What Dental Hygienists Do (and How to Become One)

October 03, 2020

What Dental Hygienists Do (and How to Become One)
Dental office and dental hygienist

The name dental hygienist has a nice ring to it. You can infer from the name itself that the tasks related to being a dental hygienist are about promoting dental health to people. A dental hygienist works alongside a dentist in providing dental care to patients and educating them about proper dental hygiene. If you are planning on pursuing a career in the healthcare field without having to acquire a medical or dental degree or finishing a bachelor’s degree, becoming a dental hygienist can be a good option. If you are interested, read on as we discuss here what a dental hygienist does and you can become one.


Let’s get to know what Dental Hygienists do


The responsibilities and roles performed by a dental hygienist essentially remain the same across various employers and states. It is essential to at least have an idea of the scope of responsibilities entailed in this job if you want to know how to become a dental hygienist and decide to pursue the career. To make it easier to remember the tasks of a dental hygienist, we categorized their tasks as follows.


Patient Interaction Tasks


A dental hygienist generally interacts with the patients through screening and assessing their dental history by asking them relevant questions about their dental health and symptoms. They also educate patients about the importance of dental health and hygiene. They also emphasize the significance of proper nutrition on dental health.


Dental Service Tasks


Dental hygienists work with dentists when it comes to performing dental services. Although they do not perform major dental procedures, they are trained to perform standard dental care services such as cleaning to remove plaque, tartar, and stains, administering fluoride and polish, and taking and developing dental x-rays.


Documentation Tasks


The tasks of a dental hygienist extend into the documentation area as well. They perform dental charting, document patient information, and health background, and update patient records. Documentation and interaction tasks are essential roles that dental hygienists do because they help improve the communication between dental health professionals and their patients. They can act as intermediaries or reinforcers of important dental health instructions, prescriptions, and appointments.#


Requirements and qualifications for becoming a Dental Hygienist


The specific requirements can vary by state, but at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene is required in all states. To get your requirement and qualification information set and updated, you’ll need to obtain them from a state-specific dental board. It may be from your state or from the state where you want to work. The dental hygienist training may require the completion of a prescribed number of clinical hours, which can also vary by state. Some schools also offer bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, which can be useful for those who want to pursue specialized careers like conducting research, teaching at the university level, or public healthcare or health management roles.


While not all states require that your completed dental hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), it can be advantageous when it comes to the quality of training you receive and the prospect of landing a job under some reputable employers. Licensing is an important requirement for dental hygienists across all states. After completing their dental hygiene program, you must pass the NBDHE exam and a clinical exam administered by your state or regional authority. Additional licenses may be required by some states and employers, such as x-ray certification, local anesthesia certification, or nitrous oxide analgesia certification. Some excellent skills that you can include in your repertoire are excellent communication skills and proficiency in MS Office or similar applications.


The dental hygienist job is an important one even though it has a less rigorous training and qualification requirements than for dentists and other medical professionals. The roles dental hygienists play are essential for instilling awareness about caring for one’s dental health in people. Thus, if you like to care for your teeth and reach out to others to do the same, this might be the job that will suit you. If you are set on pursuing this career, do your best to meet the requirements in order to get started in just a few years.


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