Dental hygienists provide education and clinical services to promote optimal oral
health. They provide treatment to help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and other
oral health problems. While they most typically work in private dental offices and
clinics, dental hygienists also may find employment in health departments, hospitals,
nursing homes, school districts, corporate settings, military services, correctional facilities or dental education facilities. Their responsibilities include:
• patient screening procedures, such as review of the health history, dental charting
and taking blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
• making and developing dental radiographs (X-rays).
• removing calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from the teeth.
• applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g. fluoride and sealants).
• teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene techniques to maintain and improve
• counseling patients regarding good nutrition and its impact on oral health.
• counseling patients regarding the link of oral health to serious systematic health
• performing office management duties.
Average Salary Range
$25,000 – $56,000
Students intending to pursue a career as a dental hygienist should prepare by taking challenging science, math and English courses. Dental hygienists receive their education through accredited academic programs at community colleges or universities. The majority of community college programs take two years to complete, with
graduates receiving associate degrees. This degree allows the hygienist to become eligible for licensure examination.
University-based dental hygiene programs may offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees, each requiring at least two additional years each of further schooling. These advanced degrees are required for careers in teaching, research and public health programs.Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. This exam is a clinical examination involving patient care.Additionally, most states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the written Dental Hygiene National Board Examination.
American Dental Hygiene Association
444 N. Michigan Ave., #3400
Chicago, IL 60611