The opportunities for dental hygienists have never been better.
The growth rate for the dental hygienist field is much faster than the average growth rate for other occupations. Studies show that the demand for dental hygienists will climb to 20% by 2026, with 21,700 new dental hygienist jobs added in the years to come.
Not only that, training to become a dental hygienist is more flexible than ever, with more options to launch your career. If you're interested in this rapidly growing field, read on to learn more about how to become a dental hygienist.
What are the Duties of a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist's primary focus is the preventative oral healthcare of their patients. In sum, dental hygienists perform various cleanings and inspections to assess the oral health of their patients. Dental hygienist typical duties include:
- Assessing a patient's oral health and educating them on good oral hygiene
- Cleaning patients' teeth by removing plaque, tartar, and stains.
- Performing and developing dental X-rays
- Conducting a preliminary patient exam and assisting the dentist as needed
- Communicating with dentists regarding their dental findings on patients
- Administering local anesthetics to patients before procedures
- Applying fluorides and sealants to a patients' teeth
- Document patients' treatment plans and overall care
What Skills Do Dental Hygienists Need?
Dental hygienists need to have strong interpersonal and decision-making skills. Other essential dental hygienist skills include being detailed, patient, detail-oriented, positive, and flexible. You should also expect to stay on your feet for long hours.
What is the Typical Dental Hygienist's Salary?
The average salary for dental hygienists is around $75,000 annually. Compare that to the $39,000 a year salary for dental assistants!
What Education Does a Dental Hygienist Need?
No matter which state you practice in, you'll need to be licensed to be a dental hygienist. The minimum level of education you'll need to become licensed is an associate's degree. Beyond that, exact state requirements may vary.
Dental hygienist programs are available at technical colleges, universities, community colleges, and dental schools. For those receiving an associate degree, most traditional programs take two years to complete. Once you receive this degree, you can take your licensure exam, and once licensed; you can work in a dental office.
If you want a career in clinical practice in school or public health programs, you will need additional education, such as a baccalaureate and master's degrees.
Getting into a Dental Hygienist Program
What you'll need to start a dental hygienist program will vary depending on your specific school. Most programs prefer that you complete at least one year of college. Some baccalaureate programs require that you complete two years of college before enrollment into their dental hygiene program. Check with your preferred dental degree program for specific requirements.
What to Expect from a Dental Hygienist program?
Most dental hygienist programs include general courses like English, Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology and Pharmacology, and clinical sciences coursework like Dental Hygiene, Radiology, and Dental Materials.
In addition to the coursework you'll take, you'll also need to complete dental clinicals. Dental clinicals are supervised patient care experiences that take place in a traditional medical setting.
Once you finish your dental program, you will need to earn a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. In addition, you'll need to pass the licensure examination for your state. These exams test your skills and knowledge of dental hygiene and related subjects.
After receiving your license, you may use "R.D.H." after your name to signal that your state recognizes you as a Registered Dental Hygienist.
Become a Dental Hygienist with Achieve Test Prep
Using test-out with Achieve Test Prep, you can save money on tuition and books, plus become a dental hygienist faster than ever.
We help you accelerate your dental hygienist degree by prepping you to test-out of many of your prerequisites. Then we will help you find the best local program that accepts the most test-out credits available.
Why Testing-Out is Faster and Cheaper than College
With Achieve Test Prep, you can test-out of some college courses in just four sessions. Compare that to the typical 16 weeks you would spend in the average college course.
Not only that, traditional college courses come with assignments, quizzes, research projects, and term papers. There's also a ton of expensive books you'd have to buy.
Achieve Test Prep offers a different way. With our program, you'll meet just once a week to prepare to pass just one exam. You'll also receive one condensed book free.
With Achieve Test Prep, you can test out using programs like CLEP, DSST, and UExcel, which are accepted as college credits at over 3000 colleges and universities.
The best news? There are no prior requirements to start you on your path to a dental hygienist. Are you ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more.