Dental hygienists are an important part of a dental office, as they ensure that patients are receiving the highest quality care possible.
The job of a dental hygienist can have many challenges as they work hand in hand with dentists to ensure the meet the oral health needs of their patients.
To succeed as a dental hygienist, you need a mix of hard and soft skills that utilize your personal traits and your professional experience.
Hard skills are those acquired through work and professional experience, while soft skills are more personal but harder to quantify.
Even though hard and soft skills are very different, both are necessary to succeed in the role of a dental hygienist.
Here are 6 skills in high demand for dental hygienists, so you can land your dream job and help patients achieve a healthy smile.
1. Oral Communication
Oral communication is an extremely important skill to have as a dental hygienist since you are constantly communicating with patients and dentists to provide proper oral health treatment.
You will need to fully understand each patient’s medical and oral health histories, and you must address any questions or concerns they bring up to you to put them at ease during appointments and procedures.
You will also need to communicate with patients about what is going right or wrong with their oral health, clearly explain to them what you are doing during the appointment to handle it, and what they need to do at home to improve it.
2. Conducting X-rays
A common part of a dental hygienists’ job is to take x-rays and imaging of patients teeth and gums.
Since x-ray machines emit radiation, it is important that you know the proper steps it takes to conduct the x-rays, and the correct procedures necessary to do them safely.
Make sure that you know how to correctly place thyroid collars on patients, and how to properly position the x-rays machine so that you can produce clear images of the patient's teeth and gums.
Paying attention to detail and being detail-oriented will help you to succeed as a dental hygienist.
While working with patients and dentists to provide quality oral health care, you have to be thorough with your assessments and with the work you do on your patients’ mouths.
As you work with tools and instruments on the teeth and gums of your patients, you can easily make a mistake and hurt the patient if you are not paying close attention to detail.
In addition, if you are not paying close attention to details, you may end up giving the patient the wrong treatment.
4. Applying Fluoride Treatments
As a dental hygienist you will be applying flouride treatments to patient’s teeth to keep them healthy and to prevent cavities.
You have to know how to properly use the tools and instruments necessary to apply the fluoride to your patient's teeth, and then will need to show the patient how to effectively rinse the fluoride from their mouths.
It is important that you know how much fluoride to use, and where exactly to apply the fluoride on their teeth.
Having compassion is crucial as a dental hygienist, so that you can ensure that your patients feel safe and at ease throughout their appointments and procedures.
A large majority of people who go to the dentist are at least a little scared or anxious, and many people suffer from severe anxiety going to the dentist.
You have to be able to communicate with them properly and speak to their thoughts, concerns, and emotions correctly.
You will also have to comfort patients that do become anxious or upset while they are in the dental chair, to help them feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout the appointment.
6. Manual Dexterity
Having manual dexterity is important when you are constantly using sharp tools and instruments in the mouths of your patients.
You need to have strong control over your hands, fingers, wrists, and arms, so that you do not make sudden movements and possibly injure your patients.
Having steady hands and a relaxed presence while making bodily movements is crucial when you are cleaning patients teeth and conducting treatments and procedures.