After completing high school you must be thinking about what career you should choose?, if you are planning to enter your professional life as a dental hygienist then you are at the right place to get the answers of all the questions that might have come across in your mind.
To help you in making your career choice, I will tell you about different educational requirements of a dental hygienist and the training requirements of dental hygienist education as well.
But before starting with anything else, I would like to tell you briefly about dental hygienists for you to get a better understanding of this profession.
Dental Hygienists are classified as either licensed or supervised members of the dental team, who are usually trained and licensed to take dental x-rays and provide oral or dental hygiene services and care, they usually work under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
A dental hygienist usually provides dental disease preventive services like cleaning of teeth, informing the patient about the proper method and advantages of brushing and flossing their teeth.
Dental Hygienist Education Requirements
You can easily become a dental hygienist by getting training from your local colleges, dental schools and universities. If you want an admission into a dental hygienist program, then you are required to get a high school diploma and clear the college entrance test.
Before getting enrolled in dental hygienist associate program, students are required to pass different drug tests, update their immunizations, pass the background check and become certified to perform CPR for further dental hygienist training.
Coursework And Curriculum For Dental Hygienist Program
The dental hygienist training and study includes classroom coursework or theory classes, clinical practice and laboratory practice.
Dental hygienist study includes the clinical and theoretical education of different subjects which includes: anatomy, histology, physiology, dental materials, periodontology, microbiology, pharmacology, chemistry, oral pathology, radiography.
How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Dental Hygienist
Usually there are two choices for a person who is aiming to become a successful dental hygienist, either he can go for the associate degree program which takes about two years for completion or he can go for the bachelor’s degree program which usually lasts for four years to complete the education work.
Although both of the career options are good but if a person opts for bachelor’s degree then he’ll get better career opportunities with better jobs and good salary packages.
The bachelor’s degree program for dental hygienists includes more in-patient and clinical work so it helps a lot in gaining experience for working with patients.
If a person has already opted for the basic dental hygienist associate degree program and want to learn more in this field, gain more experience and get more career options, then he can also transfer his educational credit hours that he has gained in associate degree program to the bachelor’s degree program, after further studies of two years, he would be then considered as a bachelor of dental hygiene.
How To Become A Dental Hygienist?
Now that you have made a choice of making your career as a dental hygienist, the first thing that might have come in your mind is what do i need to become a dental hygienist? Don’t you worry I am here to answer this question for you.
1. Complete Your High School Diploma
Let’s take it from the top, at first you need to complete your high school diploma or anything equivalent to it.
To become a dental hygienist, you need to take the courses for chemistry, biology, mathematics, physiology and other similar science subjects.
2. Graduate From A Dental Hygiene Program Recognised By CODA
After completing the high school diploma, immediately find a good institute to complete a degree in dental hygiene, for this you can either choose an associate degree or bachelor’s degree program for dental hygienist.
The process of dental hygienist education and dental hygienist training usually requires a time period of two to four years. However, to be able to get eligible for a dental hygienist licensing exam, graduation from a certified institute is required.
Here’s a quick tip, before getting enrolled in any dental hygienist program, make sure that the institution is recognised by CODA (commission on dental accreditation)
3. Apply For Dental Hygienist License And Clear The Exam For The Licensure
To work as a dental hygienist in any state, just completing the dental hygienist degree is not enough, you have to get its license before you can practice as a dental hygienist.
So, immediately after graduation, apply for dental hygienist licensure to become a certified dental hygienist.
The dental hygienist licensing exam is conducted by American Board of Dental Examination (ADEX). The licensure exam consists of a written exam and a clinical practice exam.
These two licensure exams are referred as the CSCE or computer simulated clinical examination and the PTCE or patient treatment clinical examination.
The CSCE is a type of clinical practice based exam in which with the help of optical images made by computers, radiographs, laboratory data and pictures, your ability to diagnose the dental disease is tested and your ability to plan the treatment procedure according to the disease is evaluated.
While PTCE exam is required to test your clinical skills, in this clinical exam you have to perform mouth tissue management, measurements of tooth pocket depth, removal of calculus and other dental procedures, this exam is taken to evaluate your patient handling skills.
Dental Hygienist Training
The training to become a dental hygienist includes different practical and clinical work in which the students are trained to perform different dental procedures which includes:
- Plaque removal
- Administer the local anesthesia to the patient under supervision of a licensed dentist.
- Clean and polish the teeth to prevent gum disease.
- Develop dental radiographs
- Remove tartar and stains from the teeth of the patient
- Apply antibacterial treatments.
- Make different treatment plans for his patients according to their requirements
- Apply the temporary coating, fluorides and temporary sealants to the teeth of the patient.
- Plan and manage the dental hygiene care for their patients
- Encourage the patient to floss and brush their teeth regularly and give its demonstration too in order to educate the patients about different techniques of oral hygiene.