Dental hygienists perform an important role in the dental office. Their tasks include removing calculus and stains, helping to prevent dental disease, applying preventive agents and taking radiographs (X-rays). Hygienists perform oral cancer screenings, take patients' medical history, take vital signs and educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Hygienists are professional health care providers who work in a variety of settings that include dental offices, education, research and dental sales. They may also work as administrators and advocates for patients’ oral health.
Job duties may include:
Almost all dental hygienists work in general dental practices or in specialty practices such as periodontics or pediatric dentistry. They may also help provide dental hygiene services for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and public health clinics.
With further education and experience, dental hygienists can move into areas such as teaching hygiene students in dental schools and dental hygiene education programs. Research, office management and business administration are other career options. Employment opportunities also may be available with companies that market dental-related materials and equipment.
Dental hygienists must be good at working with their hands in tight quarters using very precise instruments. They should be comfortable performing physical tasks such as bending over patients for a long time. Dental hygienists must understand how to operate complex technology, including X-ray machines and powered instruments.
A good dental hygienist:
A dental hygienist is a professional licensed by the state and usually must have an associate degree. There’s a big difference in the scope of work and also the salaries. The biggest differences between the two are the licensure to practice and that a dental hygienist often works one-on-one with patients performing independent tasks, while dental assistants are not licensed and conduct smaller and more supervised jobs on patients' teeth.
A national shortage of qualified dental hygienists ensures that graduates of El Centro’s Dental Hygiene program will have access to excellent job opportunities.
CareerOneStop (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor), salaries and projected job growth in Texas are: