which is a two-year program (this is usually pursued after a general undergraduate degree and after clearing the Dental Admission Test). A four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene or even a master’s degree may be obtained by those wishing to advance their careers.
Besides this, one must obtain a license from the state medical/health licensing board of the state where they work in order to become a registered dental hygienist. Though the licensure requirements vary by state, usually, a two-year degree and clearing a written and a clinical exam are the basic prerequisites.
The salary of a dental hygienist depends on the state where she/he works, as well as on his/ her employer. The median hourly wage for 2010 netted at about $33 per hour. With an estimated job growth rate of 21 percent, employment prospects for this occupation appear quite bright.
So what do you think about becoming a dental hygienist?