The maintenance of good oral health is crucial for overall health and well-being. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums requires regular dental care and professional teeth cleaning, and dental hygienists are crucial in providing preventative dental care services to patients. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a dental hygienist, there are several steps you’ll need to take to succeed. Let’s go through some of the top-level steps you need to take to become a dental hygienist.
Educational Requirements for Dental Hygienists
To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from an accredited institution. Most dental hygiene programs take two years to complete and cover subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and oral health. Some programs may also require prerequisite courses like chemistry, biology, and math.
It’s essential to choose an accredited program to ensure that the program meets specific quality standards and that your degree or certificate will be recognized by state licensing boards. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is the organization responsible for accrediting dental hygiene programs in the United States.
Licensing and Certification
Once you’ve completed an accredited dental hygiene program, you’ll need to obtain a license or certification to practice as a dental hygienist. Licensing requirements vary by state but typically involve passing a written and clinical exam. Some states may also require an additional exam on state-specific laws and regulations.
Many dental hygienists choose to become certified in a specific area of dental hygiene, such as anesthesia, general dentistry or periodontics. Certification requires additional education and training beyond what is required for a license but can lead to higher pay and more job opportunities
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for dental hygienists is very positive, with a projected job growth rate of 6% between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental hygienists can work in a variety of settings, including private dental offices, hospitals, and public health clinics. The average annual salary for dental hygienists in the United States is $76,220, with the top 10% earning more than $100,000. Thanks to our industry-leading patient traffic, training, and support, over 25% of Jefferson Dental hygienists make over $135,000 per year.
Several factors can affect salaries, such as geographic location, experience, and type of employer. Generally, dental hygienists who work in urban areas or for larger dental practices tend to earn more than those in rural areas or smaller practices.
Tips for Success
To succeed as a dental hygienist, you’ll need strong communication skills and a desire to help others. Other important qualities include attention to detail, good manual skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. Dental hygienists should also stay up-to-date with the latest dental hygiene techniques and technologies by attending continuing education courses and conferences.
Building strong relationships with patients is key to success in this field. Dental hygienists often spend more time with patients than dentists do, so it’s essential to establish trust with patients. This can lead to better patient outcomes and job satisfaction for the dental hygienist.
Becoming a dental hygienist is a rewarding career choice that offers job security, a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional growth. By completing an accredited dental hygiene program, obtaining a license or certification, and developing the necessary skills and qualities, you can become a successful dental hygienist and make an impact on the oral health of your patients. As a dental hygienist, you’ll play a vital role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums for your patients, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a real difference in their lives.
Take a look at what some of the Dental Hygienists at Jefferson Dental have to say!
Want to hear what it’s like to be a dental hygienist at Jefferson Dental? We’ve asked a few of our team members what they enjoy about their profession as dental hygienists at Jefferson Dental. Here’s what they had to say!
I love having the support the organization has to offer. I get face time with a wide range of providers and get to follow my patients in their journey. I love that JDO invests in technology for proper diagnosis and patient education. It just makes what I do easier.
– Rickie Lindley
I love being treated as a provider, and a leader, and offering the best patient care to all my patients. I don’t have to stress about having poor instruments because JDO provides me with the best technology such as iTero and Overjet to help educate my patients. They give me the full support to offer my patients all the care that they need. I’ve never felt pressured or overwhelmed to do anything that I’m not comfortable with as a provider. All the JDO cares about is their patients’ satisfaction and that’s why I’m here.
– Asma Rammaha
JDO has allowed me to improve professionally and personally. I’m grateful for the growth. Also, JDO was started for one particular reason that stood out to me, and that was human kindness. Regardless of race, religion, financial circumstance, and time constraints, we provide services to everyone wholeheartedly with compassion. We have hours that are flexible for our community. JDO has a strong foundation and I’m extremely thankful to be a part of it.
– Gelvia Morales
What is the difference between a dental hygienist and a dental assistant?
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who provides preventative dental care services to patients, such as cleaning teeth and performing X-rays. A dental assistant, on the other hand, works alongside dentists and hygienists to provide support during dental procedures. Dental assistants may take X-rays, prepare equipment, and assist with administrative tasks.
How long does it take to become a dental hygienist?
Most dental hygiene programs take two years to complete and typically result in an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. There are some programs that may offer master’s degrees, which would take longer to complete.
Is dental hygiene a good career choice?
Dental hygiene is a career that has a positive job outlook and a competitive salary. As the population ages and dental health becomes more of a priority, demand for dental hygienists is expected to increase. Additionally, dental hygienists play a vital role in maintaining oral health and preventing dental problems, making it a rewarding career choice for those interested in helping others.
Want to be a part of the Jefferson Dental Team? Be sure to take a look at our Dental Hygienist Careers Page and join the largest employer of hygienists in Texas!