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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Rhode Island

Dental Hygienist Requirements

Those who want to become a dental hygienist in Rhode Island will need to possess an Associate’s degree in Dental Hygiene. The school conferring the degree must also maintain accreditation by the American Dental Association.

Is any prior education or training required?

There is no particular education or experience that an aspiring dental assistant needs to have prior to embarking on this career path. It is suggested that the person have experience working with the public and providing customer service. Although it is not required, it is advisable to have some experience working or interning in a dental office to learn the basics of working in that atmosphere. It also helps aspiring hygienists determine if they are a good fit for the dental field.

Are dental hygienist required to be certified?

The state of Rhode Island requires that dental hygienists be licensed.

How can a dental hygienist become certified

In order to become licensed, a dental hygienist must meet the applicable qualifications. A person applying for a license must be at least 18 years old, have graduated from a
program for dental hygienists, and have passed the requisite examinations.

The examinations required for licensing include the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the Northeast Regional Board Examination in Dental Hygiene. The latter does not need to be completed prior to receiving a license, however it needs to be completed within 5 years of licensing.

Is continuing education necessary?

Licensed dental hygienists are required to comply with continuing education requirements. Compliance must be shown prior to May 1st of every even numbered year. Therefore, someone who is licensed in 2014 will have to provide proof of compliance by May 1, 2016. If someone receives their license in the middle of a pending compliance period, he or she will be required to complete a prorated number of units.

Satisfying the continuing education requirement requires that the licensee complete 20 hours of education relevant to the practice of dental hygiene. All courses must meet the standards defined by the Rhode Island Dental Hygienists Association. Classes must also be approved by the Board of Examiners in Dentistry.

Dental Hygienist Salary in Rhode Island

The average salary for a dental hygienist working in Rhode Island is approximately $71,000. This amount will vary depending on the exact location where the hygienist works. For example, in Woonsocket, it is common that hygienists make around $79,000 per year. Yet, in Providence, the average salary is roughly $64,000.

Dental Hygienist Job Duties

The dental hygienist’s main place of employment is at a private dental office. A hygienist’s main duty is to assist patients in maintaining proper dental health. Dental hygienists fulfill this duty by teaching patients how to care for their own teeth, and carrying out cavity prevention techniques. Some of the methods used by hygienists to prevent cavities include cleaning and polishing teeth, and applying fluoride treatments. Typically, a hygienist will also be responsible for taking x-rays of the teeth and jaw.

It is common that dental hygienists interact with different staff members throughout the day. They coordinate patient appointment scheduling with secretarial staff. They also assist dentists while certain procedures are performed on a patient. They may also work alongside other hygienists or dental staff for certain types of treatment.

Another aspect of the hygienist’s job is to prepare the dentistry instruments and the examination room. They ensure that tools and equipment are properly sterilized before use. They also clean and sterilize the exam room, lay out the required tools, and bring the patient to the room.

What tasks is a dental hygienist legally allowed to perform?

Those working in this field may perform procedures to remove stains, calculus, and accretions from the surface of patients’ teeth. They may also carry out these procedures on the subgingival level (i.e. under the gums) in what is often referred to as a “deep cleaning.”

These tasks are usual performed under the general supervision of a dentist or dental office. This means that a hygienist may work somewhat independently, but a supervising dentist must be available somewhere on the premises to assist in the case a problem arises or an emergency occurs.