Everything you need to know about becoming a dental hygienist in Australia – Part 2

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A pre-dentistry student on her dentistry work experience placement in Tanzania Career Options

The majority of dental hygienists are employed as clinicians with dentists in the private sector. In addition, a career as a dental hygienist also offers exceptional opportunities to work as an educator, researcher, sales and marketing manager, consumer advocate, author, editor or consultant in an array of work settings.

Take a look at some of the career options for dental hygienists:

 

 

 

Clinicians

 As a clinical dental hygienist you would generally work under the guidance of a dentist, which could be in a wide array of healthcare settings including private dental offices, hospitals, schools, community dental clinics or nursing homes. In this role you may work in specialised areas of dentistry such as orthodontics, aged care or special needs. In some states, dental hygienists are allowed to own their own dental practice provided that they employ a dentist and work under the dentist’s guidance in the delivery of dental care.

 

Researcher

 Dental hygienists play a significant role in endorsing proven dental hygiene procedures and products and their affects on oral health. Research is generally conducted in the dental clinic of a practice or training program or within a laboratory setting.

 

Consumer advocate

 Many dental hygienists choose to focus on specific oral health implications that pertain to issues such as fluorides, diabetes, sleep apnoea or childhood tooth decay. As a consumer advocate you would need to stay well informed of current research and activities and take on an active role in educating and advising the public on oral health issues.

 

Educator 

 For experienced dental hygienists interested in academia there are plenty of opportunities for teaching dental students and dental hygiene students in university degree programs.

 

Sales and marketing manager

Working in sales and marketing with dental product and service companies is another interesting career path for dental hygienists. The work involves building customer relationships, identifying market and customer requirements and organising and participating in trade exhibitions.

 

Consultant

Highly experienced dental hygienists are often employed by dental companies to create and deliver educational material to healthcare professionals and the public as Educational Consultants.

 

Legislative regulations 

As with all other registered health professionals, all dental hygienists practising in Australia must practice under specific legislative regulations. To be eligible for registration to practice as a dental hygienist in Australia you will need to provide proof that you have successfully completed a dental hygiene diploma or degree through an accredited institution or university recognised by the state dental board.  Once granted, your registration will have to be renewed annually. Some states may require dental hygienists to participate in continuing education courses for the renewal of their registration. The process of registration represents the strongest form of protection for the public from unqualified practitioners and unsafe practices. Practising as a dental hygienist without obtaining registration from the appropriate Dental Board is illegal and is punishable by fine and conviction.

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