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Dental Hygienist

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What is a Dental Hygienist?

Occupation Description Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop x rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.

A Day in the Life of a Dental Hygienist

  • Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.
  • Feel and visually examine gums for sores and signs of disease.
  • Record and review patient medical histories.
  • Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.
  • Feel lymph nodes under patient’s chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.
  • Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.

Dental Hygienist Needed Skills

When polled, Dental Hygienists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Types of Dental Hygienist

  • Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
  • Registered Dental Hygienist, Part Time Clinical Faculty
  • Dental Hygienist, Mobile Coordinator
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Nurse

What Kind of Dental Hygienist Job Opportunities Are There?

In the United States, there were 207,900 jobs for Dental Hygienist in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 19.7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 41,000 new jobs for Dental Hygienist by 2026. There will be an estimated 17,500 positions for Dental Hygienist per year.

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The states with the most job growth for Dental Hygienist are Arizona, Maryland, and Utah. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Mississippi, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make?

Dental Hygienists make between $51,930 and $101,820 a year.

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Dental Hygienists who work in Alaska, California, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Dental Hygienists in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $46,500
Alaska $114,320
Arizona $85,890
Arkansas $71,090
California $100,830
Colorado $84,510
Connecticut $83,630
Delaware $78,550
District of Columbia $81,270
Florida $64,070
Georgia $65,650
Hawaii $77,920
Idaho $74,430
Illinois $72,640
Indiana $68,000
Iowa $68,870
Kansas $64,980
Kentucky $59,910
Louisiana $59,810
Maine $65,500
Maryland $85,240
Massachusetts $82,750
Michigan $64,130
Minnesota $74,240
Mississippi $57,860
Missouri $68,820
Montana $74,350
Nebraska $65,870
Nevada $81,270
New Hampshire $79,560
New Jersey $85,860
New Mexico $75,860
New York $76,280
North Carolina $69,500
North Dakota $72,580
Ohio $68,310
Oklahoma $73,990
Oregon $85,280
Pennsylvania $67,010
Rhode Island $74,650
South Carolina $61,440
South Dakota $64,580
Tennessee $66,290
Texas $75,300
Utah $69,490
Vermont $72,490
Virginia $79,640
Washington $90,690
West Virginia $57,740
Wisconsin $65,540
Wyoming $69,620

What Tools do Dental Hygienists Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Dental Hygienists may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Scheduling software
  • Inventory management software
  • Henry Schein Dentrix
  • Patterson Dental Supply Patterson EagleSoft
  • Dental clinical records software
  • Dental imaging software
  • Dental intra-oral imaging software
  • Voice-activated perio charting software
  • Dental charting software
  • Dental digital radiology software

How do I Become a Dental Hygienist?

What kind of Dental Hygienist requirements are there?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Dental Hygienists Sector

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The table below shows the approximate number of Dental Hygienists employed by various industries.

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Those interested in being a Dental Hygienist may also be interested in:

Those who work as a Dental Hygienist sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:

References:

Image Credit: Sgt. Dallas Edwards via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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