What Is A Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists are dental professionals with a license to practice in various dental settings. A dental hygienist conducts inspections to assess a patient's oral and dental health. They check for signs of oral diseases in patients, provide preventive care and educate them on oral hygiene. 

There are so many more opportunities for dental hygienists now than ever before. You can find dental hygienist programs and training(interlink-Dental Hygienist Programs, Schools And Training Page) both online and offline that will help you become a dental hygienist. If you are interested in this profession, you have to enroll in a program or meet specific requirements to educate you on oral health. The minimum requirement to earn your license is an associate's degree. You can also further study for a bachelor's degree or a master's degree for career advancement.

Who Can Become A Dental Hygienist?

Some people may have personality traits that are better suited for this occupation than others. You need a degree as well as a license to practice, but you can only be efficient in the workplace if you have traits like:
People who work in healthcare should have high empathy and understanding since the job is to serve people.
Manual Dexterity
You need excellent fine motor skills to grasp dental equipment and instruments. You might also work inside a patient's mouth. Thus your fine motor skills need to be accurate.
Interpersonal Skills As a dental hygienist, you will have many interactions with people. You need to have excellent communication skills. Part of your job is to give them information and help them feel comfortable at the dental office.
Physical Stamina
You need to be strong enough to work all day on your feet. 

Dental Hygienist Job Duties And Responsibilities

The primary role of a dental hygienist is preventative oral care of their patients. Dental hygienists assess the oral health of their patients by conducting various inspections. A dental hygienist assists the dentist as needed. If you have an advanced degree, you can work outside of the dental office as a teacher, researcher, or office manager.

Although the duties of a dental hygienist can vary from place to place, some of the most common ones are:
-To remove plaque, tartar, stains, and polish teeth
-To conduct a background check of the patient
-Schedule appointments
-To document patient treatment plans and care
-To take and develop dental x-rays
-Get patients comfortable before, during, and after treatment
-To educate patients on good oral hygiene
-Sterilize dental equipment
-To assist the dentist during procedures
-Set up the tools required for dental procedures
-To apply preventative treatments (fluoride and sealants)
-Restock dental materials
-To administer local anesthetics
-Manage billing and payments

Dental Hygienist Work Environment

Since their work is essential to a dental practice, the working conditions should also be efficient. The work environment can vary from office to office, but there are a few common aspects, such as:
-The workplace is always indoors.
-It involves having a lot of social interactions.
-Dental hygienists should wear masks, safety glasses, and gloves for protection from diseases.
-They are also exposed to radiation since they have to take x-rays of the patients.
-They don't enjoy much personal space because they need to be near patients and doctors.
-They need to be accurate and precise since any errors can endanger the patient's health.
-Sometimes, the job may seem monotonous since they repeat tasks throughout the day. However, each patient's problems are different, so no two days are exactly alike.
-Their jobs are always fast-paced and dynamic because of the variety of tasks they have to do.
-Dental hygienists can work full or part-time.
-Often, a dentist can hire them to work for a few days a week. So, they can also work for more than one dental office.
-Their working hours are also very flexible.

Reasons To Become A Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist's career can be very challenging. But if you are competent to carry out your duties, a dental hygienist's job has many advantages. 

Personal Satisfaction

The best aspect of working as a dental hygienist is the opportunity to work with people. The job entails that you have to be good at communication. Your whole job will always involve talking to patients and co-workers. There is a type of personal satisfaction that comes with helping at least one person in a day. By providing valuable input and service, you can enjoy a sense of personal fulfillment. 


Dental hygienists are highly valued and respected as part of the dental team. Their duties are essential to a dentist's best work on their patients. Dental hygienists are in very high demand by dentists/ dental institutions.


Dental hygienists have the opportunity to work with different people. From children to the elder folks, they work with every type of patient. Dental hygienists are also qualified to offer oral health care information in places where dental health care may be scarce. 


The flexible working hours is a plus point for a career in dental hygiene. They can work full or part-time with varied working hours. They can enjoy the opportunity of balancing their work and home life as needed. Dental hygienists can also work in different settings such as private practices, institutions, research teams, and dental corporations. 

Job Security

A lot of people regard dental hygienists' services as valuable. This job is in great demand, and so employment opportunities are excellent. Due to the awareness of preventive dental treatments, people are seeking treatment more. The new and upcoming technologies in dentistry have helped expand the consumer population. Dentists need more dental hygienists to help them offer quality dental health care. As detailed on our Dental Hygienist Salary And Career Outlook(interlink-Dental Hygienist Salary Page) page, employment is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations from 2019-2029.

Job Growth

You can also become a dentist after gaining experience as a dental hygienist. The most common path to becoming a dentist is to earn a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. If you don't have a bachelor's degree, you can take a 1-2 year dental degree program. A 4-year doctoral program in Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery will qualify you to sit for a state-required state exam. You can find employment opportunities in public health clinics, nursing homes, and specialty practices like periodontics or pediatric dentistry. Dental hygienists can also pursue career paths such as teaching, researching, management, or marketing.

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