Dental Care

To Be a Dental Hygienist

Typically, dental hygienists need to have good communication skills, as well as an interest in motivating people to take good care of their oral health.

If you want to become such a person, it is important to review licensing guidelines and schooling requirements established in the state where you plan to work.

Licensing guidelines will also provide information about the types of care that this job position is allowed to provide.

Job Duties

You will work in a team that strives to deliver quality dental care to each patient.

You will usually work closely with the dentist and carry out a number of care functions. This may include educating about good oral hygiene, routine cleanings, X-rays, and applying cavity sealants.

Some hygienists are also asked to perform periodontal exams, as well as other tests that will reveal oral health problems.

Some states also allow dental hygienists to perform more complex functions. This includes administering anesthesia, making dental impressions, filling cavities, applying periodontal dressings, adjusting metal restorations, and suture removal.

As a general rule of thumb, a hygienist is not allowed to make a diagnosis. On the other hand, you will still play a key role in the screening and detection processes. This includes evaluating the patient's history, examining the head and neck, cancer screening, and taking vitals.

It is important to realize that each dental practice is a bit different. Even though the state may certify you to perform advanced functions, you may not always be asked to carry out these procedures. As may be expected, if you are looking for a higher rate of pay, or want to exercise more of your skills, then you will need to look for jobs where you can achieve your goals.

Even though you will most often work side by side with the dentist, you may also be asked to do some paperwork. For example, you may be responsible for adding certain information to the charts as well as make notations on the treatment plan. You may also be asked to work closely with the office manager and other administrative staff members.

Benefits of this Job Position

Many people looking for flexible job hours find that this particular job offers many opportunities. Some dental hygienist only work part time, on weekends, or during the evening hours. Others will occupy positions at two or more dental offices.

Aside from giving you a good bit of freedom in your schedule, working at multiple facilities will always enable you to have better chance of getting a promotion. At the very least, when you work in a number of different practices, you will be able to learn more about how to apply for management positions, as well as other jobs that interest you.

Individuals that enjoy working with people are bound to enjoy this particular career. This is especially important to consider if you love being around children.

When you work as a mouth hygienist, you will have a unique opportunity to make sure that young patients do not grow up with a fear of the dental office. At the same time, you will have a chance to educate them about good hygiene and oral care. Chances are, you will also be able to spend a good bit of time educating young patients about good dietary habits.

Work Settings

Interestingly enough, there are a number of locations where you can work.

Aside from a private dental office, you may also be able to find work in nursing homes, public health clinics, and hospitals.

In some cases, universities and other community institutions also provide certain types of dental care to members.

Regardless of where you choose to work, you will always be part of a team that has a common focus.

Advancement and Career Path

As you develop skill and experience in this field, you may oversee teams of dental hygienists. You may also want to return to school for advanced degrees.

This will enable you to pursue jobs where you can teach others how to be dental hygienists. Under these circumstances, you will usually work in a classroom as opposed to performing work on patients.

Today, there are a number of diverse paths open to hygienists. If you want to learn more about dental hygienist salaries, educational requirements, scholarship, and hygienist schooling, please see the next articles in this series.

We hope that the information you find will provide you with a good basis for determining whether or not you want to start a dental hygienist career.

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