Dental Hygienist

At a Glance

Years in School (after high school graduation):

2-4

Hourly Wage:

$24.25-$56.59 (Mean $40.59)

One-page Description (PDF):

Dental Hygienist

Professional Activities

The dental hygienist is a practicing member of the dental healthcare team. A hygienist works under the supervision of a dentist and has the primary responsibility of teaching patients how to care for and maintain the cleanliness of their teeth and gums. In addition to providing the routine service of removing stains and deposits from patients’ teeth, a hygienist also has the responsibility of taking x-rays, applying sealants to children’s teeth and administering fluoride treatments to help prevent decay. When it comes to good oral health and preventive care, the dental hygienist is the person responsible for making sure the patients stay on track with routine care.

Hygienists in Alaska are also now permitted some restorative functions, if certified.  This includes placing and finishing amalgam (silver) and composite (white) restorations (fillings).  The dentist prepares the tooth by removing the decay, then the hygienist can place the filling.

In rural Alaska, dental hygienists usually work with dentists in Indian Health Service or regional health corporation clinics. Others practice in private clinics. Dental hygienists also find positions in health education and community health programs.

Educational Requirements

Following a two or four-year college education, licensure is required to practice. All educational plans include:

  • Graduation from high school with recommended coursework in science, math, and English.
  • Some dental hygiene schools require or recommend specific testing, such as the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS V).
  • Community colleges offer two-year programs and award an Associate’s degree or certificate. Many programs require a college background before admission.
  • Four-year programs award Bachelor’s degrees. Usually the first two years are spent taking prerequisite courses in science and other subjects. The final two years are spent in the study of dental hygiene.

Academic Programs

Accredited Schools in Alaska:

UAA now offers both an AAS degree and a BSDH degree. The bachelor’s degree is a completion degree, not an entry level degree. Students must first earn their AAS degree and become licensed before continuing on with the bachelor’s degree. With a BSDH, hygienists can teach in an Associate Degree program, become commissioned officers in the Public Health Service, or pursue a graduate degree.

University of Alaska Anchorage
Dental Hygiene Program
Allied Health Science Building, Room 148
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-6925
Email: pence@uaa.alaska.edu
Website: http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/alliedhealth/academics/dentalhygiene/index.cfm

Contacts

State Contact:

Alaska State Dental Hygienists’ Association (ASDHA)
PO Box 240247
Anchorage, AK 99524
Phone: (907) 349-1553
Website: http://www.asdha.com/

National Contact:

American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA)
444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 3400
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 440-8900
Email:education@adha.net
Website: http://www.adha.org/

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