Tips on Becoming a Dental Hygienist

If you are compassionate, detailed, and enjoy helping people, then you may enjoy a career as a dental hygienist. The dental hygienist works alongside the dentist and has the primary task of cleaning the patients’ teeth. Their main focus then is on good oral hygiene. In this career field, hygienists are rewarded well financially, with the average salary fixed at around $60,000 per year.

Becoming a dental hygienist is an increasingly popular pursuit as graduates can expect to find a job quite easily. The schedule is flexible too as approximately 50% of hygienists who choose to work in the field do so by working part-time.

Duties and Responsibilities

When cleaning teeth, the dental hygienist removes the deposits that build up on the teeth and demonstrates good oral hygiene practices and preventive care to their patients. They also assist the dentist by noting the presence of disease. Becoming a dental hygienist entails learning about a variety of tools and equipment that are used on the job. For instance, rotary and manual instruments and ultrasonic-type equipment are used for cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth. These instruments help remove the plaque and tartar during a cleaning session.

The dental hygienist job also entails using x-ray equipment to obtain images of the teeth. Sometimes the dental hygienist is also called upon to develop the x-rays as well. In addition, dental hygienists are required to apply sealants and fluorides as preventative measures. Other duties performed by hygienists can depend on the locale where they live. For example, in some areas, hygienists are permitted to dispense anesthetics to patients, make temporary fillings, or remove sutures.


If you are thinking about becoming a dental hygienist, you will typically work in a hygienic and clean working environment. You must take proper care to practice safety as well. Dental hygienists must wear protective equipment when dispensing anesthetics for instance and masks and gloves to shield themselves from infection.

Flexible Working Hours

As mentioned, if you are thinking of becoming a dental hygienist, you will be paid well and will have the latitude of working a flexible shift. Hygienists work full or part-time, day or evening as well as weekends. Dentists often employ hygienists to work a couple days out of the week in their office. Therefore, around 50% of the hygienists employed work less than 35 hours on any given week.

Education and What to Study

While still in high school, potential hygienists should concentrate on signing up and concentrating on courses in math, biology, and chemistry. University coursework should emphasize courses in biology and science in addition to coursework in anatomy and psychology.

Many online and brick-and-mortar colleges offer associates of science degrees in dental hygiene. However, to progress financially, it’s best to complete a baccalaureate degree. All dental hygiene programs will prepare the student to sit and test for state licensure. Programs therefore focus on such topics and subjects as dental materials, radiology, oral hygiene, and sedation.

Some learning institutions provide dental hygiene internships, or, experience working in a dental office to make it simpler for students to transition into a job after they graduate.

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