The career of a dental hygienist entails a variety of challenges and substantial responsibilities. Dental hygienists work, collectively with dentists, to satisfy the oral health needs of patients.
The general scope of practice permitted for hygienists include: removing tartar or plaque, applying sealants or fluorides to ensure protection, taking and analyzing dental radiographs, assessing the condition of a patient’s oral health, documenting treatment plans or reporting findings to dentists, and educating their patients on certain oral hygiene techniques that can be practiced (“Dental Hygienists: Career, Salary and Education Information – CollegeGrad. com”, 2016).
Dental hygienists may perform their duties in the office of a licensed dentist, in public health programs or department institutions such as the Department of Children and Family Services. Apart from the above stated general responsibilities of Dental hygienists, such other duties as restoring teeth, carrying out pulp treatments, adjusting unrestored surfaces, and extracting teeth are prohibited acts for dental hygienists. These, alongside other skills, are reserved specifically for trained orthodontic therapists, dental technicians, and general dentists (“Dental Hygienist”, 2016).
As a dental hygienist, it is also important to obtain and understand the professional and social expectations. Patients expect to be put in the hands of knowledgeable but also ethical professionals. With this in mind, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association has provided a Code of Ethics to set the behavioral standards for all dental hygienists. This code describes the following core values: autonomy, confidentiality, societal trust, no maleficence, beneficence, justice and fairness, and veracity. These requirements guarantee and ensure the professionalism of every hygienist by reinforcing acceptable behavioral conduct.
Violation of any values stated in the ADHA Code of Ethics will result in serious consequences (“Ethics in dental hygiene”, 2016). The admission requirements for the dental hygiene program differ depending on the school one is applying. Generally, applicants must be 18 years old and have earned a high school diploma or equivalent diploma and most programs show preference to students who have completed at least one year of college. Pre-requirements for the program include classes in biology, chemistry, math and health courses. Miami Dade and Broward College are two institutions that offer the Dental Hygiene Program.
The length of a dental hygiene program for an Associate’s Degree is two years. Miami Dade’s cost of tuition is $116. 22 per credit for in-state students and $400. 51 per credit for out-of-state students. The estimates for tuition based on 88 credits for in-state students: $10,227. 36 and out-of-state students: $35,244. 88 (“Medical Campus – School of Health Sciences”, 2016). Apart from tuition, students will spend a total of $5,200 which includes books, supplies, and lab fees required for the program. Miami Dade’s program will total up to an average of $15,500.
As for Broward college, tuition for in-state students is $ $8,924 and for out-of-state-student $28,239 (“Dental”, 2016). Books, supplies and lab fees total out to $5,200 which in total the program would cost about $14,200. The majority of dental hygiene programs are two year programs that provide graduates with associate degrees. However, universitybased programs may offer the opportunity to further gain a baccalaureate or master’s degree. In order to obtain these higher level degrees, at least two more years of schooling would be necessary. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education.
After completing the program, in order to become a licensed dental hygienist, graduates must successfully pass the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as the completion of a regional or state clinical board examination along with successful completion of a jurisprudence exam and proof of CPR certification (“Dental Hygienist Education and Training Requirements”, 2016). The job availability for upcoming dental hygienists in the United States is set at a high numerical value and is predicted to increase at a higher than average rate.
According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2014, there were approximately 200,500 jobs available for dental hygienists across the United States. From 2014-2024, the availability of job opportunities in dental hygiene is projected to increase by 19% therefore increasing the national numerical value by 37,400 available job (“Dental Hygienists : Occupational Outlook Handbook:: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics”, 2016). Dental Hygienist jobs are locally advertised in different newspapers such as Miami Herald or Sun Sentinel and average out to have about 10 job openings in Miami.
Most of the job openings require a minimum of one to two years’ experience in the job field especially for fast paced offices, most managers or owners of practices are looking for dental hygienists that would be able to handle the amount of clients on a daily basis. Although they are some job openings that do not require experience, which is where most starters will get their experience and might move on to a faster paced environment in the future. Entry-level dental hygienist take home approximately $30 per hour on average.
With accumulated cash compensation or bonuses, the salary can vary anywhere from $40,000 to $82,000. The average wage for an experienced dental hygienist is $34. 17 per hour (“Experienced Dental Hygienist Salary”, 2016). Total pay would range from $50,949 – $90,213 yearly. Advancement opportunities in the dental hygiene field would be to pursue continuing education such a gaining a bachelor or master degree. The fundamental purpose of a Master Degree is to aim in a different career path which include but are not limited to: education, healthcare, research and public health.
There are numerous local, state and National Professional Organizations in the Dental Hygienist field helping members with professional support, educational programs and many other services. A local organization is South Florida District Dental Association located in Coral gables with a fee of $75 a year for students. On the state level, Florida Dental Hygiene Association provides continuing educations and support programs with a student cost of $190 yearly (“Florida Dental Hygiene Association”, 2016). Last but not least, National Dental Hygiene Association and America Dental Association are two national level organizations.
The cost of ADA Is significantly high at $522 per year, where as NDHA is a total cost of $190 a year (“Join or Renew ADA Membership”, 2016). Along with different national professional organizations, a great way to stay up to date with news and updates is with professional journals. Dental Economics is the leading business journal for the dental profession, with insight on new dental products and technologies. Magazine subscriptions are free to dentists and select groups of dental professionals.
The journal headquarters is located in 1421 S. Sheridan Road, Tulsa, S. Oklahoma 74112(“Subscribe”, 2016). Another great magazine which is also located within the same address as DE is RDH, Registered Dental Hygienist, which provides dental hygienist important information of professional growth, continuing education opportunities and career strategies with a free subscription cost (“Subscribe”, 2016). Last but not least, the Journal of Dental Hygiene is an online only publication with a one year subscription cost at $60 which are located in 444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 3400, Chicago, IL 60611 (“JDH | ADHA – American Dental Hygienists Association”, 2016).
Florida laws require Dental Hygienist to complete 24 hours of continuing professional education for license renewal every two years. In addition to the 24 hours, each dental hygienist must complete a CPR course at the basic life support level. Furthermore, each person is required to complete no later than upon first licensure renewal a Board approved course on HIV and AIDS (“Statutes & Constitution: View Statutes: Online Sunshine”, 2016) Dental hygienists can gain continuing education requirements if they are interested.
ADHA is proud to offer a wide selection of convenient online continuing education courses in easy-to-use self-paced modules. Courses range from 2 to 4 CE units per course. (“CE Courses | ADHA – American Dental Hygienists Association”, 2016) After going to FIU and graduating with a bachelor in Business M anagement, I felt like the degree was just a piece of paper to me . I did not find passion in my career as a Manager so I decided to quit my job in order to find happiness in another fiel d. I gathered all my personality traits to see which career field would best suit me.
After numerous days of pondering and researching different careers, I realized a career in dental hygienist was perfect for me. I love working with people, and I am very comfortable with close personal interactions. With seven years of manager experience, I consider myself to be a great communicator who is easy to tal k to, trustworthy and able to help people in need. I believe those are very important trait to a successful dental hygienist. I am ve ry glad I finally found a career I see myself fitting in and cannot wait to see what is in store for me.
As of right now, I am taking the necessary prerequisites in order to submit my application before May of next year. My goal is to get accepted to the Miami Dade college program, but I might jus t apply to Broward College as well. Once I complete the program within 2 years, I will not waste any time and start applying to nu merous dental practices as well as state and federal governmen t facilities, hospitals and prisons. If I have the choice depending on the part time or full time offers, I will not limit myself only to dental offices and would definitely love the different experience of working in a correctional facility or hospital.