Because of the increasing demand for dental services, it is projected that the employment opportunity for dental hygienists will continue to rise by 36 percent within the next 10 years. This rapid growth places dental hygienists among one of the fastest rising professions in the whole nation. For the past 8 years, dental hygienists have held about 150,000 jobs and it is estimated that approximately 50,000 more jobs will be added to the field. Most dental hygienists work at a dental office and a few have entered the teaching profession. Furthermore, there are some that went to do research work or are practicing in public health agency programs.
The demand for dental care will continue to grow most especially when there is an increasing concern for preventive dental care in the society. There is also a greater demand among the elderly to retain more of their natural teeth. To meet these demands, dental facilities are employing large numbers of dental hygienists to perform dental services under the supervision of a dentist. As the demand for dental care continues to increase, dentists are bound to have multiple workloads. Therefore, more dentists are looking to employ additional dental hygienists to perform preventive care and other simple clinical procedures such as teeth cleaning. With the aid of dental hygienist, dentists have more time to concentrate on advanced and complex dental work. Furthermore, dentists who have several dental hygienists working in their dental offices are able to accommodate more patients thus helping boost the profits of their clinic.
Those who want to become dental hygienists must first graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school and pass a written and clinical examination administered by the American Dental Association Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations in order to obtain a license to work. The written examination covers the basic dental hygiene topics while the clinical examination will test the applicants their skills when performing hands-on procedures and it will also gauge how well they work with others.
Before becoming eligible to take the written and clinical examinations, students must first obtain their dental hygienist degree from an accredited dental hygiene school. Students may chose to get an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or a certificate. Typically, students pursue two-year or four-year dental hygiene programs. The two-year program grants an Associate’s degree while the four-year program awards a Bachelor’s degree. Those who want to work in private dental clinics must have at least an Associate’s degree in dental hygiene. However, students who would like to do research work, go into teaching or hold public health positions must possess a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
Since licensing requirements vary by states, it is best to contact the licensing authority in a given state for the specific licensing instructions and requirements. In some cases, other additional requirements for licensure include a proof of current CPR, letters of recommendations, official high school and college transcripts, and a criminal background screening.