Variously referred to as a dental hygienist, a dental nurse works in a dentist’s offices providing preventive care education and teeth cleaning services. The tasks that they perform may vary from state to state but can include applying sealants, taking x-rays, removing sutures, and administering anesthesia. Many hours spent leaning or standing over patients are often required. Some dental practitioners tend to hire dental hygienists or nurses part-time but many of these professionals who wish to work on a full-time basis should not have a problem finding employment.
Requirements for a career as a dental nurse include completing an accredited bachelor’s or associate degree or certificate program in dental hygiene and getting licensed. Below, therefore, we take a look at a guide to becoming a dental nurse in the U.S. as follows:
For a quick rundown, you can see this video:
Step 1: Completing prerequisites for Dental School
Completing high school or its equivalent is a prerequisite for getting admitted to most dental schools. Some programs may also require at least one year of college coursework in social sciences, chemistry, speech, and English and/or college entrance exam scores. Applicable prerequisite courses in high school include biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
Step 2: Completing a program in Dental Hygiene
The minimum qualification necessary for working in a private dental office is a 2 or 3-year associate degree. The program usually includes coursework and clinical practical sessions, with courses covering topics such as periodontics, oral anatomy, oral pathology, radiology, and nutrition.
Step 3: Obtaining Licensure
All aspiring dental nurses need to be licensed before they can seek employment. Licensure requirements consist of satisfactorily completing an educational program and consequently passing 3 examinations that are administered by the American Dental Association as well as practical exams administered by the region or state in which the potential candidates reside. Upon satisfying these requirements, and any others that may be imposed by an individual state, candidates can then apply to become licensed dental nurses in that state.
Step 4: Applying for a Dental Hygienist’s position
Since many dentists such as BC Soft Touch Dental only need dental nurses on a part-time basis, many either work for more than one dentist or on a part-time basis. In addition, although experience is not really necessary in this position, some employers prefer or at least require that job applicants have at least a year of experience. As a result, those with even a little experience, say from a school program, are likely to have a better chance of being hired than those with none.
Step 5: Joining a professional organization
Aspiring dental nurses who wish to further their careers should consider joining professional organizations e.eg. the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) which offers members educational and professional services, as well as access to networking opportunities and career centers for career advancement and professional growth. Here, Sara B. from BC Soft Touch Dental should offer any assistance to our in-house dental nurses who wish to register with this organization.
You may want to think again about becoming a dental hygienist if you cannot stand the sight of other people’s oral cavities- and remember that you are likely to see some pretty serious incidences of poor oral hygiene. A good dental nurse should appear unflappable and be ready for anything even when dealing with a patient who is clearly not enjoying the root canal surgery procedure being conducted on him/her.