What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Dental hygienists are responsible for providing oral care to patients through examination, teeth cleaning, and other preventative dental services. Dental hygienists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, public health clinics, private dental offices, and dental schools.

Dental hygienists must have an associate's degree in dental hygiene from an accredited school. Additionally, dental hygienists must become licensed by becoming a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH). Requirements vary by state, but it is common to require the following to become an RDH: completion of an accredited dental hygienist program, certification in CPR, passing of a national exam, and passing of a state clinical exam.

  • Perform dental hygiene services and procedures, including dental prophylaxis, scaling, flouride and sealants, and root planning
  • Complete a thorough assessment of the patient's teeth, bone, and periodontal tissues, and document any abnormalities or suspected conditions
  • Customize care to meet patient's oral health
  • Educate patients on good oral hygiene techniques
  • Aid the dentist with procedures and emergencies as needed
  • Maintain patient confidentiality
  • Provide all care in conjunction with accepted professional dental practices and standards
  • Graduate of an accredited school of dental hygiene
  • Registered Dental Hygienist licensure in state of practice
  • Current CPR certification
  • 1-2 years of experience working in a dental practice
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Proven dedication to provide high quality, comprehensive dental care
  • Ability to comply with safety procedures, rules, and regulations in order to maintain a clean and safe working environment
  • Strong working knowledge of dental terminology, equipment, and practices
EducationAssociate's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.6 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.5 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Dental Hygienist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$70,000 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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Not enough salaries reported to show distribution
$70K
Median: $70K
$70K
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Dental Hygienist Career Path

Learn how to become a Dental Hygienist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Dental Hygienist
$70,000/yr
L4
Dental Hygienist IV
No Salary Reports
L5
Dental Hygienist V
No Salary Reports
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Dental Hygienist Insights

Read what Dental Hygienist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Bain Dental Group
Registered Dental Hygienist
2 Dec 2020

“We have the best staff that is knowledgeable and that go above and beyond for our patients.”

Howard Family DentalHoward Family Dental
Dental Hygienist
17 Apr 2021

“Great Doctor and staff to work with.”

Heartland DentalHeartland Dental
Registered Dental Hygienist
14 Dec 2020

“Having the ability and support to grow in your career as well as focusing on your own self mastery.”

Dental Excellence Integrative CenterDental Excellence Integrative Center
Registered Dental Hygienist
3 Dec 2020

“I get to go to the best CE classes and learn the most advanced techniques.”

ECOH ManagementECOH Management
Occupational Hygienist
1 Nov 2019

“Learning opportunity and good starting for career”

David Wood BakingDavid Wood Baking
Hygiene Operative
2 Mar 2021

“Management is terrible and do nothing”

NHSNHS
Dental Technician
18 Sep 2019

“Great work and life balance”

Heartland DentalHeartland Dental
Dental Hygienist
27 Sep 2019

“And good pay.”

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Dental Hygienist Interviews

Related Careers

Dentist
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13% skills overlap
Administrative Assistant
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Dental Assistant
$42,000
25% skills overlap
Receptionist
$45,000
13% skills overlap

Dental Hygienist jobs

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a dental hygienist

When working as a dental hygienist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are Sealants, Dentrix, Excellent Communication, CPR Certified and HIPAA.

The most similar professions to dental hygienist are:
  • Dentist
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Dental Assistant
  • Receptionist

The most common qualifications to become a dental hygienist is a minimum of a Associate's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.