Dental Hygienists: Overview, Roles, Responsibilities and Work Environment
Dental hygienists work directly with the patient and help to explain good oral hygiene, as well as provide preventive care. Dental hygienists also examine teeth for gum or teeth for abnormalities or diseases. They work side by side with the dentist in most cases.
One of the most significant aspects of becoming a dental hygienist is the flexible scheduling that accompany the job. Many people in this career work part time, on weekends, or full time depending on what is needed. In 2008, 85% of dental hygienists worked only 35 hours per week.
The work environment for a dental hygienists is an office setting, with sitting down frequently with patients being a daily activity. They wear safety glasses, gloves and facial masks when working with patients to prevent spreading of infectious germs. Those who work in the field need to be careful not to strain their back and neck which is a common side effect of bending over patients for so many hours during the day.
The employment for dental hygienists is predicted to increase by 36% over the next ten years. This will open up about 63,000 more jobs.
The salary for dental hygienists depends on whether the person works full time, part time or whatnot. A person in the dental hygienist field may be paid on commission, hourly or a daily salary. The median annual wage for dental hygienists in America is approximately $69,280 per year. Those who earn on the higher end of the spectrum reported in recent government surveys to earn $94,850. However, this was a small percentage at only 10% of people reporting this type of income. These same people reported that they did receive some type of employment benefits whether they worked full or part time. These included, sick days, paid vacation, etc.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.
Education and Training
A high school diploma is required to enter into any dental hygienists training program. There is a minimum requirement of an associates degree or certificate in dental hygiene to work in a private dentists office. In addition to schooling, a person must be certified by the state in which they intend to practice. This includes passing an oral and written examination.