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Dental Hygienists are licensed professionals concerned with the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. As a member of the dental health care team, the Dental Hygienist uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods for the prevention and control of oral diseases and to assist adults and children in attaining and maintaining the most favorable oral health.
Dental Hygienists may:
Take and record medical and dental histories and blood pressures
Examine and record the condition of mouth and teeth on charts
Educate patients and community groups on oral hygiene and on dietary control of dental diseases
Take and process X-rays of the teeth and jaws and perform other diagnostic tests
Remove deposits from patients' teeth by scaling calculus from teeth and smoothing rough root surfaces
Polish the teeth to remove stains and shape restorations
Apply topical fluorides and sealants to help prevent decay
Place and remove temporary restorations
Perform oral cancer and blood pressure screenings
Clean, sharpen, and sterilize supplies and equipment
Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease
Click here to view a brief video of Dental Hygienists at work!
Click here to learn more about Dental Hygienists!
In some offices, Dental Hygienists may have some general business office duties. Instruments, equipment, and work aids used by Dental Hygienists include:
Materials used may include:
Dental Hygienist is the only specialty in this Career Exploration script:
078.361-010 DENTAL HYGIENISTS are licensed professionals concerned with the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. As an auxiliary to the Dentist, the Hygienist uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods for the control of oral diseases to aid adults and children in attaining and maintaining the most favorable oral health.
In addition to learning about these specialties, you may find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration scripts:
Dental Hygienists work under the direction of a dentist. The work is performed in clean, comfortable surroundings. They work directly with patients on an individual basis. Hygienists must follow safety procedures to avoid infections from and between patients and radiation from X-ray equipment. They might have to stand while working, but they usually sit on a stool at the side of the patient.
Working hours for Dental Hygienists vary widely. Approximately one-third of Hygienists work 3 days a week (24 hours). They usually work between 31 and 40 hours per week. Working hours are flexible and may include some evenings and Saturdays. Some Hygienists work part time for more than one dentist. In most facilities, they are required to wear uniforms.
You Should Prefer:
You Should Be Able To:
Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve:
Calculate the percentage of nitrous oxide being delivered to a patient at the flow of 4 liters per minute of nitrous oxide and 6 liters per minute of oxygen. How does this percentage relate to the level recommended for optimal sedation?
Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:
Para-amino benzoic acid is one of the metabolites formed from hydrolysis of the ester-type compounds. This substance is capable of inducing allergic-type reactions in a small percentage of the population.
Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce:
Record a patient's oral health after an annual check-up.
Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:
Must demonstrate excellent decision making and analytical skills and be detail oriented.
Although there are no formal work experience requirements, all Hygienists must complete clinical experience as part of their education. The State of Michigan requires a license for this occupation. Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Dental Hygienist for specific licensing information.
Dental Hygienists must have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, have a working knowledge of the English language; pass the 1-day, written National Board of Dental Hygiene Examiners ; and pass the 2-part written and clinical Northeast Regional Board Dental Examination . To maintain licensure, a dental hygienist must obtain a minimum of 36 continuing education hours, with at least 12 of those hours relating to clinical issues, during each three-year licensing period, and hold a current CPR certification.
NOTE: An Associate Degree (two years of study beyond high school) or a Bachelor's Degree (four years of study beyond high school) may qualify a person for this occupation.
The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration script:
0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1300 ENGLISH , 1500 FOODS & NUTRITION , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY
***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS***
There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration script.
042 DENTAL HYGIENE
Dental Hygiene Programs provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed for employment helping patients with dental care and preventive treatment. Dental Hygienists are licensed and are employed by dentists, government health agencies, school systems, hospital and industrial dental clinics, the military services, and in Dental Hygiene education programs.
Courses within this program will vary but may include:
There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration script.
***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS***
Please check the Military web site at http://www.todaysmilitary.com .
Dental care is one of the health services provided to all military personnel. It is available in military dental clinics all over the world. Dental specialists assist military dentists in examining and treating patients. They also help manage dental offices.
