If you have a passion for oral health and helping people, a career as a dental hygienist could be the perfect fit for you. Dental hygienists work alongside dentists to clean teeth, take x-rays, and educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices. In this blog post, we’ll outline the steps to becoming a dental hygienist.
Step 1: Meet the Education Requirements
To become a dental hygienist, you must first complete a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). These programs typically take two years to complete and are normally offered at a Community or Technical College. Upon completion of your Dental Hygienist program you should expect to earn an associate degree. Some programs may also offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene, which can open up additional career opportunities.
During your program, you will take courses in subjects like anatomy, physiology, radiology, and dental materials. You will also receive hands-on training in clinical settings, where you will learn how to clean teeth, take x-rays, and assist with dental procedures.
Step 2: Get Licensed
After completing your dental hygiene program, you must obtain a license to practice in your state. Requirements for licensure vary by state but typically include passing a written and clinical exam. The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the Clinical Board Examination are two exams commonly used for licensure.
Some states also require dental hygienists to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license. Be sure to check the requirements in your state.
Step 3: Consider Certification
While certification is not required to practice as a dental hygienist, it can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers several certifications for dental hygienists, including the Certified Dental Hygienist (CDH) and the Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP).
To become certified, you must meet specific education and experience requirements and pass an exam.
Step 4: Gain Experience
After obtaining your license, you can begin working as a dental hygienist. Many hygienists work in offices, but you may also find opportunities in public health clinics, schools, or hospitals.
Gaining experience in different settings can help you build your skills and advance in your career. You may also consider joining professional organizations like the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, which can provide networking opportunities and access to continuing education.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the median pay for a hygienist is just over 77,ooo annually and their perspective industry growth over the next 10 years is about 9%. This means their should be stable job opportunities and plenty of demand for people with this skill set well into the future.
In conclusion, becoming a dental hygienist requires completing an accredited dental hygiene program, obtaining licensure, and gaining experience in the field. With dedication and hard work, you can build a rewarding career in oral health.
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