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How To Become A Certified Dental Hygienist

With lucrative job growth, relatively quick training and gaining a profession that is both prestigious and licensed, becoming a certified dental hygienist is an excellent career choice. To become a dental hygienist, like any profession, will require certain considerations. It is crucial for hygienists to possess a favorable combination of consumer-friendly personality, dexterity, stamina, and the desire for professional development.

Becoming a certified dental hygienist means successfully completing requisite education, passing a credentialing exam, and gaining many skills directly through work experience, however, that’s not all. To experience a successful hygienist career, professionals must also embrace critical-thinking, demonstrate good decision-making and also have the ability to adequately navigate dental computer software like billing, charting and be able to perform miscellaneous administrative tasks, on occasion too.

Personality and profession
Professional personality traits are sometimes overlooked and go unrecognized until the lack of trait adversely affects a professional. When it comes down to it, certified dental hygienists must be able to balance in-depth dental knowledge with even better communication and people skills. Having aptitude, good personal hygiene and being self-motivated is important, however having the ability to understand patients and anticipate their needs is crucial. Since patients of all ages experience, appreciate and fear different elements of a dental visit, being receptive to nonverbal cues and understanding different communication styles is very necessary in order to provide patients with an acceptable experience. Having a high level of patients and pleasant, professional mannerisms is key.

Physical requirements
Dental hygienists have many physical requirements in their position. Not only do they use their hands to control tools and perform repetitive motion for long periods of time, they also need to bend, twist and sit for even longer. Hygienists must have great vision, have strong arm endurance for maintaining a position for great lengths of time and also have good reflex and reaction skills in the event mechanical adjustments must be made quickly. Observing differences between shades and colors is important in dentistry, in addition to depth-perception, in order to effectively be able to determine distance. Finally, stomach and back muscles need to be strong so that the body is supported and able to maintain balance adequately, while performing hygienist activities.

Education requirements for Certified Dental Hygienists
To become a certified dental hygienist, professionals will obtain a two-year, associate-level education and corresponding hygienist certificate upon passing state regulated licensing requirements. Registered Dental Hygienists, R.D.H., are licensed similarly to physical therapists and dietitians and must meet a minimum standard of qualifications to practice. Licensing protects patients and makes certain that qualified hygienists are safely treating them. Hygienists must renew their license every two years. While state requirements vary somewhat, in general, certified hygienists must pass an accredited dental hygiene program, successfully pass a written National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, and pass a state clinical board examination as well.

Experience and Employment
Complete hygienist training encompasses experience through dynamic employment. Hygienists specialize in preventative dental care, examine patient’s teeth and gums to check for decay and disease, perform teeth cleaning, apply fluoride, take x-rays and educate patients daily. Once these skills have been mastered, certified hygienists often consider advanced degrees which facilitate career advancement, higher compensation and the credentialing to perform broader duties. Advanced credentials allow dental hygienists to work independently in public settings like school systems and as administrative professionals for public health. Ultimately, an Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner is allowed to provide preventive, diagnostic and restorative services directly to the public.

Why being a hygienist is great
Becoming a certified dental hygienist is great because it allows professionals to make a difference in the lives of their patients. Many hygienists say that the best part about their career is working with an excellent team and being able to make great money through enjoyable, routine work. Moreover, many hygienists work part time, and sometimes at multiple practices which promote a strongly dynamic work environment. The employment outlook for certified dental hygienists is strong and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to report growth for this fine occupation. Dental Hygienists earn an attractive median salary of just under $70,000 or roughly, $33 per hour.

Becoming a certified dental hygienist is worthwhile for many. Both a profitable and rewarding career, certified dental hygienists enjoy helping others and thriving in a fast-paced dental environment. Working under the supervision of a licensed dentist means gaining experience that includes intricate skills like using x-ray machines, teeth cleaning devices, dental tools and really cool lasers and probes too. Hygienists, once certified, are knowledgeable about oral pathology, radiology, materials used in dental work, pain management, pharmacology and even infection control. Those with natural interpersonal skills and compassionate individuals alike will find the qualifications of becoming a certified dental hygienist easily attainable.