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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Indiana

The dental hygienist is a vital player on the dental health team. Not only are they responsible for the provision of therapeutic and preventive oral health care, but they are also there to give out important educational services as well. The job of a dental hygienist is a well paying and rewarding career in Indiana and states around the nation, too.

Dental Hygienist Requirements

Becoming a Dental Hygienist requires one to earn at least an associate’s degree or higher. The curriculum at the dental school from one which graduates must be rich in dental anatomy and practices and of course a strong concentration on oral hygiene. Dental hygienists with be using a plethora of tools, devices, and machines which means they must have superior dexterity with manual skills in order to flourish when using all of the different tools of the trade.

Is any prior education or training required?

Yes. In order to be able to complete the college degree necessary to become a dental hygienist one must first have a high-school diploma or GED or the equivalent to apply to the college of their choice. Dental hygiene must be offered as a degree at the school one wants to graduate from, although prerequisites to the dental hygiene program may be completed in high school or at other schools where dental hygiene wasn’t offered.

Are dental hygienist required to be certified?

Yes. Certification is another way of saying dental hygienist licensure, and yes, dental hygienists must complete mandatory certification, or licensing, for the state(s) in which they want to work. Each state varies in what it requires, but in general, certification involves passing an a test after completing and accredited dental hygienist training program. This certification proves to employers, researchers, patients, and the medical community at large that this position is taken very seriously, and this is because dental hygienists provide such extensive services to patients. State minimums ensure the quality of care for all patient and certification, or licensure, requirements generally include the following: graduation from a dental hygienist program, passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, passing score on the state board dental hygiene exam, and a passing score on the state’s jurisprudence examination, too. Employers may often ask to see school transcripts and letters of reference from personal and professional resources.

Is continuing education necessary?

Yes. Since the dental hygienist usually performs the majority of the work a patient has done, this professional needs to be extremely current on the latest and best practices in this broad area of dentistry. Being well versed on the most up to date medical and scientific research in the arena of dental hygiene is vital in providing the best level of care.

Dental Hygienist Salary

The salary that a dental hygienist takes home will depend on the area where the hygienist works and the type of business it is. The most recent statistics available from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics were calculated for the year 2012 and display that the median annual salary for dental hygienists in the state of Indiana was $63,390. This means that the average hourly wage was $30.48. The lowest yearly salary sits at around $43,560 with an hourly rate of $20.94. Those in the highest pay bracket were looking at an annual salary of $81,740 or $39.30 an hour. These are just a tad lower than national averages.

Dental Hygienist Job Duties

Dental Hygienists are likely to be spending them most time with patients so the scope of practice is immense. The most common tasks performed include the following: deep cleanings, fluoride administration, deep root cleanings on patients with gum diseases, x-rays and sonic graphs, and detailed instructions, or treatment plants, for patients regarding the proper care of their dental health. Depending on the type of practice, dental hygienists may also play a role in the following tasks: providing anesthetics to patients, preparing fillings, implementing cavity prevention regimens, drawing up labs for diagnostic tests, and polishing dental restorations.

What tasks is a dental hygienist legally allowed to perform?

It depends. Some states allow people with a dental hygienist license to open up their own practices. However, most states allow that reasonable and minimally invasive procedures can be done by dental hygienists as long as a dentist is ultimately overseeing the treatments.

Role of a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists have a crucial part in assisting dentists all day long with a multitude of tasks. This position can be found in a variety of environments like private practices, hospitals, educational ventures, public clinics, as well as areas of research, too. The job of a dental hygienist is currently seen as a stable career and one that is projected to continue to grow in years to come.