Dental hygienists work alongside dentists to provide dental care to patients. They sometimes work with patients before the dentist comes in to perform procedures, and sometimes they are with the patient throughout an appointment. Dental hygienists provide preventative care for patient. They also clean patients' teeth and examine them for signs of oral diseases. They also talk at length with patients, making small talk to put dental patients at ease and educating them on how to improve their oral health.
Daily dental hygienist tasks include:
Removing tartar and plaque from patients' teeth
Applying sealants to protect the teeth of children and adults
Taking dental x-rays
Developing dental x-rays
Updating dental records of patients
Organizing and keeping track of dental records and treatment plans
Teaching patients proper oral hygiene techniques
Aspiring dental hygienists should have a great bedside manner and a good ability to keep calm under pressure. In some states, they may also take on additional duties like placing and carving temporary and permanent fillings.
Dental Hygienist Job Education Requirements
Most dental hygienist positions require that candidates for the job have at least an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Those who have a bachelor's degree will stand out because it is less common. If dental hygienists want to go into fields like research or teaching, they should pursue a master's degree. When it comes to taking care of patients' teeth, a dental hygienist cannot make mistakes on important things. The patient's well-being and oral health depends on the care of the hygienist, who will be holding a variety of medical instruments throughout the day. Therefore, hygienists must be well-trained and meticulous about stellar work. Also, every state requires that dental hygienists become licensed before they are allowed to start work. Sometimes those in dental assistant jobs or other dental jobs go to night school to gain the training necessary to become a dental hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Job Market
There are currently around 192,800 Americans employed as dental hygienists. More than 64,000 new dental hygienist jobs will be created between now and 2022. This impressive 33 percent projected growth means that there will likely be job security for dental hygienists for some time to come. The recent federal health legislation means that the increasing number of patients who are able to see dentists will likely to lead to more jobs for dental hygienists.
Dental Hygienist Job Salary Information
Dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of $70,210 in 2012. The top employees in dental hygienist positions commanded more than $96,000 per year, while the low-end average annual salary is $46,540. The benefits that dental hygienists receive vary greatly from employer to employer. More than 50 percent of dental hygienists worked part-time in 2012.