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Dental Hygienists use a variety of personal and clinical skills to motivate and instruct patients on ways to prevent oral disease and to maintain oral health.
Hygienists perform oral health assessment and oral health instruction. They examine head, neck, and oral regions for disease, take and process x-rays, perform other diagnostic tests, remove deposits from teeth, and apply sealants and fluoride to prevent decay.
Dental hygienist may work in periodontic or pediatric dentistry.
Hygienists are usually employed in dental offices and clinics. Flexible scheduling is a distinctive feature of this job. Full-time, part-time, evening, and weekend work is widely available. Dentists frequently hire hygienist to work two or three days a week, so hygienists may hold jobs in more than one dental office.
Depending upon the level of education and experience achieved, dental hygienists can also apply their skills and knowledge to other career activities such as teaching hygiene students in dental schools and dental hygiene education programs.
Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health to general health will continue to spur demand for preventative dental services, which are often provided by dental hygienists.
Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools, or universities. The majority of community college programs take two years to complete, with graduates receiving a diploma, certificate, or associate degree.
An associate degree is sufficient for practice in a private dental office. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is usually required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.
Licensure is required in the state of Connecticut. Prerequisite: Connecticut requires successful graduation from an approved dental hygiene school and passing the National Board Examinations and Regional Clinical Performance Examination.
American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
American Dental Hygienists’ Association
444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 3400
Chicago, IL 60611