Dental Hygienist in North Carolina
Individuals interesting in working in the dental field may choose to become a dental hygienist in North Carolina. A dental hygienist is someone who works in conjunction with a dentist in helping to promote good oral hygiene, as well as instructing patients on preventative measures in order to maintain good oral health.
A hygienist is required to obtain a license prior to practicing in a dental office or clinic and is employed by the head dentist in charge of the facility in which they work. A dental hygienist has numerous job responsibilities and is a very important part of a dental team.
There are many important factors to research if you are interesting in becoming a dental hygienist in North Carolina. You must investigate dental hygienist programs or dental hygienist schools in your area, and you may also wish to learn more about what is dental hygienist and the associated duties they perform.
Rules and regulations do vary pertaining to what duties a hygienist is able to perform within the office setting by State or location, and in some cases are they certified to administer local anesthesia to patients in preparation for oral procedures.
Dental Hygienist - Job Responsibilities
The most common job duty performed by a hygienist is to clean a patient’s teeth. In the process of a thorough cleaning, the hygienist will look for indications of any presence of oral disease. Oral diseases can lead to further complications if not treated properly.
Oral diseases can include cavities and tooth decay, excess plaque that can spread bacteria, gum diseases such as gingivitis, or even oral cancer. A dental hygienist course will at some point train a dental hygienist the signs and indications of any oral diseases.
A licensed hygienist will also be trained to clean and remove plaque, tartar or stains from a patient’s teeth, administer fluoride treatments for future protection and cavity prevention, and will also be in charge of taking x-ray and developing x-rays as necessary.
Additional responsibilities will be to handle a patient’s medical record, record work completed, initiate and follow up with treatment planning, and instruct a patient in good oral hygiene which may include flossing and brushing demonstrations.
There are many different dental tools that are used by a hygienist. These tools are referred to as power tools and consist of a polishing device which is used to polish and clean a patient’s teeth. Some tools are not run by power and are used to clean teeth manually.
As mentioned above, a hygienist will also be responsible for taking dental x-rays, and should be able to determine what, if any, work needs to be performed on each patient. All of these duties will be under the supervision of the head dentist.
In some States, a hygienist is approved and licensed to give a patient a filling or perform some of the duties associated with other dental procedures; however this does vary by area.
Because some patients are nervous or afraid to receive dental care, a hygienist should be able to effectively calm and comfort a patient and give them as pleasant an experience as possible when receiving dental care.
A hygienist will perform their job duties using protective gear in order to protect the patient as well as themselves. Gloves are regularly worn, in addition to surgical masks and protective glasses when using certain tools.
Dental Hygienist in North Carolina Requirements
The requirements for becoming a dental hygienist vary by State; however all hygienists are required to be licensed by the State in which they reside to practice. All programs must be accredited by the American Dental Association.
If you are interested in becoming a hygienist straight out of high school, you should focus on courses in mathematics, chemistry and biology in preparation. Many facilities or programs may require additional schooling with up to one year of college necessary to enroll.
In most cases, a hygienist will need an Associate Degree (minimum of two years) in order to be able to gain employment. Some hygienists do hold a Bachelors or Masters Degree; however this is not mandatory to work in this field unless you intend in teaching facility, in which case it may be required.
The dental hygiene Associate in Applied Science program consists of completion and passing of the Clinical State Board Examination and National Boards. Both of these examinations must be passed in order to be licensed.
A majority of hygienist programs instruct in classroom, clinical and laboratory settings. You can expect to cover general courses in algebra, chemistry, and biology.
Additional courses in human and oral anatomy, radiography study, physiology, science, pharmacology, and nutrition, which is important in good oral health, are also covered.
Hygienist Job Outlook/Environment
Dental hygienist jobs are in high demand currently in the United States and this has been the case for many years. Statistics show an expected growth of above 35% within the next 8 years. This can be attributed to the overall need for consistent preventative dental care.
Furthermore, innovative techniques are being used more and more in the dental field allowing for patients to have a less painful or frightening experience which in turn brings recurrent visits to the office.
Practicing in dental clinics, you can expect to sometimes work long hours and possibly be on your feet for long periods of time. Many hygienists do work a full-time schedule; however quite a few work part-time as well.
Most dental clinics choose to pay light or comforting music for the patients, and are kept very clean secondary to requirements by law and codes.
Dental Hygienist Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for a hygienist in the year 2010 was $68,250. This salary can vary depending on State or location. In addition, a hygienist can work on an hourly basis.
In many cases, the hygienist employed and their family may receive free dental work as a benefit of employment. As with many occupations, some may receive other benefits, be enrolled in a retirement plans and receive paid vacation time.
Dental Hygienist Summary
If you are interested in becoming a dental in the State in which you live, you will first need to be licensed. The requirements for licensing vary, however; mostly require an Associate’s Degree or higher, which is a minimum of 2 years for completion.
Any individual pursuing a hygienist license may check with their State for any financial aid that may be available to them, and well as scholarships that sometimes are offered.
The outlook and job security for this field is very promising and is expected to grow over the next several years, and the salary for a licensed hygienist is very competitive for this area of health care.
Finally, it is very important that you research your local State rules and regulation regarding what is required of you to become a dental hygienist in North Carolina.