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What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Good dental health is a team effort. Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth, take X-rays and examine patients' mouths for signs of gingivitis and other diseases. Hygienists also teach patients how to maintain good oral health, including proper brushing and flossing.

State rules dictate what services they are legally allowed to perform. About half of all dental hygienists work part-time.

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$ 50,000 - $ 103,000
$ 76,000
14,580+
A dental hygienist cleans a patient’s teeth
Good oral health has been linked to better overall health, and a dental hygienist can explain why. (Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)
A Day In the Life
Image
Antonia Lemons, dental hygienist ambassador, Midtown Dental Center
A Day In the Life

Antonia Lemons really enjoys seeing people smile — especially when her work as a dental hygienist helps make that smile sparkle.

The job is so much more than that, of course, and that’s what she likes about it.

“It’s important to make the patient feel safe, comfortable and glad they came to the office,” says Antonia. She’s got more to say about certain misconceptions and why this is such a great job.

Job Responsibilities
  • Take dental X-rays
  • Clean patients’ teeth by removing stains, calculus and plaque (the hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth
  • Apply protective substances to the teeth such as sealants and fluorides
  • Teach patients good oral hygiene strategies
  • Conduct oral cancer screenings
  • Counsel patients about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
  • Make impressions of patients' teeth
  • Set up appointments for the patient
  • Document patient treatment plan
Education + Training

An associate degree is required to become a dental hygienist. It typically takes three years to complete the training, which is available at community colleges, trade schools and universities. Some students get a bachelor’s degree. Programs include classroom, lab and clinical time. 

A license from the state dental board is required, and specific requirements may vary by state. The American Dental Association website features a directory of state dental boards.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Have good communication skills
  • Have a calm and reassuring manner
  • Are detailed-oriented
  • Have good dexterity
  • Have strong problem-solving skills

Dental Hygienist Training in Your Area

Coordinates

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Tulsa Community College
Tulsa (68.8 Miles)

Dental Assisting, A.A.S.

Ozarks Technical Community College
Springfield (134.2 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Ozarks Technical Community College
Springfield (134.2 Miles)

Dental Assisting Certificate

Ozarks Technical Community College
Springfield (134.2 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Johnson County Community College
Overland Park (137.5 Miles)

Dental Assisting, A.A.S.

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)

Certificate Dental Assisting

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)

Certificate Dental Assisting

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)

Dental Assisting, A.A.S.

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

State Fair Community College
Sedalia (173.4 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Collin College
McKinney (276.4 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S

Iowa Western Community College
Council Bluffs (289.0 Miles)

Find Dental Hygienist Jobs in Your Area

Coordinates

Registered Dental Hygienist - Full time with benefits and paid time off

Western Dental
Hanford ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 months 3 weeks ago

Hygienist - RDH

Aspen Dental
Bartlesville ( 27.3 ) Miles
Posted 1 month 2 weeks ago

Dental Hygienist

Heartland Dental
Owasso ( 56.5 ) Miles
Posted 4 days 2 hours ago

Registered Dental Hygienist

Aria Care Partners
Tulsa ( 66.5 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 1 week ago

Dental Hygienist - Full or Part Time

Morton Comprehensive Health
Tulsa ( 66.5 ) Miles
Posted 4 weeks 2 days ago

Hygienist PT (39311)

Ocean Dental Corporate Office, Inc.
Tulsa ( 66.5 ) Miles
Posted 1 month 1 week ago

Hygienist - RDH

Aspen Dental
Tulsa ( 66.5 ) Miles
Posted 2 months 1 week ago

Dental Hygienist

Heartland Dental
Sand Springs ( 70.3 ) Miles
Posted 1 month 4 weeks ago