4 Major Advantages of Becoming a Dental Hygienist
Oral health is a lot more important than many people realize. In fact, having healthy teeth and gums doesn't just have a positive effect on your appearance; it can also lower your risk of developing serious illnesses. For example, by preventing gum disease, you may also prevent potential health conditions such as diabetes, lung problems, and heart disease.
That's why dental hygienists are important and well-respected healthcare professionals. They focus on helping dental patients achieve and maintain the kind of oral health that contributes to having a good quality of life. And they help detect dental problems in the early stages before they become truly serious. It's the type of work that can make a big difference, especially when you consider that:
- About 70 percent of all Canadians will have gum disease at some point during their lifetimes.*
- By the time they reach their teenage years, nearly 60 percent of people have cavities.**
With training from a dental hygienist college, you can develop the expertise necessary for helping to prevent those and other problems related to oral health. Plus, by pursuing this path, you may get the opportunity to experience major benefits such as:
1. Excellent Pay
Dental hygiene jobs often come with terrific salaries. That's because dental hygienists perform work that tends to generate a lot of steady revenue for the dental offices they work in. And even if they work in a different type of work setting, their skills are considered very valuable since regular dental cleanings and checkups are essential for the maintenance of good oral health.
So how much do dental hygienists make? According to national estimates from the period of 2012-2013, the median hourly wage of dental hygienists in Canada was $33.96. For full-time work, that equals a salary of about $70,600. However, some people in this field have reported hourly wages that could translate to salaries above $100,000.***
2. Career Security and Flexibility
One of the biggest advantages of training at dental hygiene schools in Canada is this: It can lead to a reliable career in one of the nation's strongest and fastest-expanding vocational fields. In fact, between 2013 and 2022, more than 11,300 job openings could be generated in the category of technical occupations in dental healthcare. Yet it's projected that only a little over 9,000 people will seek those jobs.*** So the demand for qualified dental hygienists will likely continue to be strong well into the future.
In addition, people with careers in dental hygiene often have the ability to balance their professional and personal lives in ways that match their individual needs and goals. For example, it's possible to find employment opportunities that allow you to work full- or part-time or even on weekends or in the evenings if that's what works best for you.
And the variety of possible work environments is another advantage that makes dental hygiene a flexible career option. Just look at the types of employers who hire dental hygienists:
- Dental offices
- Long-term residential care facilities
- Public health clinics
- Government agencies
- Public school systems
- Dental product manufacturers
Plus, some dental hygienists in Canada are able to set up their own independent practices. That way, they are not under the supervision or control of other healthcare professionals. This option is allowed in many provinces, but some limitations may apply.
3. Personal Fulfillment
Serving others in a way that contributes to their confidence and physical well-being can be highly rewarding. That's why dental hygienists often feel a deep sense of personal satisfaction and self-respect. Plus, they get to help all kinds of people—from the very young to the elderly or disabled. And their daily tasks can be more varied than you might realize. For example, they generally get to:
- Inspect their patients' mouths for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or oral cancer
- Remove plaque and tartar buildup from their patients' teeth
- Stimulate their patients' gums in order to help prevent disease
- Apply tooth sealants or fluoride treatments
- Make dental impressions
- Take dental x-rays
- Educate their patients about good nutrition and oral hygiene practices
4. A Straightforward Path to Licensure
When it comes to becoming a fully qualified dental hygienist, requirements don't vary that much in Canada. The process is easy to understand, which means that you can focus more of your attention on learning the skills you'll need. Essentially, all provinces and territories require that you:
- Complete an approved dental hygienist course of study that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) and that results in either a diploma or degree.
- Register with your region's dental hygiene regulatory authority in order to achieve licensure. A few examples include:
- The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario
- The College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia
- The New Brunswick College of Dental Hygienists
- The College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta
- Take some continuing education classes each year after beginning your career. The specific requirements for this last point can vary a little from region to region.
Begin With a Simple First Step
It's easy to start creating the momentum you need for attaining your career goals. Begin right now by entering your postal code into the following search tool to find a dental hygienist school in your area!
* Canadian Dental Association, website last visited on October 27, 2015.
** Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, website last visited on October 27, 2015.
*** Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last visited on October 27, 2015.