Public Health Administration Dental Hygiene Practitioner

Though dental hygiene practitioners may operate in the arena of public health, they rarely enter public health administration without significantly more education and experience, and work in public health dental hygiene administration is rare.

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What is a Dental Hygiene Practitioner?

A dental hygiene practitioner is a mid-level dental health professional responsible for cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, polishing fillings, identifying cavities, and making molds for dental prosthetics. A dental hygienist is not required to have a degree in dentistry, so education time and expense is lower than that of dentists. Dental hygienists normally get an associate's degree at an accredited dental hygiene program. This allows patients to rely on a hygienist rather than a dentist for basic dental care and professional oral hygiene needs.

Dental Hygienists in Public Health

Dental hygienists in the public health care arena may require a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree along with several years of experience in order to practice. While normally dental hygienists must be supervised by a dentist and work in a dentist's office, public health dental hygiene practitioners are licensed to work unsupervised. They perform a dental hygienist's normal services, along with a few others, such as administering local anesthetics and educating patients about oral health.

Public health dental hygiene practitioners often work in settings where they see patients who otherwise might not receive dental care. High schools, colleges and community health facilities are all common practice locations for public health dental hygienists. Dental hygiene in public health is an expanding field, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), dental hygienists' employment is expected to increase by 38% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than average for all occupations.

Public Health Administration and Dental Hygiene

Public health administration and dental hygiene are seldom specifically linked, and while dental hygienists in the public health sphere may have a part in the education of the public on oral health topics, public health dental hygienists are seldom called upon to take a role in public health administration. Often those in dental hygiene-related public health administration hold master's degree or doctorate and have specialized in dental hygiene and public health administration.

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