Run your tongue across your teeth and you might feel some tartar build up or something stuck in between your back molars. Are you itching for the chance to floss and brush your teeth right this moment? If you're someone who prides themselves on excellent dental hygiene, perhaps working as a dental hygienist could be for you.Working as a dental hygienist in a dentist's office gives you the opportunity to work alongside fellow dental professionals to help give people the gift of a healthy, beautiful smile. You will be trained to professionally clean teeth, take dental x-rays, and teach patients important oral hygiene techniques. Furthermore, you will apply sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth and keep track of patients' care and treatment plans.The job requires your full attention. Using tools to go inside someone's mouth and clean their teeth requires you to work very closely with each patient. When you clean someone's teeth or take x-rays, you will follow important procedures to keep the both of you safe. These procedures will include the use of protective gloves, surgical masks, and safety glasses to protect you and the patient safe from infectious diseases. All in all, working as a dental hygienist can be rewarding as you help people feel confident about their clean, healthy smile.
Salaries and Job Outlook*
Education and Training
As far as education requirements go, you will need to earn your associate's degree in dental hygiene. You may also pursue a bachelor's degree, but these are less common. However, if you would like to do research, teach, or work in a clinical practice in public or school health programs, then a bachelor's or master's degree would be necessary.Every state requires you to be licensed, but requirements vary by state. In order to become licensed in most states, you must have a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and pass all state exams. To find out specific application requirements, you can contact your state's medical or health board.
Valued Traits & Abilities
This isn't an office job; you won't be chained to a desk for the majority of your day. You will work alongside dentists and dental assistants in a dentist's office. Working as a team, you will help make patients' visits go smoothly. Depending on what works best for you, you can choose to work part time or full time.You will spend long periods bending over patients to clean their teeth. It is important to remember that some patients become very nervous about dentist visits, so your kind and reassuring presence is so important to helping their visit go well.