Much of the daily work performed in a dental office is actually done by the hygienist. He or she has a variety of tasks, all of which require skills that must be gained through advanced training. Many people seeking a career in the oral care field want to know how to become a dental hygienist, and exactly what that job description actually entails.
Every state has its own set of regulations regarding what these technicians may or may not do in the office. Generally, however, their responsibilities are similar. They will talk to patients in order to gather information about oral health history, as well as determining whether there are other important medical issues. Most are allowed to do oral exams in order to discover any obvious teeth or gum problems.
Many also perform neck and head examinations to make sure there are no abnormalities. And, as anyone who visits the dentist regularly will know, they clean teeth. This means removing all the stains, calculus and hard or soft plaque that accumulate over time. In addition to performing cleanings, many are allowed to apply any necessary fluoride or sealants designed to prevent decay.
Some specialize in taking x-rays of the teeth, formulating and taking molds for evaluation or restoration, and instructing patients in good nutrition and daily care. Many states allow them to apply and remove both temporary and permanent fillings, change periodontal dressings, and do the final polishing of certain metal restorations. In addition, he or she may administer certain anesthetics and do diagnostic testing.
If this all sounds technical, it actually is. Becoming a member of the dental office team today means much more than taking a short course. Because tooth-care has become so important, training is lengthy and thorough, and there are stringent qualifications. Having a high school diploma or GED with a minimum ‘C’ average is mandatory, and it helps if you have already passed a college entrance exam.
Other preparation includes taking and passing high school courses in biology, mathematics and chemistry. Often, a professional course of study will give preference to those who have already completed at least a year of regular college. Students will undergo laboratory, classroom, and clinical training. They complete courses in such diverse topics as anatomy, pharmacology, radiography, pathology, and much more.
Before enrolling in a school, it is an excellent idea to arrange a job “ride-along” if possible. Spending actual time with a working hygienist will help you decide if this is really what you want to do. If it is, begin the training process by checking for accredited schools that operate within your state. Find out if there is a long wait for admission, because this is an extremely popular field.
Once you have learned how to become a dental hygienist by completing the required two to four years of advanced classes, it will be necessary to take national and state board exams before becoming employed. This includes a 6-7 hour written exam, a clinical board, and a shorter test administered by computer. Those who pass will be able, after paying a fee, to become licensed. The ultimate reward for those who finish is enjoying an excellent salary in one of the most secure arenas of employment available today.
Looking for how to become a dental hygienist? Visit one of the leading dental hygienist education as well as called dental hygienist programs which is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.
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