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Learn About the Requirements for Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists play an important role in helping patients maintain good oral health.

What are the Requirements for Dental Hygienists?

Education

The minimum educational requirement is an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene or a certificate (only available to those who already have a degree).

Certificate Program

A certificate program can be completed within nine to twelve months. Classes include Dental Hygiene Practice Theory, Dental Pharmacology, Histology, Local Anesthesia, Oral and General Pathology, and Periodontology.

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene

An associate program takes about two years to complete if students attend classes full-time. Classes offered are likely to include Anxiety and Pain Control, Clinical and Dental Hygiene Practice, Dental Hygiene Theory, Oral and Dental Anatomy, and Preclinical Dental Hygiene Theory.

Certification and Licensure

After students graduate from their program, they need to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as it’s required by all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

Required Skills

There are several skills dental hygienists must possess such as:

Active Listening Skills – It’s important that they give full attention to what someone else is saying, asking questions when appropriate, and never interrupting.

Critical Thinking Skills – This is using logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of approaches to problems, conclusions, and alternative solutions.

Writing Skills – Dental hygienists must know how to effectively communicate in writing.

English Language Skills – Dental hygienists must have a full understanding of the content and structure of the English language, such as proper grammar, spelling of words, and composition rules.

Time Management Skills – This is a necessary skill in order to complete daily tasks in a timely manner.

Deductive Reasoning Skills – This is the ability to apply general rules to problems in order to produce sensible answers.

Social Perceptiveness – Being aware of how other people react and why they do.

 

 

Job Activities

There are many job activities including:

Gathering Information – Observing and receiving information from any and all relevant sources.

Keeping Current – This involves keeping up to date technically as well as applying new-found knowledge to the job.

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships – It’s highly beneficial for dental hygienists to develop cooperative and positive working relationships and maintaining them.

Handling Administrative Tasks – These can include processing paperwork and maintaining patient files.

Mentoring Coworkers – This involves knowing the development needs of coworkers and mentoring them so they improve their knowledge and skills necessary for the job.

Abilities

There are several required abilities needed to work as a dental hygienist such as:

Near Vision – The ability to see details within a few feet of the observer.

Speech Clarity – It’s really important that dental hygienists speak clearly so others can understand them, especially patients.

Finger Dexterity – This is the ability to make precise coordinated movements of the fingers in order to grasp or manipulate small objects.

Steadiness – Those wishing to work in this field need to be able to keep their arms and hands steady.

Job Duties 

Dental Hygienists have several job duties and tasks for which they are responsible:

  • Keeping the work environment clean
  • Applying fluorides and other cavity prevention agents to patients’ teeth to prevent dental decay
  • Using probes to examine gums in order to locate signs of gum disease and recessed gums
  • Exposing and developing x-rays
  • Placing temporary restorations
  • Readying patient treatment rooms
  • Greeting and preparing patients for their treatment
  • Looking for signs of oral cancer during an examination
  • Teaching patients the proper brushing and flossing methods

Dental hygienists have to meet a lot of requirements, but they are well worth it to work in a fulfilling career. To learn more, please contact us for additional information.