Dental Hygiene

The Dental Hygiene Profession

Dental hygienists are licensed oral health professionals who focus on preventing and treating oral diseases in order to protect the oral cavity, and also to protect the patients' total health. They are graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs in colleges and universities, and must pass a written national board examination and a clinical examination to obtain state licensure.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 36 percent through 2018. This projected growth ranks dental hygienists among the fastest growing occupations, in response to increasing demand for dental care and more use of hygienists. Population growth and greater retention of natural teeth will stimulate demand for dental hygienists. Older dentists, who have been less likely to employ dental hygienists, are leaving the occupation and will be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to employ one or even two hygienists. In addition, as dentists' workloads increase, they are expected to hire more hygienists to perform preventative dental care, such as cleaning, so that they may devote their own time to more profitable procedures http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos097.htm.

Future Outlook

Job prospects are expected to be favorable, but will vary by geographical location. Because graduates are permitted to practice only in the State in which they are licensed, hygienists wishing to practice in areas that have an abundance of dental hygiene programs may experience strong competition for jobs.

Older dentists, who have been less likely to employ dental hygienists, are leaving the occupation and will be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to employ one or more hygienists. In addition, as dentists' workloads increase, they are expected to hire more hygienists to perform preventive dental care, such as cleaning, so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos097.htm#outlook

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