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Dental Hygienist School in Virginia – VA

Dental hygienists examine and clean patients' teeth, provide preventative dental care and educate patients on ways to improve their oral health. Some dental hygienists might take and develop x-rays. In Virginia, all dental hygienists work under the supervision of a dentist, who might provide direct supervision during procedures, or might authorize procedures to be completed in his or her absence. All of this begins with a solid education, which many students choose to get through dental hygienist schools in Virginia.

Degree programs in dental hygiene

Some dental hygienists earn an associate degree in dental hygiene. Those who choose to conduct research, teach others, or work in public or school health programs might opt for either a bachelor's or master's degree. Courses included in the dental hygiene program touch on the practical applications of the job, as well as physiology, nutrition, anatomy, radiography and periodontology.

In the state of Virginia, students must complete at least 2,000 hours of college study in basic and dental sciences, as well as 600 hours of clinical practice. The college study must include courses in pharmacology, pathology, medical emergencies, preventive medicine, periodontology and nutrition.

In the state of Virginia, educational attainment of dental hygienists was evenly split between the associate and the bachelor's degrees in 2012, according to the Virginia Department of Health Professions. About 7 percent of dental hygienists earned their master's degree. Just over 60 percent of all dental hygienists working in the state earned their degree from schools in Virginia.

Getting licensed as a dental hygienist in Virginia

All dental hygienists in Virginia must be licensed. Licensing includes three parts: the successful completion of a dental hygiene program through an accredited institution, passing the comprehensive National Board Examination, and passing the written, clinical, and law examinations of the Virginia Board of Dentistry.

Licensing by endorsement is possible for those who have already been licensed in other states. This requires verification of credentials and experience. Once licensed, dental hygienists are required to attend to continuing education requirements in order to renew their license every year.

Career overview for Virginia dental hygienists

Jobs for dental hygienists are booming across the nation, with an expected employment growth of 33 percent for dental hygienists nationwide from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). The outlook is even better for those in Virginia, with an estimated growth rate of 48 percent for that same time period, according to Projections Central. The income news is good as well. The BLS reported a mean annual wage of $71,530 for dental hygienists nationwide in 2013, but in Virginia, the mean annual wage was $79,230, substantially higher than the national average.

As preventative care becomes more important to patients, dental practices are expected to expand, thus increasing the number of hygienists hired. Other points that might help push the demand include an aging population demanding more dental services, as well as health care legislation that expands the number of those who have access to health insurance. More than half of all dental hygienists worked part-time in 2012, according to the BLS; however, some of those hygienists worked for more than one dentist.

Sources:

Dental Hygienists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm#tab-1

May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Virginia, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/oes_va.htm#29-0000

Projections Central, Long Term Projection for Dental Hygienists in Virginia, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association, http://vdha.net/

Virginia's Licensed Dental Hygienist Workforce: 2012, Virginia Department of Health Professions, Healthcare Workforce Data Center, November 2012, http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/hwdc/docs/Dentistry2012/2012DentalHygienist.pdf

Dental Hygienist Schools