A dental hygienist provides various dental treatments and other oral care to dental patients. The duties of a dental hygienist can vary from the routine to the extraordinary. Sometimes they change depending on the setting. Private practices, hospitals, dental hygiene schools, and the military are a few of the many dental hygienist jobs that are available.
In general, duties can include cleaning and polishing teeth, removing plaque on teeth and below the gum line, taking dental histories, charting decay and disease for the dentist to review, conducting dental x-rays, and screening patients for signs of oral cancer. Other responsibilities of the dental hygienist include making impressions or molds of teeth, educating patients on the correct procedures for good oral health, and applying anti-cavity agents to teeth, such as sealants. In some areas, the dental hygienist may be in charge of controlling the pain of the patient and other restorative procedures.
Depending on the location where the dental hygienist practices, she may either work under the supervision of a dentist, with minimal supervision, or without a dentist’s supervision. For example, in some areas, a dental hygienist can perform her duties in a nursing home setting with minimal supervision. In fact, dental hygienist jobs in many state-run institutions do not require much supervision at all.
Dental hygienist jobs are most common in private offices. Those hygienists usually work for a single dentist or for a larger number of dentists as part of a group practice. Many other dental hygienist jobs can be found in the dental departments of hospitals, community agencies, health maintenance organizations, primary and secondary schools, dental schools, and the military. A dental hygienist simply needs to explore the options that work best with her schedule, lifestyle, and preferences and then apply to those dental hygienist jobs accordingly.
The World Health Organization and the Peace Corps offer plenty of dental hygienist jobs abroad. Although not high-paying jobs, accepting such a position can be a rewarding experience. New areas of the world can be explored and even one dental hygienist can provide life-altering care to areas of the world where dental care is a luxury. To apply for such a job, she must go through the proper channels with each organization, filling out paperwork and conducting interviews.
Other dental hygienist jobs may require additional educational and work experience beyond that of a typical dental hygienist. For example, jobs as researchers, consultants, educators, and administrators are all potential positions that a dental hygienist can take. Such dental hygienist jobs are usually held at a university or dental college.