Health care professionals who specialize in averting oral health problems and diseases are known as Dental hygienists. Dental hygienists have so many opportunities attached to their education and career now than ever before.
Dental hygienists can now train in person or online, as well as having a work setting that goes far beyond the local clinic where they operate. If you reside in Texas and are interested in joining this rapidly growing profession, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) provides a list of accredited dental schools in Texas.
Specializations of Dental Hygienists:
Dental hygienists specialize in activities like cleaning the teeth, examining gums, and collecting medical history. He/she also has the responsibility of educating patients on oral care.
Duties Of Dental Hygienists
The duties of the Hygienist include:
- Helping the dentist during procedures do tasks like removing sutures and administering anesthesia
- Recording discoveries during cleaning and reporting findings to the dentist
- Taking and developing X-rays of the mouth
- Applying chemicals such as fluoride and sealants
- Using tools such as scrapers and polishers in removing stains, plaque, and tartar
Dental Hygienist vs. Dental Assistant
The two may sound very similar but their positions are distinct and unique. The major role of assistants is to run administrative and maintenance duties in the office although sometimes they take on some of the tasks assigned to hygienists. Daily responsibilities of assistants may include:
- Managing patient billing and payments
- Handing instruments to dentists during dental procedures
- Restocking materials and setting up tools
- Washing and sterilizing dental equipment
- Helping patients sit comfortably on the dental chair
- Keeping records and scheduling appointments
Dental Hygienists Educational Requirements
All states in America require dental hygienists to be licensed before practicing although requirements vary from state to state. The minimally acceptable level of education needed to earn a license in any state is an associate’s degree. Depending on your plans, you can pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Attending a program approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) will help you in becoming a licensed hygienist no matter which degree you choose. Accredited dental hygiene programs have shown that they satisfy the highest standards for education and help ensure best practices that will safeguard patients’ safety in the future.
What You Will Study
By CODA standards, all accredited programs must cover four key areas;
- General education—sociology, psychology. Written and oral communication
- Biomedical sciences—Nutrition, Pharmacology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pathology and Pathophysiology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and immunology
Dental sciences— Dental materials, Pain management, Periodontology, Radiography, Oral pathology, Oral embryology and histology, and Tooth morphology
Dental hygiene science—Legal and ethical principles of dental hygiene practice.
- Provision of services for patients with special needs and blood-borne diseases.
- Clinical dental hygiene, Infection and hazard control, Medical and dental emergencies Community oral health
- Patient management
- Health promotion
- Oral health education and preventive counseling
Dental hygiene science:
Dental hygienist associate’s degree
These degrees take up to two years to complete and are typically earned at technical schools and community colleges. You will complete supervised clinical experience throughout your study along with your coursework covering topics outlined by CODA.
Getting your Dental Hygiene License
After graduating from an accredited program, you will be required to take and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination which comprises 350 multiple-choice questions divided into two parts: case-based and discipline-based components.
Dental hygienists often have the advantage of a flexible schedule along with competitive salaries. According to the BLS predictions, the demand for dental hygienists will increase by 6% through the year 2029.
Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, Texas Dental Hygiene Schools: https://tsbde.texas.gov/licensing/hygienists/texas-dental-hygiene-schools/