Johnny Carson once said that happiness is the dentist telling you it won't hurt a bit and then catches his hand in the drill. Joke as we may about dentists and their ability to inflict pain on such a concentrated area of our body, we do ultimately feel grateful for the amount of pain they save us from when their job is done right. The study of teeth might not be the most exciting medical career available, but it certainly is one of the most practical. Dentists and their dental hygiene sidekicks not only help us in solving our tooth problems, but they specialize in preventive care, making sure our teeth are healthy and protected. While attending dental school to become a dentist may be challenging, expensive, and time consuming, many people are making the choice to work as a dental hygienist. If you're interested in medicine and want to pursue a career in a field that everyone needs, then earning your Associate's Degree in dental hygiene may be the perfect fit to your career goals, find out what the requirements are below.
People are getting smarter and what this leads to is an increase in consumer awareness regarding the importance of good oral hygiene. This means that as people get smarter, dental hygienists are more in demand. With your Associate's Degree in dental hygiene, you'll be the one connecting smart, healthy individuals with the oral care they need to stay smart and healthy. Dental hygiene degree programs traditionally focus on courses that include several science courses, oral hygiene techniques and technology, and clinical hours that get you actually applying your knowledge with real patients.
There are a variety of careers available to someone with a degree in dental hygiene. They often become clinicians, oral health promoters, consumer advocates, educators, administrators, or researchers. For all of these unique, dynamic career opportunities, a degree in dental hygiene is where it all begins. As a clinician, which is one of the more popular employments for hygienists, you might evaluate patients' dental health history, personally examine patients' teeth and give reports and recommendations to dentists, take x-rays, clean teeth, apply preventive care, advise patients, and deliver anesthesia. All of these tasks are designed to both provide direct care to patients and to assist the dentist in the providing of services to many patients within a practice.
Once patients leave the dentist's office, however, there is little a clinician can do to help them. But if you have a degree as a dental hygienist you can also help the public by helping to promote healthy oral habits as a health promoter or consumer advocate. Beyond the dentist office, there is a looming industry of oral care, and individuals are needed to develop new products by designing and testing them. And individuals are also needed to assess the array of products that already exist. Oral care educators are also required at schools that train upcoming oral hygienists and other fields, and even companies, insurance providers, and government agencies are interested in compensating those knowledgeable individuals who can provide them with the tools, education, and advice needed to fulfill their specific organization's function.
It's uncommon for dentists and dental hygienists to catch their hand in the drill, as Johnny Carson so memorably suggests. It's very common, however, for dental hygienists to save patients a lot of pain when they can apply their skills towards cleaning, advising, and informing individuals about the condition of their teeth. With your Associate's Degree as a dental hygienist, you can take advantage of many different kinds of careers that smart consumers recognize as being very helpful and very necessary to their health. So now is the time to make the most of your opportunity, and let your pearly whites sparkle when you smile in your new career.
- Dental Hygiene
- Chairside Etiquette
- Social Sciences
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Chemistry and Pathology
When looking at which school to attend one of the most important factors is if the school offers an externship as part of your Associates degree training. During this externship you’ll work for a local dentist and receive additional training on-site. Find out if you are paid for this training but more important to find out is where the dental site is located. Make sure it is located close to the school you are attending or to your home. If the facility is 2 hours away then it isn’t practical. Often schools won’t have a lot of clinical sites to choose from.
The dental hygiene industry is expected to continue to grow 30% over the next 10 years. The average salary now is over $65,000 and with 5+ years of experience the top 10% earn as salary of over $95,000 per year. Certain states such as California, Arizona, Texas and Florida have the most dental hygienist positions available.
Be work as a dental hygienist you’ll need to get licensed in the state you want to practice in. It is important that you take an Associate’s degree and graduate from an accredited school by the American Dental Association’s Commission. The school you want to attend should teach you and train you to take the National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination.