Q&A: DENTAL HYGIENIST/DENTAL STUDENTS PLEASE ANSWER!?

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Question by Jessica: DENTAL HYGIENIST/DENTAL STUDENTS PLEASE ANSWER!?
Im going to school in a couple of months to become a dental hygienist and I have some questions I would like to be answered so i know more about everything. Ive done research, but id reallly like real feedback. I just want answers from dental hygiene students and people who are already hygienists please. The questions are out of order. And the state i live in is florida.

1. How long does it take to graduate, and be certified? (including prerequisites and dental school)
2. How hard is it to get into the dental hygiene program?
3. After graduating how long does it usually take to find a job? and does the school help you find one?
4. How much do you start out getting paid a hour? (I live in fl)
5. Do you get over all the gross stuff? (im not that easily grossed out though)
6. When you do find a job does the office train you more when you get there, or do you have
to shadow someone? or do they just throw you into it?
7. It seems like most places want to hire you for 2 or 3 days, is that enough to have a comfortable living? and how hard is it to find a full time office?
8. What is dental school like?
9. Does dental school completely prepare you for the real job?
10. Are you respected in the team as a hygienist?
11. Is this career satisfying? Like as in pay and time off wise?
12. What are some extra classes i can take when i graduate that can possibly help make my
pay better and help me with more education?
13. What are the pros/cons of this career?
14. Is there anything i can do right now that will kinda get me ready for dental school while im
getting my prereqs?

Is there anything else you can add to help me as a student or anything i need to know
about this career?

Also, i know a lot of questions are money based, but i really love this career and want to become this, but the money is a big factor as well.

Thank you so much!!!!
also, do you have to have perfect teeth to be a dental hygienist?

Best answer:

Answer by Almost Marathe
Hi –

I can’t tell you about FL specifically, but in general -
1. It’s usually a 2 year program in a community college (and the summer between). A lot of people do it in 3 years, though, and get all the electives & pre-reqs out of the way in the 1st year, so they can concentrate on their DH classes without extra work in English, psych, etc. I did it in 2 years, and drove myself nuts with all the studying and pressure.
2. You need to have a somewhat decent average – the DH programs are getting pretty competitive now. It depends on the school – where will you be going – have you been accepted into the “re-hygiene” program, or anything like that?
3. The school usually has a placement program, but you won’t have trouble finding something on your own. The job market was over-saturated for a while, but I watch the craigslist ads, and more and more jobs are appearing. As the economy improves, things will get better. A great way to start out is to register with a temp agency (make sure YOU do not pay the fee, but rather, the employer). You can get $ 300/day easy (at least here in NY) for temping at a moment’s notice. A dentist will have a whole day of hygoene booked, and the hygienist calls in sick, and he’ll pay you very nicely rather than having to cancel the whole day’s hygiene app’ts and lose a lot of money. Also, this way you make contacts with the dentists in your area and get to know them.
4. I have no idea what the hourly rate is in FL – it’ll be more in a big city, of course. We can get $ 45 -$ 50/hour here in NY.
5. It’s not gross. I love scraping all that calculus off. I get a real rush, especially when I take the Cavitron to the lingual of the lower anteriors, and a whole, solid bridge of calculus comes off. You get to really like this. There’s a lot of blood involved, but you get used to that quickly – just have them rinse a lot, or if you’re using the Cavitron, the water and saliva ejector will take it.
6. Nope – no training or shadowing. Here’s your operatory, here’s your schedule and charts, here are the instruments, and here comes your first patient!
7. Again, this depends on the area (and the current economy). Working for a periodontist, you can get a full week, but you may (when starting out) have to pick up 2 days here, and 3 days there. It’s not too bad to work part-time in 2 offices – I did that when I first graduated – except there are no benefits. (bad part).
8. Well, it’s not dental school (that’s for people studying to be dentists), but DH school is a lot of hard work, but you’ll learn SO much, and make so many friends. It’s good to form little study groups, maybe 4 or 5 girls, that you hang with on a regular basis. You can get together when you have a big test coming up, and you’d be surprised how much easier you’ll remember things for your test. And you’ll have to friends to bitch to, etc. Hopefully, your school will be able to book your Clinic patients for you. We had to get our own patients, and if I had a last minute cancellation, I’d run through the cafeteria or halls, yelling, “Who wants a free cleaning? Right NOW!”
9. Clinically, pretty much. You need to learn how to get along with dentists, though. I was a dental assistant for a lot of years before I went back for DH, so I had no trouble with that. They are picky perfectionists and need careful handling. You’ll catch on.
10. Respect – definitely. Next to the dentist, you are respected the most, and paid the most among the staff. Don’t forget, you are generating a lot of income for the practice.
11. Pay is great. Where else can you get $ 50/hour for a 2 year degree? As far as time off, in a dental office, though, you usually need to plan your vacations when the dentist takes his, though.
12. You will need to take a certain amount of CE to renew your FL license – I’m not that familiar with Fl, again – but whenever there are meetings, etc, go to them, and see if the dentist will pick up the fee for any seminars that charge. Some people think that getting a bachelor’s after their associate’s will help, but that’s pretty useless in a dental office. No dentist pays more for that. It’s useful if you plan to teach, or go into research or PR for Colgate, etc. (To be continued..)

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