Why Study Dental Hygiene?
Dental hygienists who are trained by The University of New Mexico School of Medicine's Division of Dental Hygiene in Albuquerque work in a variety of settings. Dental Hygienists are licensed professional members of the health care industry who work to promote and maintain oral health in the population. Career options include education, sales, health, management, research and public health.
UNM prepares its students to handle the important responsibilities of a career in dental hygiene with our Bachelor of Science, Online Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs. Students get hands-on experience at our full-service public dental clinic while also receiving continuous dental education.
Generally, dental hygienists work in a dental clinics and perform many critical services that detect, prevent and treat diseases of the mouth. However, a career in dental hygiene at the baccalaureate and master’s degrees offers multiple opportunities in a variety of settings.
Dental hygienists must master complex skills to provide comprehensive dental hygiene care in multiple settings – with new ones emerging all the time.
- Perform oral health assessments
- Provide nutritional counseling and self-care programs to prevent disease
- Examine head, neck and oral regions for disease
- Take and interpret x-rays and perform other diagnostic tests
- Provide services that help patients prevent gum diseases and cavities
- Perform oral cancer and blood pressure screenings
- Provide oral health instructions
- Place and remove temporary fillings and periodontal dressings
- Remove sutures
- Administer local anesthesia
- Conduct oral cancer screening biopsies
- Teach in dental hygiene and dental school programs
- Present continuing education seminars
- Write/edit educational materials
- Act as educational consultants to dental companies
Hold administrative positions in these fields:
- Clinical practice
- Public health
- Professional organizations
- Develop and conduct research studies
- Apply for research grants
- Write scientific papers for professional publications
- Present research
Creating new enterprises:
- Practice management services
- Educational initiatives
- Clinical practices
- Companies that promote health
- Consulting business
- Founder of a nonprofit
- Sales representatives
- Product researchers
- Corporate educators or administrators
Public health is a growing field. Dental hygienists can pursue graduate public health education at both the College of Population Health and dental schools.
- Health policy and program management and administration
- Research methods in dental public health
- Oral health promotion and disease prevention
- Oral health services delivery systems