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If you’re contemplating a career in dentistry, it’s essential to explore the diverse opportunities available and recognize the potential for career advancement. In this blog, we will dive into the journey from Dental Assistant to Dental Hygienist, shedding light on why beginning with dental assisting is a valuable stepping stone in this professional progression. Let’s discover the key considerations and benefits of starting your journey with dental assisting.

Understanding the Roles: Dental Assistant vs. Dental Hygienist

Before delving into the transition process, it’s essential to grasp the distinctions between the roles of a Dental Assistant and a Dental Hygienist. Dental Assistants primarily provide support to dentists during patient procedures, manage patient records, and handle various administrative tasks. On the other hand, Dental Hygienists are licensed healthcare providers who work more independently and focus on preventive care, conducting cleanings and periodontal therapy, and educating patients on proper oral hygiene practices.

Education and Training Requirements

Transitioning from a Dental Assistant to a Dental Hygienist typically involves pursuing additional education and training. While Dental Assistants often complete diploma or certificate programs, Dental Hygienists need an associate degree or higher. Consider enrolling in a reputable Dental Hygiene program to acquire the necessary clinical and theoretical knowledge.

Meeting Licensing Requirements

Each state has specific licensing requirements for Dental Hygienists. Ensure you understand and fulfill these requirements, which include graduating from a CODA accredited program, passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), a clinical board examination, and state jurisprudence exam. Some states may have additional exams or requirements for licensure. 

Gaining Clinical Experience

Hands-on clinical experience is a crucial aspect of becoming a Dental Hygienist. Seek opportunities to apply your skills in real-world settings, whether through internships, externships, or supervised clinical practice. This experience not only enhances your practical skills but also provides valuable insights into the daily responsibilities of a Dental Hygienist.

Navigating Career Advancement

Once you’ve completed the necessary education, training, and licensing requirements, you’ll be well-positioned to transition from a Dental Assistant to a Dental Hygienist. Leverage your existing experience in dental healthcare to stand out during job searches and interviews. Networking with professionals in the field and staying informed about industry trends can further enhance your career advancement.

Choosing dental assisting as a starting point on your journey toward becoming a Dental Hygienist could be beneficial to your career. Dental assistants acquire fundamental skills in patient care, clinical procedures, and office management that form a solid foundation for the more specialized role of a Dental Hygienist.

The hands-on experience and knowledge gained in dental assisting not only make the transition smoother but also enhance your effectiveness as a dental healthcare professional. With the right education, training, and dedication, the progression from Dental Assistant to Dental Hygienist can become a seamless career evolution. Explore the boundless opportunities within dental healthcare, starting with the comprehensive Dental Assisting program offered at MedQuest College. Take the first step by contacting us and speaking with an admissions representative to learn more.