What is a dental hygienist?
Dental hygienists are licensed oral health professionals who focus on preventing and treating oral diseases - both to protect teeth and gums, and also to protect patients’ total health. They are graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs in colleges and universities, and must take written and clinical exams before they are allowed to practice. In addition to treating patients directly, dental hygienists also work as educators, researchers, and administrators.
What duties do dental hygienists perform?
Each state has its own specific regulations and the range of services performed by dental hygienists vary from one state to another. As part of the dental hygiene services, dental hygienists may:
- Perform oral health care assessments that include reviewing patients’ health history, dental charting, oral cancer screening, and taking and recording blood pressure;
- Expose, process, and interpret dental X-rays;
- Remove plaque and calculus (tartar)-soft and hard deposits-from above and below the gumline;
- Apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth;
- Teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums;
- Counsel patients about plaque control and developing individualized at-home oral hygiene programs; and
- Counsel patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining optimal oral health.
What are the risks of exposure?
Individuals who are involved in the provision of dental hygiene services may be exposed to blood borne pathogens that may result in human disease.
What is the outlook for future employment?
- Projected to be one of the 10 fastest growing occupations requiring an associate degree
- Flexible work schedules are often available in this high demand field
- Dental hygiene offers excellent career opportunities for nontraditional students (including individuals who are over 23 years of age, those seeking a career change or reentry and individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds)
- Compensation depends on responsibilities, geographic location and other factors.
How many apply to the program each year?
Typically 95-130 applicants
How many students are accepted each year?
If I do not get accepted the first year, will I be on a waiting list?
No, but you may reapply as many times as you like.
If I retake a course to get a better grade, which grade will count toward the points?
The higher grade will be used, but there will be point deductions. There will be a one point deduction for a repeated science course, EXCEPT a science grade that was taken over 5 years ago, and a half point deduction for a general education course.
What is a typical salary for a dental hygienist?
The salary of a dental hygienist depends primarily upon the responsibilities associated with the specific position, the geographic location of employment and the type of practice or other setting in which the hygienist works. Hygienists earn salaries equal to other health care personnel with similar educational backgrounds and experience. Dental hygienists are considered an integral part of the dental team providing educational and preventive services to ensure delivery of long-term oral health.
Yearly Average: Range Statewide - according the the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (Texas) $53,160 to $91,350.
How do I get registered as a dental assistant?
You must pass infection control, radiology, and jurisprudence exams administered by a State Board approved provider. If you are interested in taking the dental assisting course and exam the TJC Department of Continuing Studies offers a 10 week course three times per year.
Contact the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners for further information.