Dental Hygiene Career Explorer

Job Description

Dental Hygienists perform oral health assessments, provide nutritional counseling and promote self-care programs to prevent oral disease. In addition, they provide treatment to the patient to include cleaning the teeth and placing dental sealants.

A person in this career:

  • Instructs patients on preventive care at home
  • Processes X-rays and prepares diagnostic aids
  • Removes deposits from teeth and applies sealants and fluoride to prevent decay
  • Performs oral cancer and blood pressure screenings  
  • Places and removes temporary fillings, removes periodontal dressings and removes sutures
  • Administers medication prescribed by the dentist
  • Records oral conditions
  • May administer CPR 

Working conditions and physical demands:

  • Physical abilities sufficient to move around rooms in the dental environment
  • Maneuver in small places
  • Work in enclosed spaces
  • Sit and work chair-side for long periods, reaching for equipment
  • Interact with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds
  • Use sharp hand instruments requiring repetitive, coordinated hand movements
  • Utilize hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back for at least eight hours per day 

Working in this career involves:

  • Communicating clearly enough to be able to be understood by others and understand them
  • Seeing clearly enough to see fine details
  • Hearing a variety of sounds at various pitches, with background noise present 

Work hours and travel

Regular working hours and limited travel

Salary Information 

Career at a Glance

Salary Range
$57,200 to $74,526

Skills Needed
Enjoy working with people
Enjoy hands-on patient care
Good problem-solving and communication skills
Organized and motivated

Job Duties
Performs oral health assessments
Takes and processes dental X-rays
Provides self–care programs to prevent disease
Provide treatment to patients to include cleaning teeth and placing sealants

Work Locations
Dental offices
Public health departments
Dental clinics