5 Step Guide On How To Become A Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists fulfill an important role in the health care field. A dental hygienist is a co-therapist with the dentist mainly focused on keeping the gums healthy. They assist dentists with a variety of tasks and educate patients on proper dental care. People who are considering a career as a dental hygienist should know the following before entering the field.
Step 1: The Right Skill Set
Not everyone is cut out to be a dental hygienist. This particular career path requires acute attention to detail, a personable character, and a calm and inviting demeanor. In order to become a dental hygienist, individuals need to enjoy talking and interacting with people on a daily basis while having a friendly disposition. Some routine tasks of a dental hygienist include removing plaque buildup, taking x-rays for the dentist, and applying cavity prevention treatments to patient’s teeth.
Step 2: Interview Dental Hygienists
When an individual is considering a career in the dental field, it’s important to talk to other dental hygienists to get a good idea of what their career is actually like. Talk to as many dental hygienists as possible and ask them what their daily tasks are, what their working schedule is like, and what the negative aspects of their career are. While on the outside looking in, a dental hygienist career could seem like the perfect fit, but the reality of daily tasks, salary, and necessary personality traits may lead those considering a career in the field to decide it is not a good fit.
Step 3: Picking a Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program at a reputable school is a crucial step to a rewarding career. Students can download the American Dental Association webpage at www.ada.org to get a thorough list of accredited programs in the United States. While still in high school, students considering a dental hygiene should send away for school catalogs and visit campuses before their senior year of high school ends, visit school campuses, and talk to current and past dental hygiene students to get a firsthand account of their experience in the program.
Step 4: Becoming a Licensed Dental Hygienist
After graduating from a dental program, new dental hygienists should get licensed. They then may apply the skills and education necessary to assist customers in a dental environment and take the certification exam in the state they wish to work in. Each state’s exam requires passing both the written and clinical sections and is administered by the Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Although the exam is challenging and can take students a time or two to pass, it is the last step before qualifying to work as a Licenced dental hygienist.
Step 5: Picking the Right Employer
It’s important to pick the right working environment and most importantly, a supportive employer that will mentor the hygienist during his or her first dental hygienist job. Many dental hygienist positions offer flexible schedules, with nearly 50% of dental hygienists working part-time. For those that choose to go back to school or work 20-30 hours a week, the flexibility of working in this field can be ideal. When interviewing for jobs, pay attention to the overall work environment, turnover rate, professionalism, and future opportunities for promotion.
Being a dental hygienist is a great career choice for those who love helping others, having a flexible schedule, and working in a secure environment.