What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
As part of a dedicated dental care team, dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning patients’ teeth, examining them for signs of gum disease and educating them on how to maintain good dental health. They may also take x-rays of patients’ teeth and apply and maintain sealant and fluoride treatments. In addition to these duties, many dental hygienists are also responsible for keeping track of patients’ records. They are a vital part of any dental care team.
Education and Training for Dental Hygienists in New Jersey
Training to become a dental hygienist involves a significant amount of education. Most programs in New Jersey offer associate’s degrees. These programs tend to consist of at two years of full-time study in which the student is expected to take and pass courses on dentistry, hygiene and other related subjects.
In addition to classroom-based coursework, students enrolled in dental hygiene programs are required to complete a certain number of clinical hours. This provides them with practical work experience and the opportunity to network with people in the field.
It is important for students to enroll in accredited programs in the state of New Jersey, as this is a requirement for licensing.
Certification and Licensing
New dental hygienists must pass certification and licensing requirements after they have finished or are close to successfully finishing their training. Most schools allow students to sit certain exams in their last semester, such as the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination and the Northeast Regional Examination. Students must also successfully pass the NJDH Jurisprudence Examination and be certified in CPR in order to receive their license.
Dental hygienists in New Jersey need to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain their license. Continuing education helps them learn about new technologies and techniques while refreshing their current knowledge of dental practices.
Some dental hygienists may consider going back to school to become dentists themselves after working in the field for a few years. If they choose to do so, there are several excellent institutions available in New Jersey, including the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.
Salary and Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists in New Jersey
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage of dental hygienists in New Jersey is between $73,500 and $93,940. Individual salaries may vary depending on an individual’s location and work experience.
Job growth for dental hygienists on a national level is expected to grow by 33 percent by 2022, which reflects the growing demand for skilled workers who can perform routine and preventative dental care. As New Jersey is a densely populated state, demand for dental hygienists should be higher than in other parts of the country.
Becoming a Dental Hygienist in New Jersey: Moving Forward on a Great Career Path
The training, licensing and further education needed to become a dental hygienist in New Jersey is well worth it. The skills that are acquired during and after their studies make dental hygienists absolutely essential to any dental practice, as they are often the first point of contact with patients. While the pay involved with the role is better than average, most dental hygienists enter into – and stay in – the field because they find the work to be fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a dental hygienist, why not contact some New Jersey schools today for more information?