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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Montana

A dental hygienist and a dentist work with each other in treating and caring for patients in a dental clinic. The hygienist might also work in other settings for other employers. Regulations differ from state to state as to their responsibilities and the services they are permitted to perform. Montana has its own licensing requirements.

Montana educational requirements
Licensing of dental hygienists is governed by the Montana Board of Dentistry. The candidate is required to have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, and successfully complete the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. The candidate is then required to pass the Montana Clinical Board Examination. Candidates with both two and four year degrees may sit for the exams.

Two-year degree program
Both associate and bachelor degrees in dental hygiene can be earned in Montana. The Associate’s program leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. Academic dental science classes and clinical instruction are combined in the two year associate’s program. Clinical instruction includes dental hygiene therapy, restorative dental procedures and actual clinical training. After the program has been completed, and all required examinations are passed, the dental hygienist becomes licensed to practice. Some employers will require a bachelor’s degree to be employed as a dental hygienist. Many classes in the associate’s program are transferable into the bachelor’s program and can be credited toward a bachelor’s degree.

Four-year degree program
The Bachelor of Science degree in Montana is available to students that have successfully completed an accredited Associate of Applied Science program. Along with other coursework, the candidate is required to take six advanced courses in dental hygiene, and six other courses in health administration or other supporting coursework. All of these classes are available online. The Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science operates to improve the student’s career opportunities and advancement while reaching both personal and professional goals.

The dental hygienist’s duties
Care and treatment given by the dental hygienist are very broad. They’ll take and review a patient’s history, evaluate a patient’s oral health, screen for cancer, inspect the head and neck and take the patient’s vitals. They also take patient x-rays and remove plaque from the teeth. Sealants and fluorides are also applied, and the dental hygienist will also educate patients’ oral hygiene plans to maintain optimal oral health. They will also teach patients about appropriate nutrition and how it affects oral health. The hygienist will also make impressions of patients’ teeth so the dentist might more accurately evaluate the patient’s needs.

Continuing education
All licensed dental hygienists in Montana are required to participate in continuing dental hygiene education. They have to complete 36 hours of this continuing education every 36 months.

Dental hygienist salary in Montana
Dental hygienists are paid well. Their median salary is in excess of $70,000. The lowest paid 10 percent earn in excess of $46,000. The duties of the dental hygienist often depend on where they live. Most hygienists outside of urban areas work with private practitioners. Those in urban areas might work in schools or public health programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for dental hygienists is expected go grow rapidly until 2022. This is partially attributable to the aging of baby boomers.

Aside from clinical abilities, strong communication skills and a good work ethic are qualities that will help somebody in the profession. Some skills are developed or enhanced over the course of practice. A wide range of talent and abilities are intangibles that can extend the reach of the dental hygienist’s profession.