Have you had your teeth cleaned recently? The second week of April is National Dental Hygienist Week. It’s a good reminder to call Lifetime Family Dental to schedule that cleaning and checkup appointment you may have been avoiding! There are many good reasons to have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year, but have you ever thought about what it takes to become a dental hygienist?
Not everyone can spend a day staring into someone’s mouth. A dental hygienist has to be a people-person first of all, with grace, compassion, and empathy. And they have to be a team player, working alongside a dentist to ensure the patient has all their oral health needs met. They also need to be conscientious and careful, because they work with sensitive tissue that requires a firm, but tender touch. Ideally, a dental hygienist will also have a natural curiosity and be able to engage a patient with interesting talk, as well as being avid learners and competent teachers. And of course, an interest in biology, health, and medicine is a must.
There are several educational avenues for dental hygienists, from community college programs, to full-on degrees from dental schools and universities. A community college program takes several years of study for an Associate degree that enables becoming a licensed hygienist in a dental office. A university degree can lead to teaching and research, as well as clinical practice in a public health program. Admission requirements to these degree programs favor a background in science and math.
Dental hygienists may have a wide range of duties in their normal everyday activities. Obvious medical responsibilities include charting blood pressure and pulse readings, assessment of oral health and oral cancer screenings. They also take dental x-rays and assist the dentist in many procedures. In addition to removing calculus and plaque from the teeth, the hygienist will also teach proper oral hygiene methods and counsel on nutrition that helps maintain good overall health. They may also be involved in clinic administration and management.
Dental hygienists have a lot of challenges and a lot of rewards. There is prestige and satisfaction from working in the medical field and helping people to experience better health. Creativity and flexibility are also aspects of the job that many hygienists find very rewarding. And there is job security. People will always have teeth that need the care of a dental hygienist.
So the next time you come in to Lifetime Family Dental for an appointment, be sure to tell your hygienist how much you appreciate the sacrifices he or she has made to help you keep your smile beautiful and healthy. Their training to become a dental hygienist has made the way for so many to experience optimum dental health! So we salute our dental hygienists and thank them for choosing this essential career in the field of dentistry. Well done!