Dental hygienist training is becoming a greater need as more and more individuals decide to enter the field of dentistry. The hygienist positions in the dental industry are expected to grow exponentially as it follows the ever-increasing rise in demand for better oral care. The rise in popularity for this job position is due mostly to the low stress levels involved, clean environment to work in, and high rate of pay.
In order to become a dental hygienist, there are a variety of paths that one may take. The individual needs to be accepted into an American Dental Association (ADA) accredited university or institution. After being admitted, they then need to graduate from the school with a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree in the dental hygiene.
Throughout the nation, over 200 dental hygienist training schools are ADA accredited. It is a must that the individual seeking admittance into one of these dental schools have graduated high school or received their GED.
To complete the certificate or associate’s dental program, the usual term of length for these two programs are two years. For those individuals looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree toward dental hygiene, the estimated completion time is around four years. It is common for many individuals that have an associate’s degree or certification and enter the bachelor’s program to further their education and careers. If looking to obtain a graduate degree after completing the bachelor’s degree, this program usually lasts about two years.
Some of the general study classes that are involved in dental hygienist training are biology, chemistry, and computer science. An example of the classes involved in an oral hygienist major that one might expect to see follow:
Head and Neck Anatomy
Oral Health Education
Intro to Clinic
Local Anesthesia and Nitrous Oxide
General and Oral Pathology
Patient Management and Geriatrics
Clinical Practice 1
Nutrition and Dentistry
Advanced Clinical Topics
Clinical Practice 2
Practice and Financial Management
Clinical Practice 3
Community Dental Healthcare
Jurisprudence and Ethics
Once the student has completed their dental hygienist training at the accredited ADA institution, they then must pass both a clinical and written board exam administered by the state they wish to practice in. Upon passing both exams, the student is then eligible to be licensed as a hygienist in that state. The board examinations come in five different versions, all varying on the region or state that the test is administered. The price to take both of these exams is between $900-$1000 total.
When the student takes the clinical portion of the board examination, they will normally be required to x-ray teeth and read the exposures, check a patient’s teeth and diagnose problems, and also, if properly qualified, administer local anesthesia to a patient.
If the written portion of the examination is necessary, then it will vary depending on the location administered also. Most states will require a multiple choice computerized test varying in length. There are a few states and regions that add essay-style questionnaires and have the student create an actual plan of care. A computerized or written version of the exam is not required by some states.
For those individuals that do complete the dental assistant training, the skills learned will allow them to excel in their future positions. This article should give those seeking new employment into the dental hygiene program a decent outlook of what to expect. I hope this helps.