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Wanting to go to School

Hello! I am strongly considering going to school in January to be a dental hygienist. For those that have graduated, is the job what you thought it would be? Is it better/worse? What do your work weeks typically look like? Can you choose to only work with children or do you have to do anyone thrown your way?

For those in Wisconsin, what school did you attend?



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2 Answers

If you have a clear picture of what the dental hygiene profession looks like, you can have a better understanding if it’s for you and if it meets your expectations. I would recommend shadowing a dental hygienist, or several at different offices, to see if its for you. There is a lot of information online about what it’s like to be a dental hygienist.
 
There are options on how much you work or not. Some offices are open 4 days per week and some are open 7 days per week. Some hygienists work full time, while others work part-time. Some hygienists work for multiple offices to get the hours they want, while others do temp and fill in work to get more hours.
 
There are pedo offices, meaning they only treat kids. Their are periodontal offices, where most likely you will see only adults. A general dentistry office most likely sees both kids and adults.
 
When it comes to schools to attend, you need to go to an accredited program. I would highly suggest attending a community college or university over a trade school that’s purely for-profit.

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I picked hygiene my junior year of high school. I had never worked in an dental office and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I love this career! I had no idea that as a 17 year old with no knowledge of the field how perfect it was for me. I work 3 days per week, and can afford a comfortable life- House, car, dog, my husband doesn’t NEED to work. Some things to consider: you will very likely develop back, neck, shoulder, wrist, or another type of pain- RDHs have a 98% chance of developing musculoskeletal pain, I didn’t know this until AFTER I was in the program and now being 3 years in, I definitely have the upper back pain and neck stiffness- take care of your body! In regards to patients, in a pedo office, my experience was an RDH is typically used for restorative rather than cleanings- which means numbing and placing fillings. Remember RDHs can be expensive to employ for pedo offices so they’re going to use you for higher production tasks. I personally work in a rural area with a lot of geriatric patients and see the occasional kid- I love it! Geriatric patients are amazing, less sensitive and are very patient. In general don’t be afraid to treat adults and patients from all age groups, you’ll get a lot more variety and it will likely keep you more interested and less likely to get burn out. Good luck!!

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