Is Dental Hygienist A Good Career Path? A Complete Guide

Written By Aleena

Is dental hygienist a good career path? Some people may view dental hygienists as being in a stable and secure profession.

But others may see the career as needing more room for advancement.

Is Dental Hygienist A Good Career Path?

Dental hygienists are in demand. They are an important part of the dental team and play a vital role in oral health care.

As per the importance of their job, it is safe to say that dental hygienist is a good career path.

 Oral hygiene habits.

Let’s find out the major roles and responsibilities of dental hygienists. It can help us in getting a better understanding of their job.

Who Are Dental Hygienists?

Dental hygienists are preventive oral health care professionals. They work with dentists and provide patients with educational, clinical, and therapeutic services.

The main aim of dental hygienists is to promote good oral hygiene habits. And they prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

What Are The Key Responsibilities Of Dental Hygienists?

The key responsibilities of dental hygienists include:

1. Cleaning Teeth:

This is the most important responsibility of a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists use various tools to remove plaque and tartar from teeth.

Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. And tartar is a hardened form of plaque.

Dental hygienists also use special instruments to floss teeth. And they remove any food particles that are stuck between teeth.

2. Educating Patients:

Dental hygienists also play an important role in educating patients about oral hygiene. For example, they give patients tips on how to brush and floss their teeth properly.

They also teach them the importance of a healthy diet for oral health.

With awareness of the importance of oral health on the rise, the demand for dental hygienists is expected to grow.

3. Taking X-Rays:

Another important role of dental hygienists is to take X-rays of patients’ teeth. Dentists use these X-rays to diagnose problems with patients’ teeth.

With new technology, dental hygienists can take X-rays more quickly and with less radiation than in the past.

Although X-rays are vital in dental care, they should be used sparingly. This is because too much radiation can be harmful to patients.

Job Outlook Of Dental Hygienist

Overall, the job outlook for dental hygienists is positive. The BLS states that the employment of dental hygienists will grow by 9 percent from 2021-2031.

An aging population is driving this growth. And there is now an increased awareness of the importance of oral health.

And with more people keeping their teeth into old age, there is a greater demand for dental care.

Dental hygienists also have more opportunities to work in alternative settings. They may work in nursing homes and schools.

How Much Do Dental Hygienists Make?

Dental hygienists made a median salary of $95167 in November 2022. (Glassdoor)

Dental hygienists in the top 10 percent of earners made more than $129,822. However, the bottom 10 percent of earners made less than $69,763.

Dental hygienists salary - is dental hygienist a good career path

Dental hygienists with more experience tend to earn higher salaries. Those who have completed advanced education or training may also earn higher salaries.

How To Become A Dental Hygienist?

Let’s discuss the steps you need to take to become a dental hygienist.

1. Complete A Dental Hygiene Program:

The first step to becoming a dental hygienist is to complete an accredited dental hygiene program.

Dental hygiene programs are typically two or three years in length. And they lead to an associate’s degree or certificate.

After completing a dental hygiene program, you’ll need to obtain a license to practice.

2. Pass The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination:

To become licensed, you’ll need to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.

The NBDHE is a written and clinical exam. It tests your knowledge of dental hygiene. And it checks your ability to perform dental hygiene procedures.

3. Obtain A State License:

After passing the NBDHE, you’ll need to obtain a state license to practice.

To do this, you’ll need to pass a state-specific licensing exam. It differs from the NBDHE but is generally similar in format and content.

4. Find A Job:

Once you’ve obtained your license, you can begin searching for a job. There are many different settings in which dental hygienists can work.

The most common setting is a private dental office. But dental hygienists can also work in public health clinics, schools, nursing homes, and research facilities.

5. Advance Your Career:

Once you’ve settled into a job, you can advance your career in many different ways.

You can pursue further education to become a dental hygienist instructor. Also, you could also move into management or become a dental sales representative.

You could even start your own dental hygiene business.

Reasons Dental Hygienist Is A Good Career Path (Pros)

Now, what are some of the advantages of being a dental hygienist?

1. You Can Help People:

As a dental hygienist, you’ll clean people’s teeth. And you will help them to maintain good oral health.

This can be a very rewarding experience. You’re making a difference in someone’s life.

Oral health.

Also, it’s a great feeling to see the results of your work. Someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in a while comes in for a cleaning. And you can see the difference that you’ve made.

2. It’s A Growing Field:

The demand for dental hygienists is growing. As the population ages, more and more people are going to the dentist. And they’re going more often.

This means that there will be more job opportunities for dental hygienists.

Some dental hygienists work in private practices. Others work in clinics or public health facilities.

3. You Can Specialize:

There are many different specialties within the field of dental hygiene. For example, you can specialize in periodontics, which studies gum disease.

Or you can specialize in pediatrics, which works with children’s teeth.

You can even specialize in dental forensics, using your skills to help solve crimes.

