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Nurture a Healthy Career with a Health and Dental Associate's Degree

Earning a health and dental associate's degree can help you begin a career as a dental hygienist. The duties of a dental hygienist include scaling and cleaning teeth, applying fluoride and other solutions to teeth and gums, and helping to educate patients about good oral care.

  • Dental hygienists with one to four years experience earn a median hourly rate of $30.63, according to PayScale.
  • Health and dental associate's degree programs can usually be completed in about two years.
  • As dental treatments continue to advance and more people seek ongoing dental care, the job outlook for dental hygienists is expected to stay strong as hygienists are needed to care for those patients.

What do Dental Hygienists Do?

If you're thinking about a career as a dentail hygienist, it's important to know a bit more about what they do on a daily basis.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Dental hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventive dental care. They examine patients' teeth and gums, recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities."  They work closely with dentists, often working "chair-side" with the practicing dentist while he or she is treating a patient.  If you're sensitive to germs and close contact with patients, this may not be the job for you.  Dental hygienists are required to wear surgical masks, glasses and gloves during treatments for their own safety, as well as for the patient's safety. 

According to Deborah Hartley, RDH, "Dental Hygiene is more than mere production numbers, oral hygiene instruction, and cleaning teeth. This department benefits the entire practice. Hygienists are clinicians, psychologists, educators, producers, managers, marketers, advertisers, and salespeople."

Scholarship Opportunities for Dental Hygienists in Training

The ADHA Institute for Oral Health offers scholarships to dental hygiene students who are looking for some financial assistance on the path to achieving their career goals.  Be sure to research these scholarship opportunities when you're considering various dental hygiene programs at each school.  Remember--the squeaky wheel gets the oil!




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