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Healthcare Dental Hygienist
Salary Range Jobs Available
$63,800 - $101,200 16,700+

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do: Job Description & Career Information

Good dental care is a team effort, and skilled dental hygienists play a vital role.

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 (gum disease) and other problems. Hygienists also teach patients how to maintain good oral health, including proper brushing and flossing.

Patients often spend more time with a hygienist than they do with any other person in the dental office. It’s important that hygienists are able to work well with many different types of personalities. They educate patients about the importance of dental care for preventing cavities and tooth loss. They also are the key connection between patients and the dentist who signs off on recommended treatment plans.

Hygienists are the beating heart of a well-run dental practice. If you have a calm, compassionate presence and this essential role sounds like a good fit, keep reading to learn more.

A dental hygienist cleans a patient’s teeth
As dental hygienists are examining and cleaning patients' teeth, they are also educating patients about why good oral health is so important to overall health. (Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

Responsibilities

  • Review patient history
  • Clean patients’ teeth by removing stains, calculus (tartar) and plaque (the hard and soft deposits) from all teeth surfaces
  • Apply protective substances to the teeth such as sealants and fluorides
  • Take and interpret dental X-rays
  • Teach patients good oral hygiene strategies, such as flossing
  • Conduct gingivitis and oral cancer screenings
  • Counsel patients about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
  • Make impressions of patients' teeth
  • Document patients' treatment plans

How To Become a Dental Hygienist: FAQs

The bottom line:

This in-demand, high-paying job is a good opportunity. It takes a special person to be the dental hygienist that patients request time and time again. If you think you have the qualities and the drive, check out the dental hygienist training options on SkillPointe.

Antonia Lemons, dental hygienist ambassador, Midtown Dental Center

What is it like to be a dental hygienist?

Antonia Lemons 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,” she says.

She’s got more to say about why being a dental hygienist is such a great job.

Local Certifications and Requirements

You may need a state license or certificate before you can work in a specific career in your state. Different states may also have different education and experience requirements, fees and application forms. The good news - we make it super easy to find what you need to begin your new career. Just enter your zip code to get started.

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