Making smiles brighter, dental hygienists are in demand. Students can enter this important healthcare field at Jackson College.
Dental hygiene is a growing field with ample career opportunities. Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis and provide other preventive dental care. They may see a variety of patients throughout the day, from a child to a geriatric adult. They may do regular cleanings, deep cleanings, fluoride treatments, X-rays, whitening trays or mouth guards. Hygienists also offer guidance and advice that can impact people’s lives.
About the Program
Jackson College offers an Associate in Applied Science in dental hygiene, the common credential for those entering the field. Interested students should complete a number of prerequisite courses before applying for admission to the program, which is competitive. The program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Upon completion, students will be able to complete national, regional and state board examinations for licensure.
Local students pursuing the dental program through the Career Centers now have the opportunity to stay closer to home to pursue their associate degree in dental hygiene. The College has an on-site dental clinic where students learn and gain practical experience, under supervision.
“For students, there are four main qualities you need to be a dental hygienist. You need to be positive, you need to be patient, you must be patient and understanding, and you need to be detail-oriented,” said Pat Guenther, program director. “Students will also need an interest in science-based courses because it is a rigorous curriculum that has a lot of science-based subjects.”
Demand is high for dental hygienists, with 20 percent growth in employment in the next several years in Michigan, much higher than the average. Starting wages are in the $51,000 range, while median wages are $65,780 annually. In addition, dental hygiene offers intrinsic rewards that come with helping people. “We can make an impact on people’s lives, assessing their overall health and tailoring a treatment plan to benefit that patient’s treatment needs.