Career Tracks: Dental Hygiene

This program teaches students the principles of preventive oral care. 

They will learn how to teach self care to patients and how to examine a patient's head and neck area for abnormal health status. Other areas will include nutritional counseling, application of sealants on grooves of patients' teeth, producing diagnostically acceptable intraoral radiographs (x-rays) and scaling procedures to remove deposits from patients' teeth.

Duties

Graduates in this field may be required to:

  • provide patient education: design preventive strategies; set goals to motivate patients
  • perform patient care: scaling, polishing, processing x-rays
  • refer patient to dentist for further examination
  • assist dentist in treatment of patient:
    • prepare solutions and mixtures
    • sterilize and set up equipment
       

Working Conditions

Graduates in this field commonly experience:

  • work in dentists' offices (usually pleasant surroundings)
  • work in cooperation with others
  • work under little direct supervision
  • overtime sometimes required
  • work on a schedule
     

Physical Demands

  • mildly active (some standing and moving around)
  • light lifting (up to 20 lbs)
     

Characteristics & Temperament

Graduates in this field should have:

  • ability to work in very close proximity with a variety of people
  • good social skills
  • ability to be a "team player"
  • patience, sensitivity, pleasantness
  • excellent oral communication skills
  • good written communication skills
  • ability to adapt and "catch on" quickly
  • ability to reason and make judgments
  • ability to understand machines - how they work
  • good motor coordination (hand/eye coordination, accurate and swift movement, finger/manual dexterity)
  • self-discipline/self-motivation
     

Employment Outlook

Graduates in this field can expect the following developments:

  • salary average: $36,940.00 per year according to the US Department of Labor. You may view the most current Occupational Outlook statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm.
  • full- or part-time available
  • bachelor's degree allows advancement into teaching
  • employment in cities and towns of all sizes

 

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