What You Need To Know About Becoming A Dental Hygienist In The UK

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A pre-dentistry student on her dentistry work experience placement in Tanzania Providing necessary expertise in preventive dental care is the primary responsibility of a dental hygienist but that’s not all there is to this job. A dental hygienist’s responsibilities extend far beyond simply removing tartar and cleaning teeth. Additional duties include keeping track of patient care and treatment plans, educating patients on proper dental hygiene practices and taking dental radiographs. In some healthcare establishments you may also be given the additional responsibility of placing temporary fillings, carving filling materials and applying periodontal dressings.

So how does a dental hygiene programme prepare you to fulfil all of these roles?

Dental hygiene programmes across the UK have an extensive curriculum that spans several different areas, all designed to help you become a well-rounded dental hygienist. During your course of study you will study topics ranging from oral pathology and cleaning teeth to nitrous oxide sedation and how to handle unexpected medical emergencies. Proper nutrition is also one of the subjects in the programme as part of your responsibilities includes counselling your patients on how their food choices and dietary habits affect their overall dental health.

Choosing A Dental Hygienist School

There are 20 schools across the UK that offer dental hygiene training. Most of the courses are designed to lead to a joint qualification as a dental hygienist-therapist.

  • University of Edinburgh
  • King’s College Hospital London
  • University of Dundee
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Liverpool
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University College London Hospitals
  • University of Bristol
  • Teeside University
  • University of Essex
  • Greater Manchester School for DCPs
  • University of the Highlands & Inverness
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Manchester
  • Plymouth University, Peninsula Schools  Medicine & Dentistry
  • Queens University Belfast
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Sheffield

Scope of Practice As a Dental Hygienist

Most newly graduated dental hygienists start their career working in dentists’ clinics but you will find that you have several different career paths that you can choose from after you’ve gotten a few years of experience. Some may require you to obtain additional schooling in other specialties.

Academia – There has been a steady increase in demand for hygienists over the past few years and this trend is all set to continue over the projected future. This means more students will have to be trained to meet the increased demand. Experienced professionals are much sought after for teaching in dental hygienist programmes. Some schools may require you to have a teaching degree but not all do.

Research & Development – There is tremendous scope in this area for dental hygienists as R&D companies are always in need of qualified personnel for testing new products or services and also to do ongoing research for specific projects.

Marketing – Companies that manufacture dental products prefer to employ qualified professionals to endorse and market their products. This is a great opportunity for someone who is a natural born salesperson and likes getting out and talking to people.

Contact us on Facebook or Twitter, or email info@gapmedics.com

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training. 

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