What Does A Dental Hygienist Do?
"I am interested in becoming a dental hygienist, mostly because I have heard it is really good money and I only need to get an associate’s degree in order to get into the field. I looked it up in the BLS and saw that there are going to be 60,000 or more new openings over the next few years. I am all set to graduate from high school at the end of this next year, so that means I will need to pick out a college and a program and plan for my future. What would my responsibilities be if I became a dental hygienist? How do I know if this is the right job for me?"
asked by Wendy from Manassas, VA
Think back to the last time you went to the dentist’s office for an appointment. Remember that person who did most of the work on your teeth before the dentist came in to talk to you? Odds are, you saw far more of your dental hygienist than you did of your dentist while you were there, unless you needed a particularly complex procedure done. That should give you some idea of what a dental hygienist does. Some of the duties of a hygienist include:
- Screening patients to assess their oral health and look for conditions that may require intervention.
- Taking x-rays of patients’ mouths and developing those x-rays.
- Making impressions of teeth for casts.
- Removing plaque from the teeth.
- Providing fluoride treatments and sealants to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.
- Cleaning teeth by brushing and flossing for patients.
- Providing patients with suggestions regarding diet as well as dental hygiene procedures.
- Routine office work involving documentation and recordkeeping.
If you are interested in dentistry, looking for a great salary, and enjoy working with people, dental hygienist may be a perfect career for you.
This is a job where you have a chance to help patients to enjoy healthier and happier lives.
Patients who come to the dentist’s office are often not particularly excited to be there, but you can make their visit a more relaxing and pleasant experience by doing your job well and being polite and friendly. This can really make a positive difference in a person’s day.
Another reason to consider a career as a dental hygienist is the hours. Many of these job openings are part time, though full time opportunities are also available.
If you want to work part time, you will find few other careers with this many job openings and this much flexibility. If you want to work evenings or weekends, you can do so.
If you prefer more typical hours, those are available too. If you need to change your schedule, odds are you will find a lot more adaptability in this field than you would in another. This is great for someone who is balancing work with other obligations and responsibilities. Even with part time hours, you still can make a comfortable living wage.