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Dental Hygienists clean teeth and teach clients how to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. They also discuss general health issues with clients and update dental charts. They inspect clients' teeth for deposits and decay, and look for any shrinkage or disease in the gums.
They look to see if the gums and lymph nodes under the chin show any swelling or other signs of cancer. When x-rays need updating, or when there are new clients, hygienists take x-rays. They take great care to position the camera at different angles around the head and mouth. They also develop film for dentists to use as they diagnose problems and plan treatments.
Hygienists use dental instruments to clean plaque and various stains from teeth, in preparation for the dentist. Part of the preparation may include applying numbing agents to a client's gums. They do this so the dentist may administer an injection with the least ammount of discomfort to the client. Hygienists also apply fluoride to children's teeth.
Finally, dental hygienists finish work the dentist does not complete. Examples include removing excess cement from tooth surfaces or polishing fillings. They report what work they do to the dentist, including any other concerns they may find. They counsel clients about dental health and they may teach dental health education for school children and other members of the community.
Most dental hygiene programs take two years to complete and grant an associate's degree. Some four-year programs grant a bachelor's or master's degree. Programs are available at professional technical schools, college and dental schools. Dental Hygienists must be licensed to practice in Minnesota.
Helpful high school courses include, Business, English Language and Literature, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health and Saftey Education and Healthcare Sciences, Life and Physical Sciences, Physical Education, Second Language and Literature and Social Sciences and History.
In Minnesota, Dental Hygienists earn an average of $71,406 per year.
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