College Resources

Career Tracks: Dental Hygiene

This program teaches students the principles of preventive oral care. 

They will learn how to teach self care to patients and how to examine a patient's head and neck area for abnormal health status. Other areas will include nutritional counseling, application of sealants on grooves of patients' teeth, producing diagnostically acceptable intraoral radiographs (x-rays) and scaling procedures to remove deposits from patients' teeth.

Duties

Graduates in this field may be required to:

  • provide patient education: design preventive strategies; set goals to motivate patients

  • perform patient care: scaling, polishing, processing x-rays

  • refer patient to dentist for further examination

  • assist dentist in treatment of patient:
         prepare solutions and mixtures
         sterilize and set up equipment
     

Working Conditions

Graduates in this field commonly experience:

  • work in dentists' offices (usually pleasant surroundings)

  • work in cooperation with others

  • work under little direct supervision

  • overtime sometimes required

  • work on a schedule
     

Physical Demands

  • mildly active (some standing and moving around)

  • light lifting (up to 20 lbs)
     

Characteristics & Temperament

Graduates in this field should have:

  • ability to work in very close proximity with a variety of people

  • good social skills

  • ability to be a "team player"

  • patience, sensitivity, pleasantness

  • excellent oral communication skills

  • good written communication skills

  • ability to adapt and "catch on" quickly

  • ability to reason and make judgments

  • ability to understand machines - how they work

  • good motor coordination (hand/eye coordination, accurate and swift movement, finger/manual dexterity)

  • self-discipline/self-motivation
     

Employment Outlook

Graduates in this field can expect the following developments:

  • salary average: $34,500 per year according to the US Department of Labor. You may view the most current Occupational Outlook statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm.

  • full- or part-time available

  • bachelor's degree allows advancement into teaching

  • employment in cities and towns of all sizes