Dental hygienists play a key role in providing hands-on support for dentists and in caring for a patient’s overall oral health. They perform a wide variety of tasks to help treat patients and promote healthy oral hygiene.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected 10-year growth rate of employment in this field is higher than the average growth rate for all occupations, making this a great time to start a career as a dental hygienist. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in dental hygiene, in this article we’ll list out everything you need to know before you take the next step.
Dental hygienists' roles are largely focused on patient care. Some of the most common duties and responsibilities include:
Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from patients’ teeth
Sterilize dental instruments properly
Apply treatments to prevent tooth decay
Perform other preventative dental care
Conduct patient screening for any tooth decay or oral diseases prior to any dental work
Take dental x-rays and assess for problems
Document and report findings to the dentist
Document patient history and prescribed treatment plans
Recommend care to improve oral health
Educate patients on preventative dental care at home
For those looking to enter the career path of a dental hygienist, a certain level of skills and qualifications are required to give patients the most effective and proper care. In addition to possessing specialized dental knowledge, hygienists must be able to demonstrate skills such as:
Steady and skilled use of hands
Verbal and written communication skills
Excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills
The ability to simplify complex health information for patients’ understanding
The ability to communicate with and care for young and old patients
Exhibit patience and friendliness on a daily basis
Strong attention to detail
Have a deep knowledge of relevant health and safety rules
Acquiring an associate’s degree in dental hygiene is typically required and can take as little as two years to complete. Prospective dental hygienists must enroll in programs at an accredited dental hygienist school.
To be eligible for licensure in most states, students should enroll in a dental program with CODA accreditation. For dental hygienists seeking to further their education or considering a career path revolving around research, teaching, or clinical practice in public dental health programs, a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required.
All states require dental hygienists to obtain licensure to practice; however, specific requirements vary by state. After acquiring licensure, a dental hygienist can begin working in their profession. Employers seeking dental hygienist professionals who are experienced in performing specialized procedures may require at least 3 years of experience.
The average annual salary for dental hygienists ranges anywhere from $49,200 to $115,050 (or $23.65 to $55.31 per hour), depending on the state and level of experience. In 2020, the median wage was $77,090 per year and $37.06 per hour.
If your interests are concentrated around patient care, periodontal practice, and oral health and hygiene, a career in dental hygiene may be the path for you. As dental hygienists are in high demand and the need for them is only projected to grow, now is a good time to start taking steps into entering the field.
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Looking to hire dental hygienists? Copy and paste our ready-to-go job description below and make any necessary revisions to match your business needs.
Are you ready to create a healthier Sierra Canyon Family Dentistry is seeking a full-time, California licensed dental hygienist who is dedicated to providing excellent patient care and maintaining the office’s established hygiene standards. We earn our patients' trust through our respected team and commitment to creating positive experiences. Hence, we are looking for a candidate who enjoys building patient relationships and exhibits a friendly personality.
Salary range for this position is $85,000 - $105,000 per year (plus bonus/commission).
Clean and polish teeth using scaling instruments and a rotating polisher
Administer anesthetic injections
Administer dental prophylaxis and fluoride treatments
Perform intraoral and extraoral examinations for indications of abnormalities
Take and develop dental X-ray films
Assess patient’s health history to determine if treatment is appropriate
Work with dentists to create appropriate treatment plans for patients
Document patient health history and prescribed treatment plans
Maintain accurate record keeping on all dental hygienist related services performed
Appropriately refer patients for further dental hygiene treatment
Build and maintain relationships with patients and staff
Instruct and fully educate patients on proper nutrition and oral hygiene practices
Current Dental Hygienist license for California
A degree or certificate in hygiene from an accredited program
Current CPR certification
Knowledge of dental software/computer literacy
Excellent communication skills and patient-care oriented
2+ years of experience working in a fasted paced practice
Highly motivated with a positive attitude
Exceptional work ethic and genuine passion for the field of dentistry
Must be available to work Monday through Friday, 8am - 4pm.
Medical, dental and vision insurance
Competitive bonus structure
Paid time off
Child care assistance
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