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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Wyoming

A dental hygienist is an oral care professional licensed to provide clinical and therapeutic dental hygiene services. Each state has different regulations for entering this career path. Following are the requirements and expectations of a dental hygienist in Wyoming.

Requirements of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists must obtain the proper education and training in addition to taking a license test before beginning work in the dental industry. Their education, training and duties go beyond those required to be a dental assistant. At the least, hygienists must earn an associate’s degree, but they may advance to bachelor’s or master’s at their choice.

After receiving credentials to work, hygienists are required to assist the dentist before, during and after routine procedures. This includes checking patients’ dental and medical history, examining and providing various treatments and discussing further treatment plans with the dentist after the patient leaves.

Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?
Becoming a dental hygienist in Wyoming requires background education and training in the field. A dental hygiene program involves rigorous study with advanced science classes. These classes are typically offered in an accelerated style, thus the student should have experience in basic science courses to have a better chance to succeed. Applicants to a dental hygiene program are also required to take pre-dental hygiene courses, and a grade of “C” or higher must be earned to continue.

The program combines academic study with clinical experience in a supervised setting. Upon graduating from the 16-month program, students receive an Associate of Applied Science degree. They are then eligible to continue toward state or regional exams as necessary.

Are Dental Hygienists Required to be Certified?
Dental hygienists are required to be licensed to practice. Certification is dependent upon the job duties where the hygienist works. He or she may be required to have specific or additional certification in anesthesia, advanced CPR, laser procedures or other areas.

How Can a Dental Hygienist Become Certified?
Applicants in Wyoming must earn their degree in dental hygiene along with completing national and regional exams. In order to become certified, they must also have completed 800 clinical hours in the year before applying, complete a CPR training course, pass the state jurisprudence exam and submit to a background check.

Is Continuing Education Necessary?
All US states require dental hygienists to obtain a state license before they begin working. This is acquired through the initial dental hygiene program upon graduation and receiving a passing score on necessary exams. The continuation of one’s education with a bachelor’s or master’s degree is optional for the hygienist. This continued education may lead to increased earning potential should the hygienist continue working.

Typical Dental Hygienist Salary in Wyoming
Pay varies for dental hygienists depending on location and experience, but the average starting salary in Wyoming is $21 to $25 per hour. In more rural areas, hygienists often work part-time in more than one office. The lower 10 percent of wages starts at $14.60 per hour and $30,400 annually. The top 90 percent makes $34.64 hourly and $72,100 per year. The median salary is $25.80 hourly and $53,700 annually.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, dental hygienist employment is expected to increase by 38 percent by 2018. In the state of Wyoming, this increase is expected to be at 36 percent by 2016, or approximately 15 jobs per year.

Normal Job Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A hygienist’s day often begins by reviewing patients’ charts to gain a background of their circumstances and medical history, and it ends by discussing patients’ treatment plans with the dentist. During the course of treating patients, the hygienist will be involved in examining and cleaning teeth and gums while helping to maintain oral health.

During the day, a hygienist may use many types of equipment including lasers, probes, scalers, x-ray units and cleaning devices. Duties related to this equipment include exposing and developing x-ray film, spotting signs of oral diseases, recording dental history and applying fluorides to teeth. The hygienist may assist the dentist in removing calcareous deposits and stains as well. Information regarding patients and treatment may need to documented with the use of medical software, accounting software and word-processing programs.

What Tasks is a Dental Hygienist Legally Allowed to Perform?
A dental hygienist is allowed to use equipment and perform procedures beyond those of a standard dental assistant, including using a variety of devices to clean and examine the teeth. Unlike an assistant, a hygienist is legally allowed to place pit and fissure sealants, clean teeth and provide various services before the dentist arrives without the need for supervision. A hygienist is allowed to take x-rays of the patient’s teeth and use lasers during the treatment process.