Dental Hygienist

Last Updated:
May 1, 2023

Job Description Overview

A Dental Hygienist is a vital part of the healthcare industry, providing essential care for patients' oral health. As a Dental Hygienist, your primary role is to assist patients in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. You'll perform routine dental cleanings, educate patients on proper oral hygiene, and assist dentists during procedures. 

Your day-to-day activities may include removing tartar, plaque, and stains from teeth, taking x-rays, and applying fluoride and sealants. You'll also educate patients on proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as provide nutritional counseling to prevent tooth decay. Additionally, you may be responsible for maintaining patient records, scheduling appointments, and ordering supplies.

To become a Dental Hygienist, you'll need a degree or certificate from an accredited program, as well as a license to practice in your state. Strong communication skills, attention to detail, and a passion for helping others are essential for success in this role.

If you're ready to make a difference in patients' lives and help them achieve a healthy smile, a Dental Hygienist job description may be the right career path for you.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Clean teeth and gums to prevent decay and gum disease.
  • Conduct X-rays of teeth and jaw to detect problems.
  • Educate patients on proper dental hygiene practices.
  • Check for signs of oral cancer and refer patients to a specialist as needed.
  • Apply fluoride and other preventive treatments to protect teeth.
  • Maintain dental equipment and tools, including sterilization.
  • Work with dentists to develop treatment plans for patients.
  • Keep accurate patient records and monitor patient progress.
  • Assist with dental procedures such as fillings and root canals.
  • Provide personalized recommendations for at-home dental care.

Experience and Education Requirements

Becoming a dental hygienist requires both education and experience. First, you need to complete a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. This typically takes two to three years of schooling and includes classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical experience. After completing the program, you must pass a national board exam to become licensed in your state. In addition to education, most employers require some level of experience. You can gain this experience by working in a dental office or through internships while in school. Many dental hygienists also continue their education with additional courses and certifications to stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments.

Salary Range

Dental Hygienists are essential members of the healthcare team. They work closely with dentists to ensure the oral health of their patients. If you're wondering about the salary range for a Dental Hygienist, it varies depending on the location, experience, and education level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual Dental Hygienist salary in the US is around $77,090. The lowest 10% earned less than $54,800, and the highest 10% earned more than $103,340. 

In Canada, the median hourly wage for Dental Hygienists is C$38.46, with a salary range between C$27.97 and C$50.71. In Australia, the average salary for a Dental Hygienist is AU$66,528 per year.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020: Dental Hygienists
  • PayScale - Dental Hygienist Hourly Pay in Canada 
  • PayScale - Dental Hygienist Salary in Australia

Career Outlook

Dental hygienists are healthcare professionals who specialize in teeth cleaning, preventive dental care, and patient education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental hygiene jobs are projected to grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for preventive dental services will continue to increase as research studies continue to link oral health to general health. As such, more people will seek regular dental checkups, leading to a higher demand for dental hygienists. Additionally, dental hygienists can take on expanded roles such as administering anesthesia, which can further increase employment opportunities. Overall, the career outlook for dental hygienists in the healthcare sector looks promising in the coming years. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a Dental Hygienist do?

A: A Dental Hygienist provides preventative dental care, which includes cleaning teeth, taking X-rays and assessing overall oral health, as well as educating patients on proper oral care techniques.

Q: What education and training is required to become a Dental Hygienist?

A: To become a Dental Hygienist, you typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene and must pass a licensing exam. Some states also require a bachelor's or master's degree.

Q: What are the working conditions like for a Dental Hygienist?

A: Dental Hygienists typically work in clean, well-lit offices or clinics, and spend a lot of time standing and bending over patients. They may work full-time or part-time, and often work flexible hours including evenings and weekends.

Q: How much do Dental Hygienists earn?

A: The median annual wage for Dental Hygienists is around $76,220 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, salaries can vary depending on geographic location, experience, and type of employer.

Q: What are some skills needed to be a successful Dental Hygienist?

A: A successful Dental Hygienist is detail-oriented, has excellent communication skills, and is able to work well with patients of all ages. They should also have good hand-eye coordination, critical thinking skills, and be physically fit to perform the duties of the job.

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