Most of us have visited a dentist by the time we've reached college. May it be as a kid and it was the question of rotten teeth, as a teenager and the question of wisdom teeth, or as an adult and the onset of cavities. When you visited a dentist, you might have noticed another person along with the nurses and that is the dental hygienist. In collaboration with a dentist, a dental hygienist provides dental care to patients.
A dental hygienist is an important part of the dental care team. He works with a dentist to promote oral hygiene and health among patients, along with preventing the onset of any diseases in them. This is one of the requirements that need him to use his skills to instruct and motivate his patients to maintain oral hygiene and prevent diseases, along with giving them detailed information about the relation of food and oral health.
A dental hygienist's job requires him to undertake the following duties:
- He reviews his patients health history.
- He assesses the oral health condition of patients.
- He maintains and develops dental x-rays (radiographs).
- He applies preventive formulas to the teeth, like fluorides and sealants.
- He removes plaque, tartar, and calculus from the teeth.
- He instructs patients on the importance of maintaining oral hygiene by teaching them the different oral strategies like flossing, brushing etc.
- He makes casts of the patients teeth, to be studied later by the dentist. These are important for evaluating patient treatment needs.
- He advises patients on how to eat and what to eat so that good oral health is maintained.
- He carries out documentation and office management activities.
In order to meet the educational requirements, a dental hygienist is required to complete two years of academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, universities, or dental schools.
After the completion of the two years in college, a student will receive an associate degree. This degree will allow him to give licensure exams of either the national, state, or regional levels and thereby become licensed, as well as work in a dental office.
If a career in teaching or research in this field interests someone, then they are required to pursue a university based course that offers master's and baccalaureate degrees. These will require two years of additional schooling. Some colleges require them to have studied for at least a year in college, while a university will require them to have two years. Similarly, having learned subjects like psychology, health, biology, chemistry, speech, and mathematics will be preferred.
Along with providing students with clinical education (supervised patient care experiences), these courses also provide them the courses in liberal arts like English, psychology, and speech, and basic sciences like anatomy, and chemistry, as well as clinical sciences like dental materials and radiology.
After the dental hygiene program is completed, a hygienist can train further in areas concerning education, basic sciences, and/or public health.
Pediatric Dental Hygienist Requirements
A pediatric dental hygienist will specifically work with children. In that, he will be required to undertake the duties of a regular dental hygienist like cleaning the teeth and educating patients on oral hygiene.
Most of the pediatric dental hygienists work under a private doctor for a good salary. The main requirement to become a pediatric dental hygienist is to undergo a dental hygiene program and acquire a state license to work. For this, they need to pass a test given under the American Dental Association's, National Board Dental Hygiene written examination and pass a state or regional clinical board examination.
If you think you are someone who likes to work with their knowledge as well as hands and is interested in the prevention and onset of diseases, then a dental hygienist's job might just be the perfect one for you.