Should You Become a Dental Hygienist?
If you are wondering whether or not you want to become a dental hygienist, you should read this article for a quick glimpse into the life of a dental hygienist as well as the pros and cons of this profession. Dental hygienists have several positive things going for them: if you become a dental hygienist, you can expect to earn an average of $66,000 per year. Additionally, dental hygienists enjoy excellent job security - the profession is only continuing to expand. Projections have shown that the need for dental hygienists will increase over the next few decades.
In terms of working environment, you can expect to work in a necessarily sterile and clean, well-lit environment if you become a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists work very closely with dentists to provide excellent oral health care. Additionally, if you become a dental hygienist you can expect to receive a comprehensive benefits package. If you enjoy working with people and providing health care in a fast paced and highly professional environment, you may well want to become a dental hygienist.
What Kind of Work Life Can You Expect?
If you become a dental hygienist, you can safely bet that you will be spending a lot of time doing what the young lady pictured above is doing - removing soft plaque as well as hardened detrimental deposits from the surfaces of teeth and gums. You will also provide professional quality deep cleanings for patients in preparation for their consultation with the dentist. If you are especially squeamish, germophobic or simply don't like getting up close and personal with strangers' mouths on a regular basis, you may not want to become a dental hygienist. You can bet that you will be working very closely with patients presenting varying stages of oral and gingival diseases. For this reason, you should be more or less comfortable with the human body and its functions and able to withstand more than your fair share of bad breath.
Should you choose to become a dental hygienist, you will find your secondary role comes in the form of oral health educator. You will often be required to instruct patients in the proper techniques of oral hygiene such as flossing, tooth brushing, and care of any dental fixtures or specialty orthodontic equipment.
Most dental practices are open Monday through Friday and many also have office hours on weekends to accomodate patients who work during the week. If you choose to become a dental hygienist, you should be willing to work normal business hours as well as be open to the possibility of weekend overtime.
How Does One Become a Dental Hygienist?
If the above outlined duties and responsibilities seem agreeable and manageable to you, you have several options open if you still want to become a dental hygienist. Dental hygienist degrees come in several different levels. Many community colleges, for example, offer associate's degrees in dental hygiene. These programs can be quite affordable for students who qualify under in-state tuition classifications - you can expect to pay about $4000 to $8000 for an associate's program in dental hygiene which will consist of one year of in-classroom instruction followed by one year of in-practice learning.
Alternatively, if you want to become a dental hygienist and you feel like it will serve as more of a vocation than a job for you, you can opt for a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. A bachelor's degree will be considerably more expensive - you can expect to pay roughly $12,000 as an in-state student in order to complete the four year degree, or up to $37,000-$99,000 as an out-of-state student! As a matter of fact, you can even choose to complete a master's degree in dental hygiene if you are certain that the profession is ideal for you and that you will be satisfied doing this work for the foreseeable future. Considering the weighty investments, in terms of both time and money, required by the advanced degrees in dental hygiene, you should definitely spend a good deal of time muddling over whether or not you want to become a dental hygienist before you take the plunge.
All the same, if you do finally decide to become a dental hygienist, you can rejoice in having found a profession that is respectably well-paying, as well as one that provides an essential helpful service to the greater community.