Everyone knows dentistry is a rewarding career; however, not everyone is aware of the ancillary vocations that have grown in popularity in recent years. Oral healthcare is handled by dental hygienists, who have been in high demand in recent years. This profession has grown in popularity as more individuals have begun to value their overall health, which includes oral wellness. In the next years, the Indian market will be dominated by dental hygienists who provide oral care under the supervision of a dentist. This is already a rich profession in Western countries, and it is gradually spreading its wings to other areas of the globe. Let’s look at everything there is to know about this field. The dental hygienist is generally the first person you see when you visit the dentist. In the same way that institutions have doctors and nurses, dental practices have dentists and dental hygienists. Knowing what each individual does will make you feel more at ease at your next session. We examine the differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist, as well as what you may anticipate from each.
Table of Contents
1. What Is the Role of a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of oral illnesses. Dental hygienists operate independently for the most part, with just limited supervision from a certified dentist. Dental hygienists play a crucial role in dentist-led teams. Their labor relieves the dentist of a significant burden, allowing him or her to focus on more advanced operations. As a result, numerous preventive dental treatments, such as teeth cleaning, oral disease examinations, and other preventative dental care, are commonly performed by dental hygienists in offices. Patients are also educated on how to enhance and maintain good dental health.
2. What Is the Role of a Dental Hygienist?
One of the most significant distinctions between a dentist and a dental hygienist is the purpose of their work. When you have an issue with your teeth, such as gum disease or a cavity that has to be treated, you only spend a reasonable amount of time with your dentist. A hygienist, on the other hand, is there to provide preventative treatment and assist you in avoiding major problems. During a typical session, they are usually in charge of cleaning your teeth. The tartar and plaque on your teeth will be scraped off and polished by your hygienist. Hygienists also take X-rays of your teeth and gums, offer fluoride rinses to patients, and place sealants on teeth to prevent cavities. Your hygienist will also go over how to take care of your teeth and overall health at home, including how to brush and floss properly, as well as what foods to avoid or eat for a healthy mouth.
3. Skills You Need to Be a Dental Hygienist
You’ll need to communicate with patients in order to treat them. Take patient histories, talk to them about their dental hygiene practices and routines, and clarify what you’re doing throughout treatments. This task would be difficult for you if you have difficulty communicating or are insecure.
Paying Close Attention
Another important talent for dental hygienists is attention to detail. You will need to pay close attention to what you and the dentist are doing in order to complete treatments. You must be able to concentrate on small aspects of a patient’s teeth or gums.
When working as a dental hygienist, you will come across people who are terrified of the dentist. You’ll have to console patients who are crying in the dental chair because they are scared of dentists, and you’ll need to be empathetic to do so.
Each patient is unique. You’ll face different problems with each patient, and you’ll need to be a good problem solver to deal with them. If you have fearful patients, for example, you’ll need to figure out how to calm them down while still completing their treatments.
Dexterity in the Hands
Working as a dental hygienist entails using sharp instruments inside patients’ mouths. To conduct treatments safely, you must have excellent control of your hands.
Performing First Dental Examinations
Completing first dental exams is one of the difficult skills required to become a dental hygiene practitioner. Patients’ mouths will be examined first, and then the dentist will perform the necessary treatments.
Teeth Deposition Removal
Cleaning the teeth of patients is an important aspect of a dental hygienist’s profession. Dental hygienists remove tartar, plaque, and food debris from patients’ teeth with special tools. They also clean behind the gum line to help prevent gum disease.
Putting Fluoride Treatments in Place
Fluoride is a mineral that aids in cavity prevention. Fluoride treatments are administered in the dentist’s office to maintain patients’ teeth healthy. You’ll need to know how to administer fluoride treatments in a professional setting.
Taking X-Rays is Number Nine on the List
You will be capable of taking x-rays of patients as a dental hygienist. You’ll need to understand how to use x-rays appropriately because they use radiation. You’ll also need instructions on how to set the x-ray machine for the best results. Assisting with Restorative Procedures is number ten on the list. Dentists may enlist the help of hygiene professionals for restorative procedures. Fillings, root canals, and crowns are all examples of restorative dentistry. To be a useful dental assistant, you’ll need to learn how these treatments are carried out.
4. Ways to Become a Dental Hygienist
Associate Degree Programs
Associate degree programs need to be monitored for practical training in addition to general oral health courses. This coursework requires eight to twelve hours of hands-on practice per week, increasing to 12 to 16 hours during the second year of the program.
A bachelor’s degree program’s length is determined by the type of school. The overall time frame can be reduced if applicants begin the program having an associate degree. In comparison to a two-year curriculum, this program concentrates on more in-depth topics. It’s for dental hygienists who wish to learn more about specialized treatment. Dental health theory and research, as well as dental problems, are some of the topics included in four-year programs. These programs may also provide liberal arts education as well as supervised clinical experience.
Dental hygienists who desire to do research, teach, or work in administration should pursue a master’s degree. The duration of these programs is usually one to two years. To get their degree, students must submit a capstone project.
Each degree is demanding and necessitates a significant amount of effort and study time. The length of study time required will be determined by the student’s ability to remember knowledge and information. The amount of time spent in class varies based on the program and school.
5. Is Dental Hygienist a Good Career Path?
Of course, it is! It is one of the most easy-going and rewarding career paths in the dental industry. Here are some of the best reasons that you should consider this career.
- Take Advantage of a Work Schedule That Is Flexible
As a dental hygienist, you can likely find any type of work pattern you desire. Dental hygienists can work full-time or part-time, and many of them only work a few days per week. You may also work in a floating role, where you rotate between several workplaces during the week. You may typically tailor your schedule to match your particular demands and maintain a healthy work-life balance in this field.
2. Earn a Salary That Is Competitive
What does a dental hygienist earn? This is one of the most often asked questions regarding any career you’re contemplating. Fortunately for you, dental hygienists typically earn more than health technologists and technicians on average. In reality, the median dental hygienist wage in the United States is $74,820 per year or about $36 per hour. The national median provides you a good sense of the competitive pay dental hygienists can make. Your actual compensation will depend on elements like where you live and how much experience you have, but the national median gives you a good idea of the competitive salary dental hygienists can earn.
3. Pursue a Role That Is In-Demand
The need for dental hygienists is rapidly increasing. Increased dental care is required as the population ages, and people keep more of their natural teeth than previous generations. Demand for dental treatments is also being driven by a greater understanding of the benefits of preventative dental care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for dental hygienists will be particularly strong in rural areas where dental care is scarce.
4. Make the Transition from Student to Professional as Quickly as Possible
A dentist requires years of training and numerous degrees, but a dental hygienist typically only needs an associate’s degree. Many dental hygienist associate programs take less than two years to finish. Investing in your education and getting a dental hygienist degree could pay off soon, given the attractive salary in this sector.
5. Work in a Fun and Relaxed Environment
Dentists aim to provide a relaxing and welcoming environment for their patients. These efforts usually result in dental offices being pleasant and fun places to work. Working as a dental hygienist in this type of setting allows you to deal with people of all ages and backgrounds on a daily basis, easing their worries and ensuring that their visits go successfully. You can even develop relationships with your repeat patients over time.
6. Assist Others in Bettering Their Health
Oral hygiene is important for more than just a pleasant smile. Poor dental health, according to the Mayo Clinic7, can lead to major diseases and other problems with your general health, such as cardiovascular disease, pregnancy troubles, and more.
So, if you are really considering a career in this profession, you are sure to thrive and succeed.