While they do not actually do what a dentist does, dental hygienists commonly work alongside dentists to allow dentists to become more effective with their jobs. With that, their main tasks would include educating patients about dental health, proper oral hygiene, proper way of cleaning teeth and doing processes that would prevent problems that could happen to a patient. Some other tasks would be taking dental x-rays, removing plaque and stains and root planning.
Generally, hygienist have a definite set of tasks that they are only supposed to do however, they are allowed to do some tasks of a dentist in some places. Some of these tasks which would include filling and treating cavities, anaesthetizing, preparing a patient for a dental process, removing stitches and applying metal crowns.
What hygienists have that other jobs do not have is flexibility of scheduling as they could work part time in different offices since they might only need to be hired a few days in a week. However, reasonable amounts of full time, weekend and on call jobs are also available.
In order for one to be able to pursue a career as a hygienist, one is required to have reasonably demanding qualifications such as passing a practical and written tests and graduating from an accredited dental hygiene school. These are the basic requirements to be able to practice dental hygiene anywhere in the US. Most states would also require passing a test regarding the legal aspects of dental hygiene. Some institutes would offer hands-on training programs for hygienists that would qualify those who would be taking it to take the exams required.
For those who are considering what undergraduate course should be taken in order to pursue dental hygiene later on, those that deal with health sciences and mathematics are recommended such as biology and chemistry. Some skills that would make a hygienist effective in his or her job are effective communication skills and good manual dexterity as the job requires the handling of a lot of different instruments.
The job market for a hygienist is expected to increase as the years go by as demand for dental care is also increasing. With this, they are also expected to take over some tasks that have been done by dentists in the past. In the year 2012, dental hygiene is expected to become one of the fastest growing careers.
As the population is constantly growing, the demand for dental care is also expected to grow even more. This could put dentists in charge of more duties that in turn, would create job opportunities for them to hire hygienists as they would have to keep up with this rate of growth.
How Much Does a Hygienist Expected To Earn? Since they commonly work part time or contractual, pay is usually counted on a per hour basis
Some of the lowest paid hygienists would make around $17 per hour while some of the highest paid ones could make around $40 per hour. On average, a dental hygienist makes anything in between $22 and $33 per hour. The overall median earnings in 2002 were around $27 per hour.
Dental Hygienists employed by the federal government are entitled into excellent benefits while those who are working for private firms may or may not receive benefits.