Find out how long it takes to become a dental hygienist. Explore dental hygienist education requirements, licensing information, and continuing education options.
Dental hygienists collaborate with dentists to ensure that dental patients have good oral hygiene.
They may clean the patient’s teeth regularly while also assisting the dentist with other preventative and evaluative dental procedures.
Understanding the educational and training requirements for becoming an hygienist can assist you in determining whether this is the right career for you.
In this article, we will look at the expected responsibilities of an hygienist as well as the individual requirements needed to become one.
What is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a practitioner who performs dental cleanings and examines patients’ mouths for indications of oral health issues.
In addition, dental hygienists perform x-rays, give anesthetic, scale and plane teeth, and advise patients on proper oral care. Extra duties frequently consist of:
- Cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth to remove plaque
- Reviewing and updating the dental history of every patient
- Checking patients for tooth issues or pain so the dentist can be notified
Dentistry hygienists can find employment in a hospital, health clinic, community center, or school environment, while the majority of them work in private or community dentistry offices.
A dental hygienist’s training and credentials may determine whether or not she decides to instruct or teach new students.
In the dentistry field, certain dental hygienists could also choose to specialize in a particular area. Among the most popular specializations for dental hygienists are the following:
Studying dental hygienists
To gain a deeper understanding of prevalent dental illnesses and disorders, a dental hygienist researcher conducts studies and analyzes data. A master’s degree is normally required for those who want to work as dental hygienist researchers.
Teacher of Dental Hygienist
To instruct and prepare future dental hygienists, dental hygienist t eachers draw on their expertise in the field and industry. Teaching at the community college level often takes a bachelor’s degree, while teaching at the bachelor’s or master’s degree levels calls for a master’s degree.
Public Health Advocate
An advocate for public health who has experience in dental hygiene concentrates on promoting and instructing the public in good oral hygiene practices. Public health advocates may be employed in educational institutions or high-risk neighborhoods.
Dental Hygienist for Children
Children and teenagers are the target clientele of a pediatric dental hygienist. In addition to doing all dental hygiene tasks, they advise and educate parents and teenagers on maintaining good oral health.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
It will typically take between two and four years to become a dental hygienist, depending on the level of education in the industry you pursue.
To work as one, you will need to be licensed with your state and with the American Dental Association. Students who pursue an associate degree will typically complete all requirements within two years.
Individuals who want to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree will typically take up to an additional four to six years.
It is important to note that a dental hygienist who wants to pursue higher education can work while they do so, as long as they have completed a minimum of an associate degree and completed the board exam.
Aspiring dental hygienists will need to complete certain educational and training requirements, including:
Complete a High School Diploma or Equivalent
You need a high school diploma to apply to an associate or bachelor’s degree program. Coursework in biology, anatomy, physiology, and other science specializations can help prepare you for a dental program.
Choose an Accredited Dental Hygienist School and Complete an Associate Degree
While there are many dental hygienist programs to choose from, you want to choose one that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
The completion of all educational requirements in this program will typically take between two and four years. Students can expect to take coursework in anatomy, physiology, immunology, and pathology.
Toward the end of the program, students will be expected to complete on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a licensed hygienist.
Complete a Bachelor’s Degree (optional)
Some hygienists may choose to pursue employment after completing an associate degree.
Others may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Some aspiring ones may even go on to achieve a master’s degree to work in a research or educational manner.
Obtain National and State Licensing
Licensure with your state and the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is required to work as a dental hygienist.
The test is made up of two parts with a total of 350 multiple-choice questions. You need a score of at least 75 to pass.
State tests vary depending on the state in which you work. The state will give you a Registered Dental Hygienist license if you complete both exams successfully.
The phygienists assist patients in maintaining their teeth and improving their smiles. They typically work in private dental offices, and free or community clinics also employ them.