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How To Become A Dental Hygienist?

Becoming a dental hygienist is not as easy as it sounds. If you are keen on becoming one, you need to know what is involved. There are a lot of responsibilities that a hygienist is required to carry out. Many forget about the responsibilities in a hurry to accomplish the task of being certified as a dental hygienist. It is true that the profession pays well, however you can't expect gain without pain.

 
Being a hygienist is similar to being a dentist. The job requirements are almost identical. Cleaning the teeth of patients, helping patients improve oral hygiene by educating them, preparing teeth charts, taking and developing x-rays and dental curing light are some of the duties performed by a dental hygienist.
 
A dental chart is very important as the dentist would be able to identify the patient's history only by using his dental chart. The non-availability of the dental chart means that the dentist will need to work on the patient blindly. Maintaining these charts are considerably difficult to do though they look like a task that can be accomplished easily. These charts need to be maintained for every patient. The hygienist is also required to perform tasks that are more complicated.
 
Now that we've covered the basic job responsibilities of a dental hygienist, it's time to talk about the educational requirements and qualifications necessary to become one. In many states, entering the profession requires a degree from an accredited dental hygiene school (In addition, some states such as Florida may allow foreign-trained dentists to work as hygienists. This is an appealing career option for foreign-trained dentists, who otherwise can not obtain jobs as dentists in the US due to ADA regulations and restrictions on foreign-trained dentists.) Such training programs usually take two years to complete, and entrance requirements usually include a high school diploma and college entrance test scores. Specific entrance requirements vary highly between programs, and we recommend visiting the Web sites of various schools for more information.
 
As of 2010, there were 313 accredited entry-level dental hygiene education programs in the US. Most of these programs require successful completion of classes on general health-related science subjects such as anatomy, chemistry, histology, microbiology and dental instruments; as well as classes specializing on dental health subjects such as periodontology (study of gum diseases), clinical dental hygiene, dental materials and dental radiology.
 
After successful completion of an accredited dental hygienist education program, dental hygienists must be licensed by the state where they would like to practice. Almost all US states require candidates to graduate from an accredited school and pass both a written and clinical examination. The written examination is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations of ADA (American Dental Association).
 
The clinical examinations are usually administered by regional and state agencies, and some states might require additional written examinations as well. You can find more information on the national and state examinations on our certification information pages.