Dental hygienist assistant jobs: New matching tools help dental hygienists shine

As stated by the U.S's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are roughly 200,000 dental hygienists working in the country today. The bureau projects a 20% employment growth for dental hygienists, from the year 2016 to 2026.  During that period, about 40, 900 jobs are expected to open up. 

What’s more; a few years back, a Money-U.S. News & World Report ranked dental hygienist at number 2 for best health care support careers and in the top third of the “best hundred jobs” in America. However, even with all those promising projections and statistics, many people may not fully appreciate the responsibilities associated with this profession.

What do dental hygiene assistant jobs entail?

Dental hygienist assistant jobs entail a high degree of patient interaction. Normally, they (hygienist) provide educational, therapeutic, preventive, and clinical dental care to the public.

While laws and regulations may differ from state to state, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), specify that a registered dental hygienist (RDH) can also administer anesthetics during operations, apply sealant and fluoride operations, and guide patients in regards to making healthier oral choices. 

You might be wondering if dental hygienists are only limited to working in dental offices and clinics. The truth is; the opportunities are almost endless for people looking for hygiene assistant jobs.  Nowadays, hygienists are also needed outside clinical practices. 

For instance, RDHs are allowed to become geriatric caregivers or even insurance claims representatives. Additionally, they can work in the community or public healthcare centers, educational facilitates, corporate dental businesses, research centers, and hospitals. In other words, as long as you are licensed oral health care professional, you are almost guaranteed of a job.

A typical day for a dental hygienist

A dental hygienist assistant, working in a specialty or private practice, on average sees between 6 to 10 patients per day. And since most dental hygienists practice in a general clinical setting, the patients may vary in terms of age, from senior citizens to infants. A dental receptionist usually works just as long,

Despite the nature of one’s appointment, a hygienist must be prepared to examine each patient for conditions such as dental decay, oral cancer, and gingivitis. Most notably, he or she should also provide each patient with a personalized treatment plan for maintaining or improving oral hygiene at home. 

What kind of education does a dental hygienist assistant need?

An RDH needs a great background in the biological sciences, communication, and social sciences. Colleges across the U.S offer varying levels of education, although the majority of dental hygiene programs offer an associate’s degree. That said; bachelor's’ degree or even master’s degrees are available, especially for those who wish to further their careers.

Note; currently, there are over 330 dental hygiene programs offered in America. Usually, it takes 2-3 years of coursework to gain the entry-level skills essential to apply for licensure. 

Getting registered with a dental association

To obtain licensure in America, a dental hygienist assistant must graduate from an institution recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Meaning, the institution conforms to specific regulations set by CODA to appropriately train each student who sign-ups for the program. In most states, eventually, these students are needed to complete clinical boards on a live patient and pass written boards examinations, before they get registered.  

The current state of the dental hygiene field

1. Growing employment

As we mentioned earlier, dental hygiene is an industry which the BLS projects to grow at a faster rate than average. Besides the attractive entry-level wages, the work is consistent, and usually with flexible hours for professionals who prefer to work part-time.

2. New workplaces

There are growing opportunities for hygienists. The ADHA forecasts more jobs for hygienists to be added into retail locations, community centers, and generally within healthcare organizations.  

3. Expanded employment opportunities

Continuing education opens possibilities in dental hygiene research, education, technology, administration and practice advancement. Basically, there are numerous resources to address multiple job opportunities and plan further education goals. 

4. New markets

The rise of the cosmetic industry is creating fresh opportunities for hygienists to obtain different forms of licensure. According to ADHA, dental implants alone are projected to be a global sector of $3 billion. Dental hygiene assistants interested in getting new certifications can opt to join this market, among other specializations.   

5. Dental educator sector

According to a report published in the year 2000 by the American Association of Dental Schools (AADS), there will be a scarcity of dental hygiene educators in the near future. This is simply because of the anomalous demand for dental hygiene associate degree programs and the current educators retiring. Any oral health care professional, therefore, with work experience and a higher degree is better placed to find work in this field, in the long run nurturing a future generation of dental hygiene assistants.   

A little advice from the dental hygiene field

One thing to remember when talking about the dental hygiene field is that different states have different regulations for practicing or operating. What’s the norm in California may not be the same in Texas. Advisably, make an effort of researching the laws in your state before applying for dental hygienist job. 

Ready to get started?

The demand for hygienists isn’t going down any time soon. If you wish, therefore, to find a rewarding and potentially lucrative opportunity, get started today by creating a free profile on Cloud Dentistry - a cloud-based job matching platform which guarantees you control over your wages, schedule, and work environment. At Cloud Dentistry, we know how to support you in ways no other dental hygienist temp agency can. All the best as you take this important step in your job search endeavours!

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Trey Tepichin graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in biology and economics and a minor in chemistry. He went on to obtain his J.D. from Harvard Law School. While in law school, he taught two years of introductory micro- and macro-economics at Harvard and was awarded with three Certificates of Distinction in Teaching.

A successful commercial and securities litigator in Boston for nearly ten years, Trey secured numerous multimillion-dollar victories for his clients, which included everything from pharmaceutical companies to individual investors to manufacturers. As a lawyer and economist, Trey understands the intricacies of creating new markets, handling employment matters and maximizing business efficiencies.

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