Dental Hygiene Career, Training, Qualifications and Advancement

In order to work as a dental hygienist you must have a state license from an accredited dental hygiene school.

Training and Education

In order to get into a dental hygiene program, passing college entrance scores and a high school diploma will almost always be required. A high school student that has interest in becoming hygienist should plan on taking courses within the following subjects while in high school:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Biology

There are going to be some programs in dental hygiene that will require the student to have previously completed a least one college year prior to admission. There will be variance from one school to another school when it comes to specific requirements for entrance.

There were over 300 accredited programs on dental hygiene back in 2008. There will be some obliging programs offer certificate, however, most dental hygiene programs will grant an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and if you choose to go forward even longer master’s degree. At minimum you will need a certificate is a degree to hygiene in order to work in most private dental practices. You’ll need a bachelors or master’s degree are most often needed for research positions, teaching positions, or clinical practice and school or public health programs.

Schools are going to offer instruction in clinical, classroom and laboratory settings and subjects, such as:

  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Radiography
  • Histology
  • Nutrition
  • Periodontology
  • Dental materials
  • Pathology
  • Clinical dental hygiene
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Social sciences

Licensure

A dental hygienist has to be licensed within the state they’re practicing. Almost all states will require the candidate to have graduated from an accredited school in dental hygiene and have passed both a clinical and written exam.

The written examination is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (American Dental Association). This examination is accepted in every state in the nation and the District of Columbia. The clinical examination will be administered by the regional or state testing agencies. Furthermore, most states will require that there be completion of an examination of the dental hygiene practices legal aspects.

The only state that doesn’t require examination by the ADA is Alabama. Rather than the written test candidates must meet the dental hygiene program requirements for Alabama. This mandates three things:

  1. Course taking
  2. Dentist office training on the job
  3. Passing a separate licensing examination administered by the state

Other Qualifications

The dental hygienist needs to be able to work well with others due to the fact that they work very closely with the dental assistants and dentists, along with directly dealing with patients. The hygienist needs very excellent manual dexterity due to the fact that they’re using dental instruments within patient’s mouth, which obviously provides very little room for error.

Advancement

Opportunities for advancement are going to be abundant, and will usually come in work outside of the typical dental office. Additionally, they will usually require the completion of a bachelors or master’s degree in dental hygiene. There will be some dental hygienists that may wish to pursue dental hygiene program teaching position, working with a corporate setting, working within the public health sector.

Significant Points

  • One of the fastest growing occupations is the dental hygienist
  • state license in a degree or certificate from an accredited obliging school are required to be able to work within the field
  • Dental hygienists can enjoy a part-time schedule, and flexible scheduling

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