Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists

Basic Information about Dental Hygienists

If you have good people skills or passion for taking care of people’s oral heath, which includes gums and teeth,then becoming a dental hygienist or oral healthcare professional would be a good one for you. These professionals offer advice and vital information to people, (both the young and old), on how they can keep their teeth and gums in good condition.

For you to work as a dental hygienist, you must have graduated from a higher institution. This institution should also be accredited to offer programs in dental hygiene, with the license to offer both clinical, administrative, research and any other services that relates to oral health.

Your duty as a dental hygienist, is to check the oral tissues of patients and also evaluate their oral health, to find out if there are presence of any disease or maybe they are prone to contracting one; they diagnose patients and based on the report, formulates a treatment plan for them.

There are some clinical procedures that are carried out by the dental hygienist. These includes plaque and stain removal, processing as well as exposing dental X-rays. They also apply some agents for cavity preventions, which are fluorides, fissure sealants and pit. In some locations, the dental hygienists also perform duties like; temporary fillings, periodontal dressing, sutures removal and also carry out root-planning. These professionals can also provide laboratory and clinical test for other medical professionals to interpret. Generally, the dental hygienist work with the instructions, provided by the dentist which is centred on preventing any dental problem.

Job Description and working conditions

Prevention, education as well as treatment are the three main services that the dental hygienist provides. When patients visit a dentist, they are first led to a dental hygienist. The patient’s teeth and gums, are examined for any possible oral problems by the dental hygienist. Their duty is also to enlighten patients on how they can maintain good oral hygiene such as; how to floss and the right toothbrush to use. They can also provide a care plan for patients to go home with.

As a dental hygienist, you also work alongside nurses and dentists to provide the best quality oral care services to patients. A dental hygienist, do not identify and cure dental problems but they provide useful tips and information on how one can sustain a perfect oral health.

  • Working conditions

You find the dental hygienist in places like hospitals, schools, nursing homes, private dental practice, community health settings, faculty practice clinic and others, providing clinical services.

There are other career opportunities for you as a dental hygienists. It is not just about offering clinical services. There are opportunities in areas like education, marketing, sales and research, administration and public health. Some professionals may decide to combine different positions with varied career path, just to have some variety in the profession. You can do this perfectly, when you have an excellent ability to multi-task or manage your schedules.

This profession also offers flexible hours of work, where you can work full time or part time. You will have enough time for yourself to attend to other activities, working as a dental hygienist.  The dental hygienist is required to put on some gadgets, while working on patients; these gadgets are specially made to protect the professional from contracting diseases while working. Some of these gadgets are surgical masks, safety glasses, and gloves. When collecting X-rays, it is very important that the dental hygienist, follows all the laid down procedures strictly; this is to protect himself and his patients. They also spend long hours, bending over patients when working on them.

Education, training and certification

You are required to obtain an Associate of Dental Hygiene degree to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. A certificate in dental hygiene, a bachelor of dental hygiene degree and a master of dental hygiene are the different types of qualification, you are required to have; masters thus exist but are less common for the dental hygienists.

Basically, private dental outfit’s requirement for a dental hygienist is to possess an associate degree or have a certificate in dental hygiene. Those that have interest in teaching, research or clinic practices, in school or public health programs would need a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

For your certificate to be recognized and accepted, you must graduate from an institution, offering dental hygiene program that is accredited. The dental hygienists must also, be licensed in the state of practice. Requirement for you to be licensed, differs from one state to another. You will also be required to complete an accredited entry level program, completion of the written National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, a regional clinical examination and a state jurisprudence and ethics exam.

  •  Training for the dental hygienist

You can start an approved training program; once you have started, you will spend much of your time on clinical work placements, colleges, university, studying subjects like;

  • Diet and nutrition
  • Dental radiography
  • Preventive dentistry
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Dental health promotion

High school students who wants to study the course should take courses like chemistry, biology as well as mathematics.


Dental hygienists receive good salaries. This is true, especially when you consider the fact that most of them work on part time basis. In the year 2013, their mean salary was US$71,110. Those that were best paid got about US$96,690. The lowest, which is about 10% earned less than US$47,660. Most of the dental hygienists, enjoy some benefits like sick leave, vacation, and contributions made to their retirement fund. However, it is important to know that only full-time workers are privileged to enjoy these benefits and they also vary by employer. To know more about dental hygienist salary, visit here.

Job Growth and Career outlook

There is a strong positive indication that the employment for dental hygienists would grow much faster. It is expected to grow by 38% between now and the year 2020. The reason for this growth is the advancement that is achieved in dental hygiene as well as oral care. As new technologies emerges, and are being implemented into the offices of dentist, the need for new dental hygienist, dentists as well as dental assistant is expected to rise.

It is very simple for one to see reasons, for venturing into a career as a dental hygienists. This profession is very comfortable to students and others. It is not just because the career outlook is expected to improve, but the profession also enjoys some flexibility that would benefit students; so they can work while they continue their education.