A dental hygienist is a highly skilled worker that performs minor dental procedures. Hygienists normally work in a dentist’s office. They also help educate patients on proper oral health. This requires a thorough knowledge of subjects like anatomy, physiology, chemistry, mathematics, biology, and periodontics (the study of gum diseases). A dental hygienist cannot open a private dental office unless he or she has earned an associate degree or certificate from a dental hygienist program, preferably accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
A dental hygienist can practice in public health agencies, hospitals, school systems and nursing homes, apart from private clinics. They typically work in collaboration with a dentist and help with keeping records of each patient, taking X-rays, and other technical tasks like cleaning, polishing, and removing deposits from the teeth.
Dental hygienists are also entrusted with teaching dental hygiene programs at elementary and secondary schools, selling dental equipments and supplies, and taking part in health research.
Dental hygienists are in high demand because of their superior dental care services. Last year around 177,520 dental hygienists in the US earned around $32.81per hour. Due to the high demand for dental service, dental hygienist is expected to become one of the fastest growing occupations in the next ten years.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.
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