What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Learn all about Dental Hygienist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Dental Hygienist.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A dental hygienist is a professional who works to clean and maintain the health of teeth and gums. They may also work to educate patients on how to best take care of their oral health.

Dental Hygienist job duties include:

  • Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Apply preventive materials to teeth such as sealants and fluorides
  • Educate patients on proper oral hygiene
  • Take X-rays of patients’ teeth
  • Document dental histories
  • Examine patients for signs of oral disease such as gingivitis
  • Remove calculus and hardened plaque from teeth below the gumline
  • Scale and polish teeth
  • Administer local anesthesia

Dental Hygienist Job Requirements

A dental hygienist is a vital part of every dentist's office. They are responsible for cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and educating patients on proper oral hygiene. Most dental hygienists have an Associate's degree in Dental Hygiene. Some states require dental hygienists to be licensed. In order to become a licensed dental hygienist, one must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program and pass a written and clinical exam. Most dental hygienists have 1-2 years of experience working in a dentist's office.

Dental Hygienist Skills

  • Motivating patients
  • Providing oral hygiene instruction
  • Applying sealants and fluorides
  • Scaling and root planing
  • Taking dental radiographs
  • Charting dental conditions
  • Identifying oral health concerns
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Sterilizing instruments
  • Selecting materials
  • Making impressions

Related: Top Dental Hygienist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Dental Hygienist

A career as a dental hygienist is a great choice for those who are interested in working in the dental field. Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and providing preventative care to patients. They also work closely with dentists to provide quality care.

Becoming a dental hygienist requires completing an accredited dental hygiene program. These programs typically take two to three years to complete and include coursework in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and other sciences. Upon completion of a dental hygiene program, students must pass a national board examination to become licensed.

Dental hygienists must be detail-oriented and have good hand-eye coordination. They must also be able to work well under pressure and have excellent communication skills. If you are interested in becoming a dental hygienist, research accredited programs in your area and get started on your path to this rewarding career!

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