A dental hygienist is one of the first people you see when visiting the dentist. He or she may conduct procedures such as taking x-rays before the dentist comes in the room.
While dental hygienists are known for their calm mannerisms and ability to hold a conversation while cleaning teeth, the truth is that they are highly educated in oral health care.
As you get ready for your next dental appointment, the following information may help you feel confident about your hygienist’s level of training and abilities.
What Are the Educational Requirements of Dental Hygienist?
In most cases, prior to becoming eligible to take their licensing exam, dental hygienists are required to have at least a two-year degree from an accredited college or technical school. During this time, prospective hygienists take a combination of classroom courses along with hands-on laboratory experiences.
All of which helps them learn how to work alongside dentists to perform various dental procedures. While you may see degree programs that offer a fast track for completion, the same level of content is taught but in condensed sessions that often include night and weekend courses.
What Types of Classes Do Hygienists Take?
In addition to the typical classes college students take such as mathematics, dental hygiene students take courses that apply directly to their future career. Science courses, such as human anatomy and physiology, help them learn about the structure of the mouth and how it relates to the rest of the body.
As they advance through their degree program, they take more specific courses such as ones that teach about periodontics and pain management techniques for dental patients. Your dental hygienist is also likely to be certified in CPR and First Aid so that they are prepared to respond to any emergency.
Do Hygienists Need a License to Practice?
Completing a degree program is only the beginning of the process required to become a dental hygienist. Once they graduate, prospective hygienists must then pass rigorous written and clinical exams to become licensed in their state. Prior to beginning their exams, they may also be required to demonstrate that they are of good moral character through the completion of background checks.
How Do They Stay Current on New Procedures?
Today, the dental field is constantly changing. New techniques and equipment are introduced that help people achieve the highest level of oral health possible. For this reason, dental hygienists are committed to staying current on the latest developments.
Once they are employed, hygienists work with their employer to develop a plan for continuing education that helps them stay on top of the best strategies for treating patients in their field. From attending conferences to enrolling in continuing education classes, they spend a large part of their time improving their knowledge and skill set so that they are assets to every dental team.
A well-trained dental hygienist not only helps you to feel more comfortable during procedures such as a routine cleaning, but they also know how to spot potential issues developing in your mouth such as abrasions from aggressive tooth brushing. As your dental exam begins, be sure to advise your hygienist of any potential issues you may be having with your oral health. This allows you to get the most out of your visit with the dentist.