A dental hygienist holds up a toothbrush and a pair of fake teeth

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Dental Hygienist

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Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care in various forms.

They may clean teeth and they may examine the patient's mouth for signs of tooth decay and other problems. Dental hygienists may also be responsible for providing services like whitening teeth and taking x-rays. They are expected to communicate with their patients and to advise them on different aspects of oral health.

Pro: Pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for dental hygienists in 2012 was over $70,000. In other words, full-time dental hygienists can make more than various other professions, including teachers and police officers.

Con: Relative Salary

Compared with others in the dental field, dental hygienists are not as highly paid. The median salary for dentists is just under $150,000 per year; dental hygienists’ salary is about half of that.

Pro: Employability

The BLS estimated that the employment of dental hygienists will increase by 38% between 2010 and 2020, which is a faster rate than the average across most other occupations. The need to have teeth cleaned will always exist, which means there should always be work available for those in the profession.

Con: Repetitive Work

The work of a dental hygienist is highly repetitive. While constantly doing the same tasks over and over can help an individual to get better at them, some may find the lack of variety to be monotonous.

Pro: Short Training Time

In order to become a qualified dental hygienist, an individual needs only a certificate or an associate's degree. This means that training can be completed in only a few months. After completing their training, dental hygienists need licenses to operate within their respective states.

Con: Occasionally Unpleasant Work

The job may involve dealing with patients who are terrified of dental work, or who have severe and unpleasant dental issues. Dental hygienists may also have to clean up bodily fluids in addition to dealing with bad breath and advanced tooth decay.

Pro: Working with People

Dental hygienists get to interact with their patients, which is a bonus for people who enjoy meeting and helping others.

Pro: Flexible Schedule

Dental hygienists have the option to work full-time or part-time. This makes it relatively easy to handle other obligations such as family or school. Despite the downsides, you can have a rewarding career in this field as long as you know what to expect. You should look carefully at the pros and cons in order to decide if this is really the job for you.

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