If you like working with people, then becoming a dental hygienist might be a good career choice for you. You also need to be good with your hands and have a strong aptitude for biology and math.

Skills Needed to Become a Dental Hygienist

If you become a dental hygienist, you will be doing a job that is very rewarding but also very demanding. You will need to have the following abilities and interests:

  • Enjoy working with people
  • Patience
  • Do well in math, biology, and chemistry classes
  • Effective critical thinking skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Good with your hands

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

A dental hygienist performs a number of tasks. In addition to working directly with patients as part of a dedicated team of professionals, dental hygienists are sometimes called upon to perform other duties in an office setting.  

Sometimes dental hygienists are asked to speak to students or community groups about how to practice effective oral hygiene. The many responsibilities of a dental hygienist include:

  • Taking blood pressure
  • Removing patients’ plaque and tartar during regular dental cleanings
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Teaching patients about home dental care
  • Cancer screenings
  • Performing occasional office work, such as answering phones
  • Educating students and others about effective dental care
  • Reviewing patients’ dental care history
  • Administering preventative treatments, such as sealants and fluoride treatments

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

There are four things you need to do to become a dental hygienist:

  1. Get your Associate’s degree in dental hygienics–you can do this at a community college, a vocational school, or a dental school. It typically requires three years of fulltime study.
  2. Pass the National Board Examinationsthis test is designed toassess candidates’ ability to understand important information from basic biomedical and dental sciences and also the ability to apply such information in a problem-solving context.”
  3. Pass a state or regional skills-based examination designed to cover information about skills needed to practice in the field.
  4. Apply for your license with your local licensing board.

The Courses You Will Need to Take

Becoming a dental hygienist requires extensive knowledge about the dental field.  Here’s a list of subjects which commonly make up the curriculum in dental hygienist programs:

  • Dental materials
  • Pharmacology
  • Infection control
  • Periodontics
  • Radiology
  • Pain management
  • Oral pathology

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