Prerequisites for Dental Hygiene Careers
Dental hygienists provide preventive dental care for patients, including cleaning patients' teeth with stainless steel tools and powered brushes. Aspiring dental hygienists must complete an education program offered by an accredited institution, generally earning an associate's degree or certificate in the process. All dental hygienists must be licensed.
Dental Hygiene Career Prerequisites
Graduating from high school is the first prerequisite for those who wish to become dental hygiene professionals. High school students interested in studying dental hygiene might choose to enroll in classes like biology, mathematics and chemistry. Generally, admittance to a dental hygiene program requires a favorable grade point average and good scores on standardized college entrance exams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some schools may require prospective candidates to have finished a year of college before applying to a dental hygiene program (www.bls.gov).
Dental Hygiene Program
Aspiring dental hygienists must complete a dental hygiene program, and most states require that that program be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The BLS notes that graduates generally earn a certificate or associate's degree in dental hygiene.
Dental hygiene programs usually are two years in length and combine classroom instruction with clinical work in laboratories. Coursework may cover dental anatomy, periodontolgy and radiography. While participating in clinical labs, student typically learn to remove plaque, apply cavity sealants, process x-rays and teach patients proper oral hygiene.
Dental hygiene professionals who wish to advance in their careers may enroll in bachelor's or master's degree programs with the goal of becoming office managers, teachers or researchers. With additional education, hygienists may become fully licensed dentists.
After their education is complete, dental hygienists must be licensed to practice. Although requirements vary from state to state, all states but one accept the written exam administered by the American Dental Association's Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Each state also administers a clinical exam. These tests typically are taken during the final year of study within a dental hygiene program.
Dental hygienists deal with patients and therefore should be good listeners and communicators, in order to accurately assess a patient's dental condition. Additionally, solid manual dexterity and coordination is necessary to treat a patient's teeth.
Salary and Career Outlook for Dental Hygienists
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the fast-growing dental hygienist profession should experience a 38% growth rate between 2010 and 2020. In 2012, the BLS listed an average salary of $70,700 a year for dental hygienists, with California, Nevada and Washington listed as the highest-paying states.
Related to Hygiene Classes
- Recently Updated
Aspiring dental hygienists may use the following article for information on how to get into dental hygiene school. There are a...
Dental hygiene plays an important role in keeping teeth and gums healthy. In today's health-conscious environment, skilled...
A dental hygienist provides dental care for patients by informing them about proper dental hygiene and performing tasks such as...
Dental hygienists work for dental offices, research facilities and government-sponsored programs. These professionals must meet...
- Dental Hygiene Continuing Education Options
- Bachelor's Degree in Dental Hygiene: Program Info
- Dental Tech Hygiene: Overview of Adult School Programs
- Master Certified Internet Webmaster in Design: Job Info & Requirements
- Telecommunications License and Credential Information
- Veterinary Epidemiologist: Job Description, Duties, Outlook and Salary
- Nursing Home Lawyer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements