Preference is given to residents of New Mexico. Age, gender, disability, race, religion and/or national origin are not factors in admission considerations.
Dental hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventive dental care. Hygienists examine patients’ teeth and gums, recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities. They remove calculus, stains, and plaque from teeth; perform root planing as a periodontal therapy; take and develop dental x rays; and apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants. In some States, hygienists administer anesthetics; place and carve filling materials, temporary fillings, and periodontal dressings; remove sutures; and smooth and polish metal restorations.
Dental hygienists work in clean, well-lighted offices. Important health safeguards include strict adherence to proper radiological procedures and the use of appropriate protective devices when administering anesthetic gas. Dental hygienists also wear safety glasses, surgical masks, and gloves to protect themselves and patients from infectious diseases. Flexible scheduling is a distinctive feature of this occupation. Fulltime, part-time, evening, and weekend schedules are widely available.
Dental hygienists must be licensed by the state in which they practice. To qualify for licensure in nearly all states, a candidate must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school and pass both a written and clinical examination. The American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations administers the written examination, which is accepted by all states and the District of Columbia. A minimum of an Associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene is generally required for practice in a private dental office. A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. UNM offers dental hygiene degrees at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels.