Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Hygienist
After obtaining the proper education and accreditation from their local city or county, they will be hired to join a team in a dental office, working alongside a dentist, assisting in direct patient care. Manual dexterity is a must, since they will have to use dental instruments in tight spaces.
The most common task is preventive dental care, which always includes teeth cleaning. Also, sealing, root planing, and educating the patient in general oral hygiene. In some dental clinics, teeth bleaching has now become another procedure routinely done by hygienists.
Administering anesthesia is increasingly done by hygienists, as the trend is for more dentists to delegate this. This allows the dentist to care for other patients while the anesthesia takes effect.
For many tasks, hygienists don’t require supervision. A growing number of areas are now allowing hygienists to administer fillings, which was commonly done only by dentists. This allows faster dental appointments.
The Kansas City area offers among the highest salaries in the state for dental hygienists, and leads in providing the most jobs in the state of Missouri. This is one of the fastest growing occupations, although it can be very competitive in some areas. Nearly half work part time, about three days a week, as flexible scheduling over evenings and weekends is prominent among dental hygienists, this allows working for more than one dental clinic if desired.
As older dentists retire, the ones that replace them are more likely to divide their workload with dental hygienists. Recent research showing a link between oral health and general health will see a growing emphasis on educating the public on preventive care, adding to job growth for dental hygienists.
Most places require a two year degree, which includes education and training in oral anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, microbiology, periodontology. Wearing protective gear, such as gloves, masks, and goggles is now mandatory. Advanced training beyond this prepares for more complex oral procedures.