Dental hygienists take care of the dental hygiene of patients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2011, this is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. Let's look at the Job Outlook for a Career as a Dental Hygienist in greater detail.
Scope of Duty
A large part of the job of a dental hygienist is to teach patients about the importance and practice of good oral hygiene. To do this, they have to examine the teeth and gums of their patients, and it's also their job to record any disease or abnormality. Another aspect of their work is to remove soft and hard deposits in the patient's teeth. The scope of duty is different, according to the state where the person is practicing. For instance, some states allow them to remove sutures, carve and place temporary fills or filling materials while there may be restrictions in other states. A dental hygienist may show patients the right way to brush their teeth, how to select toothbrushes or explain how their diet can affect their dental health. In some cases, they may also function as dental assistants in dental clinics, supporting the dentists.
Education and Qualifications
The minimum qualification for a career as a dental hygiene is a degree from an accredited school and a license from the State where the person is practicing. Typically, aspiring students are required to have a high school diploma and they are expected to pass the college entrance exam before they are admitted into the college's dental hygiene program. Some of the recommended high school subjects are mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Some schools offer the 2-year associate degree in dental hygiene, and there are also schools that offer a 4-year bachelor's degree as well as the master's degree. Upon graduation, aspiring dental hygienists have to check with the State where they are practicing to find out about the licensing requirements. The written exam is administered by the American Dental Association's Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, and it's accepted by all the states, including the District of Columbia. After that, they will be tested on the legal aspects related to the practice, which is a requirement in most states.
The job outlook for dental hygienists is extremely bright. As dental health becomes more important, the need will increase, and with it, competition for jobs is anticipated in some areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that their employment growth is 36 percent up until the year 2018, which makes it one of the occupations with the fastest growth rates in the United States. Dental clinics are expected to employ more of them because they can help to promote dental health among patients, and they can assist dentists in various areas. In 2008, there were more than 174,000 jobs for them.