4. Good Salary And Benefits:

Dental hygienists make a good salary. The median annual salary for dental hygienists is $95167. And the top 10% of dental hygienists make more than $100,000 a year. (Glassdoor)

Dental hygienists also get good benefits. Most dental hygienists have health insurance and retirement plans.

So these are some of the reasons why dental hygiene is a good career path. If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, you should look into it.

It’s a great way to make a good living and help people simultaneously.

Reasons Dental Hygienist Is Not A Good Career Path (Cons)

So there are some good things about dental hygiene as a career. But there are also some bad things.

Let’s look at why there might be better careers than dental hygiene.

1. Not Much Room For Advancement:

As a dental hygienist, you will have little opportunity to advance your career.

You’ll be doing the same thing for years and years. There might be opportunities to move into management or teaching. But these will be limited.

And when it comes to salary, you’ll max out pretty quickly. Some hygienists make six figures, but most don’t.

2. It Can Be Boring:

Another downside of being a dental hygienist is that it can be pretty boring.

Dental hygienist - is dental hygienist a good career path

Sure, you’ll have some variety in your patients. But for the most part, you’ll be doing the same thing repeatedly.

And because you’ll be doing the same thing, it can be easy to get burned out.

Some ways to combat this include finding a niche or working in a specialty practice. But it’s still something to consider.

3. Being A Dental Hygienist Isn’t As Easy As It Looks:

Being a dental hygienist may look easy, but it’s a lot of work. You’ll be on your feet all day, using your hands to clean your teeth.

And you’re working in someone’s mouth. Thus, you’ll have to be very careful to avoid spreading bacteria.

You’ll also need to be comfortable with blood, as you may see some during teeth cleanings.

So these are just a few things you should consider before becoming a dental hygienist.

Alternatives To Becoming A Dental Hygienist

There are other options if you need to figure out if being a dental hygienist is right for you.

1. Dental Assistant:

A dental assistant helps the dentist with procedures. They may also take x-rays and perform other tasks.

However, they have less responsibility than a dental hygienist. Also, dental assistants typically only need a high school diploma or equivalent.

And with on-the-job training, they can usually start working within a few months.

2. Dental Technician:

A dental technician makes dental appliances such as crowns and bridges. They may also make dentures, implants, and veneers.

Dental technicians typically need to complete a dental technician program. And they must have license in most states.

Also, dental technicians usually work in a dental lab. But they may also work in a dentist’s office.

3. Dental Therapist:

A dental therapist is a type of dentist. They can do many of the same things as a regular dentist.

However, they cannot do as much as a regular dentist. For example, they cannot do root canals or extract teeth. And they can’t prescribe medication.

However, their training is shorter. So they can see patients more quicker. Dental therapists must complete a dental therapy program. And they must have license in most states.

4. Dentist:

The best-known type of dentist is a general dentist. A general dentist can do many different types of procedures.

For example, they can fill cavities, do root canals, and extract teeth. They can also prescribe medication.

To become a dentist, you must complete four years of dental school. And you must pass a state licensing exam.

You can then specialize in a certain area of dentistry. For example, you could become an orthodontist. Or you could become a periodontist.

Skills Needed To Be A Dentist

To be a dentist, you must have good soft and hard skills. Some of the soft skills you need are:

1. People Skills:

You need to be able to communicate with your patients. You also need to be able to work with a team of dental professionals.

The patients that come to see you will have different personalities. So you need to be able to adapt to each patient’s personality.

Dental professionals - is dental hygienist a good career path

Some of the hard skills you need are:

2. Technical Skills:

You need to be able to use dental equipment. You also need to be able to perform dental procedures.

Also, you need to have good problem-solving skills. This is because you will encounter different problems with each patient.

You need to be able to find the best solution for each problem.

3. Organizational Skills:

You need to be able to keep track of your patient’s records. You also need to be able to schedule appointments.

And with each patient, you need to be able to provide the best possible care. And you need to keep track of their progress.

Final Word:

So is dental hygienist a good career path? It can be. But it depends on your skills and interests.

You may enjoy this career if you like working with people and have good communication skills. You will also need to be detail-oriented and have good manual dexterity.

If you have these qualities, then a career in dental hygiene could be

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about dental hygienists:

1. Is Dental Hygienist A Good Career Path For The Future?

With an expected growth of 9% from 2021-2031, as per BLS, a career in dental hygiene is a good option for the future.

With an aging population, there will be an increased demand for dental care.

2. Is Dental Hygienist A Good Career Path For Women?

A career in dental hygiene is a good option for women as it offers work-life balance and flexibility.

Women make up the majority of dental hygienists. And the profession will grow at a faster rate than other occupations.

Also, dental hygienists have the option to work part-time or full-time. It gives them the flexibility to balance their work and personal life.

Last Updated on 10 months by Shahzaib Arshad


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