Dental Hygienist Technician: Pathways, Salary, Skills, Opportunities

What is a Dental Hygienist Technician?

Dental hygienist technicians play a vital role in dental offices by assisting dentists during exams and procedures. They help provide cleanings, education, and other preventative dental care to patients. If you're interested in healthcare and dentistry, a career as a dental hygienist tech may be very rewarding. Here's an overview of this growing field.

Dental Hygienist Technician

Dental Hygienist Tech Career Path

The first step to becoming a dental hygienist tech is completing an accredited dental assisting program. These are usually 1-2 year programs offered at community colleges and technical schools. Coursework covers dental procedures, tools, patient communication, radiography, and lab work. After graduating, you'll need to pass a Dental Assisting National Board exam to earn certification for expanded dental assisting duties.

With certification, dental hygienist techs can find employment in private dental offices, clinics, and hospitals. You may focus on clinical assisting, lab work, or office administration duties. With further education and licensing, experienced dental hygienist technicians can sometimes advance to become dental hygienists.

Education and Licensing Requirements

To work as a dental assistant, graduates of an accredited program must pass the DANB exam for Certified Dental Assistant certification. Some states also require registration, which involves passing a state exam. These requirements allow dental assistants to take x-rays, help with anesthetics, and perform other expanded duties.

To provide dental hygiene services like teeth cleanings, you need to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene and obtain a state license. Hygienists require more education and qualifications than dental assistants.

Dental Hygienist Tech Salary

$60,000 and $80,000 per year.

Recommended Reading

  • Modern Dental Assisting by Doni L. Bird and Debbie S. Robinson - Comprehensive guide covering dental anatomy, procedures, and more.
  • Review Questions and Answers for Dental Assisting by Betty Ladley Finkbeiner - Helpful for studying for the DANB certification exams.
  • Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice by Michele Leonardi Darby - Foundational textbook for dental hygiene students and hygienists.

Key Topics to Study

Aspiring dental hygienist technicians should master topics like:

  • Dental anatomy, physiology, and terminology
  • Infection control procedures
  • Chairside assisting skills
  • Dental lab materials and procedures
  • Dental radiography
  • Taking patient medical histories
  • Office administration skills

Clinical experience is also essential for reinforcing classroom knowledge.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist Technician

In summary, you can launch a dental hygienist tech career by:

  • Earning a dental assisting certificate or degree
  • Gaining certification through the DANB exams
  • Checking state licensing or registration requirements
  • Completing on-the-job training or externships
  • Developing your patient care and communication abilities
  • Researching openings and applying for dental hygienist tech jobs

With proper training and dedication, you can begin working in this growing field.

Top Programs and Colleges

Highly regarded dental hygienist technician programs include:

  • New York University Dental Hygiene Program
  • University of Michigan Dental Hygiene Program
  • West Coast University Dental Hygiene School
  • Carrington College Dental Assisting Program
  • Remington College Dental Assisting Diploma Program

Seek out accredited programs that offer quality hands-on training and job placement assistance.

Applying for Dental Hygienist Tech Jobs

When applying for dental hygienist technician jobs, highlight your education, certification, manual dexterity, attention to detail, and interest in delivering excellent dental care. With the right training and persistence, you can get your foot in the door with an entry-level dental assisting or hygiene job. From there, you can gain experience and work towards advancing your dental hygienist technician career.