Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Dental Hygienist
Becoming a dental hygienist is a great career choice for individuals who are interested in the field of dentistry and want to work directly with patients to improve their oral health. If you're considering this career path, this step by step guide will outline the steps you need to take to become a dental hygienist.
Step 1: Complete High School or Obtain a GED
The first step in becoming a dental hygienist is to complete high school or obtain a GED. Many dental hygiene programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, so it is important to have a solid educational foundation. Additionally, taking courses in biology, chemistry, and health science can help prepare you for the rigorous coursework you will encounter in dental hygiene school.
Step 2: Research Dental Hygiene Programs
Once you have completed high school or obtained a GED, the next step is to research dental hygiene programs. There are many different dental hygiene programs available, and it is important to choose a program that is accredited and offers the coursework and clinical experience you need to become a dental hygienist. You can research programs online, attend college fairs, or speak with a college advisor for more information about your options.
Step 3: Apply to Dental Hygiene Programs
Once you have researched dental hygiene programs, the next step is to apply to the programs that interest you. Each program will have its own application process, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully. You may need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores as part of your application.
Step 4: Complete Dental Hygiene Coursework
Once you have been accepted into a dental hygiene program, the next step is to complete the coursework. Dental hygiene programs typically take two to three years to complete, and they will include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. Coursework will include topics such as anatomy and physiology, dental materials, and radiography.
Step 5: Pass National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
Once you have completed your dental hygiene coursework, the next step is to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. This exam is required for licensure as a dental hygienist, and it will test your knowledge and skills in various areas, including patient care, infection control, and dental materials.
Step 6: Obtain Licensure
Once you have passed the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, the final step is to obtain licensure as a dental hygienist. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so be sure to check with your state board of dentistry for specific requirements. In general, you will need to provide proof of passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, proof of completion of a dental hygiene program, and proof of current CPR certification.
Step 7: Find a Job as a Dental Hygienist
Once you have obtained licensure as a dental hygienist, the final step is to find a job. Dental hygienists are in demand, and there are many job opportunities available in both private and public dental practices. You can search for job opportunities online, attend job fairs, or speak with a college career center for more information.
Additionally, continuing education is important for dental hygienists to stay up-to-date with the latest techniques, technologies, and advancements in the field. You can take continuing education courses, attend workshops and conferences, or participate in professional organizations to expand your knowledge and skills.
Working as a dental hygienist can be a challenging and rewarding experience. You will have the opportunity to educate patients on the importance of oral health and make a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. With hard work, dedication, and a passion for helping others, you can become a successful and fulfilled dental hygienist.
In summary, becoming a dental hygienist requires completion of high school or obtaining a GED, researching and applying to dental hygiene programs, completing coursework and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, obtaining licensure, and finding a job. With a commitment to your education and career, you can take the steps necessary to achieve your goal of becoming a dental hygienist.