Career Overview: Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists provide teeth cleaning services in a dentist's office. The job entails removing deposits on teeth, cleaning and polishing teeth through the use of ultrasound, an assortment of manual tools and electric rotary devices.
A dental hygienist will usually perform a detailed preliminary tooth and gum inspection prior to the dentist's examination of the patient. Hygienists take X-ray films, develop them, perform some basic procedures with cavities and in some states deliver injections. In many instances a dental hygienist will assist a dentist or periodontist during a surgical procedure.
Training & Qualifications
Dental hygiene training and education programs are available in the form of certification, an associates degree or a bachelors degree. Some programs require a year of college while others simply require high school completion. Depending on the level of training, a dental hygiene education can take two to four years.
All states require both a written and clinical exam for licensure. The written portion of the exam is given by The American Dental Association's Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations administers the written examination; the clinical test is given by various state or local agencies.
There were approximately 167,000 dental hygienists working in 2007, virtually all of them in dentist offices.
Dental hygiene is a rapidly growing field, in a market where there is already a shortage of trained personnel. The job outlook is excellent.
Lowest 10% $20.42 $42,480
Median Salary $31.12 $64,740
Highest 10% $43.07 $89,590
Source: U.S. Labor Department