Brief Overview of the Work
Dental hygienists are an important component of the dental team. These professionals handle the preventative aspect of dental health while the dentist deals with the curative aspects. In a dental practice, numerous dentists prefer to concentrate on specialized tasks and therefore leave the less complex tasks to the dental hygienist. Checking, cleaning, and whitening patients’ teeth are some responsibilities the hygienist takes on.
In addition, they educate the patients on methods and means of maintaining good oral hygiene as a deterrent to future dental diseases and complications. The dental hygienist also assists the dentist while they carry out complex procedures. Depending on the duties allowed within the certification guidelines; the hygienist may handle radiology procedures, local anesthesia amongst other procedures in the day to day activities of a dental practice.
Training, Financial Aid and Advancement
In order to practice as a dental hygienist, one requires a minimum of a certificate, associate degree or undergraduate degree, depending on the state one is in. In Charlotte, the minimum requirement is completion of a dental hygienist program in one of the Charlotte dental hygienist schools and licensure from the American Dental Association after successfully sitting their exams. During ones training, it is possible to seek financial aid from a number of sources.
One may consider applying for a scholarship in the school one is attending. Alternatively, one may seek assistance from the ADA through its numerous affiliate bodies. On completion of this initial certification, one may choose to pursue further studies in the event of which one may progress to a Masters level. This opens up the door to teaching and research options as well as higher paying positions in larger institutions such as hospitals and government facilities.
Employment, Job Outlook and Earnings
Employment opportunities depend on one’s level of education. Most dental hygienists in Charlotte are employed in private dental practices on a full time or part time basis. The advancement of one’s qualifications widens the employment opportunities. However, licensing in Charlotte only allows one to work in Charlotte and the greater North Carolina areas, not cross state. This may increase the competitiveness of this profession in the area going forward.
However, according to the National Employment Matrix from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are set to increase at a rate of thirty six percent per year running to 2018. Current statistics also indicate that the median salary earned was $69,280 per year, with this number forecasted to increase year on year as the demand for dental hygienists grows.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.