Dental Hygiene Information
What is a Dental Hygienist?
Most dental hygienists practice in private dental offices where they provide a wide range of preventative dental services, including periodontal examination, scaling and debridement, radiography, dental sealants, constructing bleaching trays, and providing oral hygiene instructions for patients with special needs. For a list of competencies of a UT graduate, see Competencies.
In recent years there has been an increase in knowledge about the progression and treatment of periodontal disease. Ultrasonic instrumentation has been refined and several chemotherapeutic agents are being used in the treatment of periodontal disease. General dentists and dental hygienists are successfully treating periodontal disease in their practices. Dental hygiene has evolved into a challenging career offering attractive income potential.
What are the educational requirements?
Minimum requirements for becoming a Dental Hygienist include satisfactory completion of 58 hours of pre-professional college work, including certain prescribed courses. For more information see Admissions.
An individual considering a career in dental hygiene should be able to perform work that requires precision and sound judgment. Manual dexterity, dependability, and good vision are also important characteristics. Functioning under time and patient management constraints is often encountered. Additionally, students will be expected to comply with a variety of clinical and workplace rules and regulations related to successful and safe clinical practice.
Dental hygiene is a challenging and demanding profession continually evolving with new perspectives and options for study and employment. While most dental hygienists work in private dental offices and dental clinics, other practice settings include public health departments, hospitals, nursing homes, and school systems. Hygienists are also employed in private industry, correctional facilities, and Health Maintenance Organizations.
Dental hygienists most often choose a career in clinical practice, but they may choose to be involved in public health, sales, education and /or research activities. Hygienists who are interested in education may teach full-time or part-time in educational programs for dental, dental hygiene, and dental assisting students. Dental hygienists can incorporate research activities into clinical practice or such activities may be among their responsibilities as educators.
Department of Dental Hygiene
College of Dentistry
5th Floor North
875 Union Ave.
Memphis, TN 38163