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So, You Want to be a Dental Hygienist?

Updated on June 5, 2011
Become a Dental Hygienist
Become a Dental Hygienist | Source

Dental Hygienists perform many of the procedures that are beneficial to good oral health.

These dental health care professionals clean and polish teeth, examine gums, and teach dental patients about proper oral care.

In some states, hygienists administer anesthesia, place fillings and remove sutures (stitches).

If you are interested in a medical career that involves lots of hands-on patient care, a dental hygiene career may be just the thing for you.

Dental Hygiene School

In most programs, prospective hygienists must complete a course of study that is two years long. However, the prerequisite courses you will have to take, will probably add an additional year to your studies.

Entry into dental hygiene training programs is competitive, and as with most health care careers, the prerequisites require you to achieve good grades in math and science courses.

Dental hygiene programs can be found at two-year, public community colleges across the country. The American Dental Association (ADA) maintains a list of accredited programs.

There are also four-year schools that offer the dental hygiene program. Whatever type of career training you decide to pursue, be sure to stick to the ADA list when making your choice.

Certification and/or Licensing

Hygienists must be licensed in order to practice in most states. After a prospective student has finished formal training, or shortly beforehand, there is a state based licensure exam.

There is a written exam, which is administered by the American Dental Association, as well as a clinical exam - the student must pass these exams in order to practice in the state they choose.

After the student passes the examinations, he/she will become a Registered Dental Hygienist, and can use the title “R.D.H.” to show that they are a licensed professional.

Dental Hygienist Salary

Salaries are much higher than the average for hygienists; this is one of the reasons training program admission is competitive.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual salary of a dental hygienist is approximately $67,000.

The lowest hygiene salary is around $45,000 and they top out at around $91,000 - not shabby for a two-year career-training program.

According to the BLS, dental hygienists are in high demand and their job outlook continues to be promising. If you are interested in high paying, high demand career field, you can learn more by visiting the American Dental Association website.


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    • Hypnotherapy-Guru profile image

      Hypnotherapy-Guru 6 years ago from Idaho

      Great article! Thanks.