Dental Hygienist

hygnHave you ever thought of becoming a dental hygienist? According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook over the past few years the job outlook for dental hygienists has been better than average. What does a dental hygienists job consists of, you might wonder. If so, read on as your Des Moines Dentist, Dr. Stephen Burds explains the role of a dental hygienist and what you need to do to become one.

What Hygienists Do

You are probably aware that it is a dental hygienist that cleans your teeth. That is not all hygienists do, however. Besides cleaning teeth and sterilizing their room and tools in between patients, while hygienists are up close and personal with your oral cavity, they are examining your mouth for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis and cancer. Hygenists also educate patients regarding proper brushing techniques and ways to improve and maintain good oral health, which are all ways of providing preventative dental care.


Typically, to become a dental hygienist you need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Dental hygienists are required to be licensed by the state they are practicing in, and each state has different requirements. A two year degree from a dental hygienists school typically includes courses on the following:

  • Oral anatomy
  • General anatomy
  • Pharmacology (the study of medications)
  • Material Science (the study of the physical and chemical properties of various materials)
  • Nutrition
  • Periodontology (the study of the supporting structures of the teeth and the diseases that affect them)
  • Clinical Studies: (how medicines and medical treatments work in various people)

Four to six years of training is required to become a specialized dental hygienist, and recently, The American Dental Hygienists’ Association incorporated a new, higher level degree–the Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner.

Personality Traits

The following traits are needed to become a successful dental hygienist:

  • Strong people skills
  • Excellent fine motor skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Continual learning
  • Strong study skill

About your Des Moines Dentist

Contact your Des Moines dentist by calling Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9565. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.