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Dental Hygienist

What they do:

Dental hygienists mainly deal with preventative care when it comes to oral health. Dental hygienists:

  • educate patients on the proper ways to brush and floss

  • offer guidance on the best over-the-counter products used for oral health

  • remove tartar, stains and plaque from teeth during cleanings

  • administer x-rays

  • examine patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis

  • may do filling in some states

Hygienists work closely with dentists and dental assistants, so good communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team are certainly helpful.


  • Most dental hygienists have an associate’s degree in dental hygiene.

  • Increasingly students are pursuing bachelor and master’s degrees to further their career.

  • Following formal education, it is preferable to receive some practical experience (such as an internship) in a dental office.

  • Licensure in the state in which you will work is necessary.

What they make:

Hygienists make comfortable salaries, especially considering that half of them work part-time. In 2015, their median salary was $72,330. The best-paid earned about $98,440, and the bottom 10 percent earned $50,140.

Where they work:

  • Dentist offices

  • Outpatient care centers

  • Ambulatory health care services


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation will grow 19% by 2024, which is much faster than the average growth rate for most professions.



Updated February 2017