Hello, fellow residents of our Lone Star State! Have you been checking your horoscope, hoping for some signs of a bright future? Perhaps you’ve wished upon a star for a great career. By obtaining an education at a dental hygienist school, you’ll join the ranks of other stars in this highly regarded profession.
Texas dental hygienists work in a wide variety of settings, from private practice to marketing companies. They enjoy meaningful employment and competitive salaries. The job outlook for dental hygienists is very promising, with dentists delegating many of their responsibilities. This article will chart your course to a shining destiny as a dental hygienist.
STAR QUALITIES OF A SUCCESSFUL DENTAL HYGIENIST
* strong interpersonal skills
* scientific ability
* manual dexterity
* good eye-hand coordination
* desire to help others
If you have the above attributes, you’re well on your way!
DENTAL HYGIENIST JOB PROFILE
The scope of what you’ll do as a dental hygienist is comprehensive and thrilling! You will:
- Record patient vital signs
- Take and read oral x-rays
- Perform prophylaxis – clean teeth and gums
- Screen for oral cancer
- Apply cavity-preventing fluorides and sealants
- Teach patients home care
- Make impressions of teeth for study models
- Maintain dental equipment and supplies
Dental hygienists have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings, including private dental offices, clinics, marketing companies, hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmaceutical companies. You can specialize in treating pediatric, geriatric, and special needs patients. You have your choice of part-time, full-time, evening, and weekend positions.
To work as a dental hygienist in Texas, you will need to complete an accredited program. A school that is accredited has achieved high standards set by a governing agency. Accreditation assures you and a prospective employer of preparation for employment through a quality education.
There are 22 accredited dental hygienist programs in Texas. All offer the associate’s degree required for licensure. Some also confer bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prerequisites for enrollment vary among schools. Below is a list of general requirements:
- High School Diploma or GED Certificate
- Course Prerequisites of Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Chemistry
- Texas Success Initiative (TSI), SAT, ACT, or TAAS Scores
- Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT) Score
DENTAL HYGIENIST SCHOOLS IN TEXAS
Rather than listing all 22 accredited schools, below is a selection of 17 schools, a mix of community colleges, private schools, and universities.
Coleman College for Health Sciences – Houston Community College System – Houston
Collin County Community College – McKinney
Concorde Career College – San Antonio
Del Mar College – Corpus Christi
El Paso Community College – El Paso
Lone Star College – Kingwood
Lamar Institute of Technology – Beaumont
Midwestern State University – Wichita Falls
Northeast Texas Community College – Mt. Pleasant
PIMA Medical Institute – Houston
Sanford-Brown College – Dallas
Tarrant County College – Hurst
Temple College – Temple
Texas State Technical College – Harlingen
Texas Woman’s University – Denton
Tyler Junior College – Tyler
Wharton County Junior College – Wharton
- High School Transcripts
- Proof of Course and Testing Prerequisites
- CPR Certification
- Observation Verification Form
- Evaluation Form by a dental professional, teacher, employer, or supervisor
- Proof of Immunization – Varicella, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), Hepatitis B
- Drug Testing
- Criminal Background Check
- School Application
Course titles and descriptions differ among accredited schools. However, basic education is the same. Here are a few of the fascinating courses you’ll take:
- dental radiology
- oral pathology
- dental materials
- nutrition in dentistry
- preventive dental care
Tuition varies among schools according to district, your residence status (in-state and out-of-state), and type of degree conferred. Average community college tuition is $2,000 in-district, $3,000 in-state, and $4,000 out-of-state. Average private college tuition is $3,000 in-district, $4,000 in-state, and $5,000 out-of-state. University tuition averages $7,000 in-state and $17,000 out-of-state.
Degree programs are offered by all accredited community colleges, private schools, and universities. Each type of school has its own advantages. Below is a summary:
- least expensive
- smaller class size – more personal attention and interaction with faculty
- more suited to commuters
Private Schools and Universities
- 4-year degree programs – better job prospects
- more selective in students accepted, according to completed coursework, high school GPA, and SAT and ACT scores
- more extensive admission requirements, such as letters of recommendation and admission essays
- may offer continuing education, which is required for license renewal
Keep the above differences in mind when considering schools and tuition cost.
In order to be licensed in Texas, you’ll need to:
- Graduate from an accredited Dental Hygienist Program with at least an AAS Degree
- Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam
- Pass one of the four Regional Examining Board Dental Hygienist Exams: the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB), Northeast Regional Board (NRB), Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS), or the Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
- Pass the Texas SBDE Jurisprudence Assessment, which tests knowledge of state practice laws and rules
- Be CPR Certified
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship
In order to maintain licensure in Texas, you will need to obtain at least 12 hours of continuing education per year. Six CE’s can be home study.
State laws stipulate what procedures a dental hygienist can and cannot perform. In Texas, under the direct supervision of a dentist, a licensed dental hygienist can provide:
- topical anesthesia
- teeth bleaching/whitening
- fluoride and pit/fissure sealants
- root planing
- study cast impressions
- placement and removal of periodontal dressings
- removal of sutures
A dental hygienist cannot provide:
- diagnosis, assessment, or treatment planning
- local anesthesia
- soft tissue curettage – excision of inflamed gum tissue
- nitrous oxide
- suture placement
DENTAL HYGIENIST SALARY IN TEXAS
Salary varies according to practice type, job responsibilities, market competition, and the city in which you work. The average annual salary for a licensed dental hygienist in Texas is $63,000. Dental hygienists in our Lone Star State have salaries above the national average by $1,050 per year.
THE FUTURE FOR DENTAL HYGIENISTS
The job market is booming for licensed dental hygienists in Texas. Employment is expected to increase by 38% through 2020. This is primarily due to the development of new technology for oral care and dentists delegating more of their responsibilities.
You don’t have to check your horoscope or wish upon a star to be led to a great career. Obtain your degree as a licensed dental hygienist, and see your exciting destiny unfold!