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Hygiene School out of the military

Hi,

I had a question regarding going to hygiene school fresh out of the military. First of all, I am currently DOING hygiene, with military training, but the most we can do is prophylaxis (which I’m not sure how it’s defined on the outside, the military uses very broad terms and basically says a prophy is anything and everything that’s under 6 mm) up to 3 mm in the sulcus. Many of my patients require more treatment and as I’ve gained experience and some supervision I’ve ventured beyond the 3 mm. At the end of my enlistment, I will have ended with about 6 years of experience doing “light” hygiene. My question is, are there opportunities for military vets in the hygiene world, and, being male, what does it look like on the outside for male hygienists in kind of a female dominated environment/profession? Also, in hygiene school itself, are there opportunities to “shine” so to speak, or even jump ahead in the curriculum based off of prior experience?



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Author Note:
Okay one last question! Do hygienists normally have an assistant on the outside or do you work solo? Just asking because in the military we are not allowed an assistant under any circumstances but I've seen hygienists on the outside have them.

15 Answers

Each state may be different but here you would have to go through formal training including prerequisites. I agree with Sue, the # of males is growing. I know several in my area. Good luck!

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You will not get to move ahead due to experience. Like everyone stated above…..prerequisites and applying to hygiene program. The PLUS for you is you are MALE. If you have the right GPA, ACT and enough points to get an interview…..I’ve never seen a Male turned down at the local college in my town…..

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First of all,thank you for your service. I am a marine daughter of 30 years. I am assuming you are in the Navy. I know you get certain amount of points towards getting into the program but you still needing prerequisite classes and certification as dental assistant II. Go get your DA. Certification first. Then apply for hygiene. I wish you the best of luck! I started out as an orthodonti assistant,then a dental assistant II,then A Hygienist. I love it! Enjoy!

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It’s hard to say because as stated already all states have different protocol on certain things. I would say that it may be inherently harder to be a male hygienist but that’s not to say it is t possible. One oft clinical professors was male and he was great!! I don’t think skipping ahead in any program is doable because they tend to move forward in the curriculum as a class and there is a TON to learn outside the clinical aspect. Hygiene school is very stressful too!! I disappeared for two years!!:) The assistant part I find hilarious!!! Some have them but it isn’t the norm;) Good luck!!!

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I too am Prior Navy, sorry no extra benefits except credit for PE at the college. Its a little different from what you have learned in which you mentioned to is general, but you will do just fine and learn a lot more in depth, you will have an advantage on dental terminology. As for being a male, I have noticed more have joined the profession and kudos to them so go for it!! I would bypass going to assisting school and concentrate on your prereqs. Hygiene school is very stressful and I found that boot camp was much easier both physically and mentally.
It really depends on the office if you have an assistant or not sometimes you do and if you do you may find it difficult. I know that with the economy the way it is, many offices are downsizing their hygiene assistants to save money because the ins companies are not reimbursing the way the used to. Which is threatening to our profession as well. Having said that, Thank you for your service shipmate 🙂 And good luck in your decision.

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I had friend that had been a dental tech in the USAF. He was not given any credit for that and would have had to do prerequisites and apply to a school. That was many years ago, I would call schools in your state and ask those questions.
As far as men in the field, it is still somewhat female dominated, but the number of men is growing. 🙂

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What was your “hygiene” training like in the military?

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You most likely would have to do prerequisites and apply to hygiene school like everyone else. And yes more men are becoming hygienists but its still dominated by women. Some offices give you an assistant but most don’t. It depends on how the dentist runs his hygiene department (1 patient an hour with no assistant or one every 30 minutes with an assistant). I have never heard of the military training for “light” hygiene. Was your training similar to a regular hygiene school but no RDH license was given?

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There was one guy in my RDH class and he did very well, and I don’t think you would have any trouble finding a job just because you are male. In WA state you would get “points” for experience on your application, but you’d still need to complete all the prerequisite courses and complete the actual program once you were accepted, and all of the state and national tests and practical exams for licensure. Make sure you pick a good school, not just one that is fast. I had 12 prerequisite courses and then a toe year program. Jobs around here are hard to come by these days as the market is flooded with new grad RDH’s and dentists are not as busy due to the poor economy.

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Forgot to add that I work without an assistant most of the time, unless I need help perio charting or developing X-rays and one is (rarely) available. It’s easy enough without an assistant.

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I followed my husband through 20 years in the military. I started out as a dental assistant for the Air Force clinic. (I was civilian) I went to dental hygiene school off base and so I was aware of what the military “hygienists” were doing. I will say, don’t think school will be any easier because of your military training. Also, I am not aware of any state that will accept your training. When I was in school, there was also a student that had been a “hygienist” in Alabama, I think. It was on the job training and she had practiced for 11 years before moving to another state. She was not granted a license. She worked and studied just as much as every student in school. Good luck! Dental hygiene is one of the best career
choices you can make!

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Thank you for your service! I am also serving, but as a musician. Two years left to get my twenty! I can’t wait! As a service member, I would highly recommend you stay in for your twenty years of service to get benefits. Not many dental offices offer benefits like you can get while serving. Even if you transfer to a different unit and travel for experience. I am told by many that retirement benefits are worth it! As a dental professional, you may have some skills from the military but I encourage you to be openminded and welcome change. I’ve seen both sides. So, I can say that:)
And no…..never has an assistant for hyg been an option.

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My employer was in the Navy and had dental hygiene duty. He decided to go to school to be a dentist, but he had to switch to the army to get dental school paid for. All the experience as a hygienist is , just that , experience. There are no bump ups, no CLEP tests in dental hygiene school. It’ s a two to three year program but your Military benefits should cover the community college tuition. Just remember no one wants to hear about how you “did it this way in the navy” .lol I have been a hygienist 37 years, never had an assistant, have had help when needed for perio charting and such. I think the main consideration of anyone becoming a hygienist is many offices are small and do not offer benefits, especially health benefits which to join the doctors plan may be too pricey,many try to hire part timers to avoid paying benefits. I know for sure in this field you will be mistaken as a new doctor while I am still called the nurse, ha.

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As a member of the USAF you can apply to become an RDH. I believe you must have your pre-req’s completed. I know 3 active duty members that received their training at civilian schools, paid for by the USAF, while receiving pay. After graduation and licensure they were the NCO’s of the Perio Department of the Dental Squadrons. Check with your branch of service and see if they have a program available.

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I’m prior Navy and everyone is correct you don’t get bumped ahead for military experience however my g.i. Bill paid for my entire program and provided me with money to pay my mortgage. One of the things schools look at is financial stability because they do want to be paid lol . My school was 18 mos we went thru the summers and spring terms. There were two males in my class and they both did well. I’ve worked both with an assistant and with out one neither was better than the other for me.you don’t need to go to DA school first just get the prerequisite and apply for a hygiene program ! I didn’t go to DA school and I did very well in the program! Good luck shipmate!

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