What They Do
Dental specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
Civilian dental specialists work in dental offices or clinics. Their work is similar to work in the military. They typically specialize in assisting dentists to treat patients, provide clerical support (dental assistants), or clean teeth (dental hygienists).
Dental specialists must sometimes stand for long periods.
A minimum age of 18 is required for this occupation
Helpful school subjects include biology and chemistry. Helpful attributes include:
Job training consists of 9 to 14 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice in dental care tasks. Course content typically includes:
Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. The Navy offers a certified apprenticeship program for one specialty in this occupation.
Dental specialists in the military usually work indoors in dental offices or clinics. Some specialists may be assigned to duty aboard ships.
The number of dental specialists currently in the military is unknown. New specialists are needed annually due to personnel changes and demands in the field. With experience, dental specialists perform more difficult tasks involving patient care. In time, they may become responsible for assisting dental officers in the management of dental programs.
Postsecondary programs in dental hygiene may offer opportunities for work-related experience. Some Dental Hygienists serve in various branches of the military service.
School-to-Work opportunities include:
job shadowing experiences
touring a local Dental Hygienist employer
volunteer work with a Dental Hygienist employer
community service work with an agency
Dental Hygienists may apply directly to dental offices, schools, hospitals, or civil service offices. Assistance may be obtained from some dental hygiene schools and professional organizations. Jobs may be located by consulting newspaper want ads, professional journals, or local offices of Michigan Works!. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as:
You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.
Earnings of Dental Hygienists are affected by the type of employer, education, experience of the individual Hygienist, and geographic location. Hygienists who work in private dental offices are usually paid an hourly wage, although some are salaried or paid commissions for work performed.
Nationally, the average daily pay in early 2009 was about $210 for experienced Dental Hygienists, who were employed in hospitals and related other organizations.
In Michigan, Dental Hygienists employed by governmental agencies in early 2009 earned daily wages of:
Beginning Dental Hygienists who were graduates of one 2-year dental hygiene program in Michigan (2005-2006) received an average starting salary of $153 per day.
Depending on the employer, Dental Hygienists may receive paid vacations and holidays; continuing education and/or professional dues allowance; profit sharing; and/or life, health, accident, and disability insurance; sick pay; and pension plans. They may also receive free dental care. Benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by the employer. Hygienists employed on a part-time basis in private dental offices might not receive many or any of these benefits. Those who work on a commission basis may not receive any.
Most hospitals promote Dental Hygienists to supervisory duties, depending on the experience and education of the individual. Some Hygienists may also become instructors. Advancement for Dental Hygienists is limited and usually comes in the form of higher wages. Training, experience, and competence in technical work are the determining factors for advancement. A few supervisory positions may be available in large clinics for those with leadership ability. Dental Hygienists with advanced degrees may advance to teaching or administrative public health positions.
Nationally, there were about 167,000 Dental Hygienists employed in 2006, with many of them employed part-time. Employment of Dental Hygienists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. There is a current shortage of trained Hygienists in many areas of the country. However, if the increasing supply of dentists leads to fewer patients per dental office, dentists may choose to perform more services themselves and hire fewer Hygienists. The industry distribution for Dental Hygienists was primarily concentrated in dental offices, offices of healthcare practitioners and social assistance.
There are approximately 8,600 Dental Hygienists employed in Michigan. Almost all of them are employed in private dental offices. Hospitals; clinics; nursing homes; school systems; centers for the developmentally disabled; and federal, state, and local government agencies also employed Dental Hygienists.
The employment of Dental Hygienists in Michigan is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. An average of 340 job openings is expected with 180 due to growth and 160 due to replacement of those who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. More openings will occur as workers transfer to other jobs or occupations.
Employment of Hygienists in Michigan is expected to grow as a result of a growing population's increasing awareness of the importance of regular dental care.
To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator.
MICHIGAN'S EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK TO 2016
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