healthcare

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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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Median Salary $
76,000
Jobs Available
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)
Duties + 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 Certificate of Achievement

Pasadena City College
Pasadena (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Hagerstown Community College
Hagerstown (0.0 Miles)
Jackson College Logo

Health Sciences Certificate - Dental Hygiene Focus

Jackson College
Jackson (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.S.

Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee (0.0 Miles)

Basic Dental Assisting

Danville Community College
Danville (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Houston Community College
Houston (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.S.

Middlesex Community College (MA)
Bedford (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Mohave Community College
Kingman (0.0 Miles)

Certificate Dental Assisting

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Howard Community College
Columbia (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.S.

Valencia College
Orlando (0.0 Miles)

Dental Hygiene, A.A.S.

Columbus State Community College
Columbus (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Antonia Lemons
Image
Antonia Lemons, dental hygienist ambassador, Midtown Dental Center
Meet Ambassador
Antonia Lemons

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.

Find Dental Hygienist Jobs in Your Area

Coordinates

Hygienist - RDH

Aspen Dental
West Springfield ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Registered Dental Hygienist

Pacific Dental Services
Orlando ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Dental Hygienist

Heartland Dental
Hattiesburg ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Dental Hygienist - PRN - Day Shifts - Mobile Dental Unit

Ascension Health
Evansville ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

Associate Hygienist - RDH

Aspen Dental
Skokie ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

Registered Dental Hygienist

Pacific Dental Services
Gresham ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

Hygienist - RDH

Aspen Dental
Canandaigua ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 days 11 hours ago

Registered Dental Hygienist - Tarpon Springs

Coast Dental Services, Inc.
Tarpon Springs ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 day 11 hours ago