Proper care of the oral cavity positively impacts virtually every other system in the human body. Conversely, neglect of one’s gums can lead to medical conditions more serious than tooth loss and as grave as cardiovascular disease. Thanks to the education provided by dentists, many patients are not only aware of the significance of good oral health but have received referrals to licensed dental hygienists. In order to reduce costs associated with long-term problems associated with improper oral care, a number of insurance providers provide coverage for a broad range of dental hygiene treatments. The necessity for these services, and their cost-effectiveness via the insurance companies, has contributed to the growth of this branch of dental health.
State Certification as a Dental Hygienist is a requisite to maneuver as a professional within this field. Programs resulting in Certification typically span six months to a year of studies at an accredited institution. The yearlong courses may provide you with an Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene, if you have amassed the requisite college credits in advance. Regardless of length, most programs include externships through which you will gain field-level, hands-on experience under the guidance of a licensed practitioner. Your studies will culminate in a Certificate of Completion. Upon graduation, you will be required to pass a State examination that will yield the Certification that you require to serve as a dental hygienist.
If you are interested in such a career, you must possess an analytical and retentive mind, enabling you to understand the anatomy of the human mouth, the appropriate terminology, and pertinent health/safety precautions. Building upon this knowledge, you will learn how to accurately diagnose adverse oral conditions, including cancers of the mouth. Squeamishness is a liability, as you will be required to perform invasive clinical procedures such as scalings, also known as deep cleanings, beneath and around the gums. Because you will be exposed to patients in this manner, you will also be required to receive Hepatitis B immunizations.
As most dental hygienists strive for a proactive approach, you also should possess a propensity for educating patients in a non-judgmental manner. Such an attitude will encourage them to take an active role in the prevention of undesirable oral conditions.