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Home » How To Become A Dental Hygienist: Career, Salary, and Education 2022

How To Become A Dental Hygienist: Career, Salary, and Education 2022

Dental Hygienist

How To Become A Dental Hygienist: Career, Salary, and Education 2022

If you are interested in a career in healthcare, there are many different roles to consider. One field you may want to work in is dental health. This is a field with many different roles, one of which is that of a dental hygienist.

These professionals play an important role in the prevention of dental health problems, as well as in the treatment of many problems. If this is a career you’re considering, here’s everything you need to know to become a dental hygienist, including training requirements, job information, and the potential salary of those who work in this position.

What Is A Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a licensed and qualified dental health professional. They may work alone or with other dental health professionals to promote good dental health and prevent or treat oral diseases.

What Does The Role Of A Dental Hygienist Entail?

The role of a dental hygienist is varied, and the exact roles and duties may vary from job to job. According to the ADA, some of the typical tasks you might expect to perform in the role of a dental hygienist include:

  • Promote positive dental health to individuals and groups.
  • Evaluation of the oral health of a patient.
  • Removal of tartar and plaque from the surface of the teeth.
  • Apply preventive measures.
  • Teach preventive strategies to patients.
  • Oral and general health history review.
  • Oral, head and neck inspection.
  • Making dental impressions of teeth for study models.
  • Administrative and record keeping tasks.

Some dental hygienists also have additional roles and duties depending on their qualifications, experience, work environment, and specialties. These may include:

  • Administer local anesthesia.
  • Screening of patients for oral cancer.
  • Realization and development of dental radiographs.

Reasons To Consider A Career As A Dental Hygienist

There are many benefits to choosing to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. Some of the reasons you may want to consider this career include:

  • Personal satisfaction: The role of a dental hygienist is rewarding, and those who work in this role derive personal satisfaction from helping people.
  • Patient Contact – This is a great job for those who want to work with people, as dental hygienists work with a diverse sample of the population.
  • Interesting and Varied – No two days are the same for a dental hygienist as they will perform different tasks to meet the needs of a patient.
  • Flexibility – There are options for full or part time positions for dental hygienists.
  • Job Options – You can work in a variety of settings and take on additional responsibilities, so options are available after qualification.
  • Profitable: Although a dental hygienist does not earn as much as a dentist, they earn significantly more than a dental assistant. This means that it is a financially rewarding role.
  • Professional Respect: The dental hygienist is a role that is respected by other healthcare professionals, as it is increasingly recognized that they play an important role in oral and general health care.
  • Job Opportunities: Dental hygienists are in increasing demand. There are more opportunities for dental hygienists than ever before due to the aging population and research on the links between oral and general health.
  • Challenging – A dental hygienist will face various challenges every day. While this sometimes makes for difficult work, it also makes it exciting and rewarding. Taking on these challenges can help you learn and become a better dental hygienist.

What is the salary of dental hygienists?

Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists earn up to $ 74,820 on average annually. If you divide this into hourly wage, dental hygienists earn $ 35.97 per hour. These numbers are pretty good, but they could go up or down depending on the location and dental clinic / hospital you are working with.

Meanwhile, according to Glassdoor Dental Hygienist Salaries by Companies , dental hygienists earn the following at their workplaces:

  • Educational Affiliates – $ 82,740
  • Aspen Dental – $ 65,260
  • Lockton Enterprises – $ 74,791
  • Florida Department of Health – $ 69,333
  • DentalOne Partners – $ 79,491

What qualifications are needed to become a dental hygienist?

Before embarking on a career as a dental hygienist, it is important that you understand the training requirements and qualifications you will need to achieve. 

According to Learn How to Become, the main qualification required to become a dental hygienist is an associate degree in dental hygiene that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. 

There are more options once you have received this degree to expand your skills and knowledge. These are often shorter courses and the least popular option is to complete a master’s degree in dental hygiene.

What experience do you need to become a dental hygienist?

According to, you don’t need any experience to start training and qualifying as a dental hygienist. However, gaining experience is an essential part of the qualification process. You will not be qualified or work with patients until you have gained the necessary experience and completed the necessary practical assessments.

What skills do you need to become a dental hygienist?

Before embarking on a career as a dental hygienist, you need to consider whether you have the right skills and attributes for the position. This will involve conducting a critical self-assessment. Some of the skills you need to become a dental hygienist are communication, critical thinking, decision-making, attention to detail, compassion, and dexterity.

How to become a dental hygienist?

There are only two steps to becoming a dental hygienist. College Grad says these are:

Earn an Associate’s Degree – The first step to becoming a dental hygienist is to complete an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. These can last between two and three years and involve a combination of theoretical and practical subjects. Throughout the degree, you will need to successfully complete a variety of assessments and exams to qualify.

Get Licensed – The second stage in becoming a dental hygienist is getting licensed. To practice as a dental hygienist, you must have a license that covers every state in the United States. The licensing requirements for each state vary.

While for some you only need evidence of successful completion of your degree, others require you to obtain additional certification before a license is granted. It is important that you verify these requirements before embarking on this career.

Once you have completed these two stages, you will be a licensed and qualified dental hygienist. This means that you can practice as a dental hygienist in any state in the United States. At this stage, you may also consider continuing your education to improve your skills. Bring you more knowledge and open up more career opportunities in the future.

What Are The Entry Requirements To Study A Bachelor’s Degree In Dental Health?

You can study for a degree in dental hygiene at a variety of educational institutions, including colleges, technical schools, and universities. The entry requirements in each of them will vary from one establishment to another. 

Therefore, it is vital that you check the requirements when choosing which courses to take before applying so that you can plan your education and career.

In most cases, the courses you have taken and the grades you have achieved as part of your high school education are important. Typically, to get a place on an associate’s degree in a dental health course, you will need good grades in math, biology, and chemistry.

What does an associate degree in dental hygiene entail?

Course programs for an associate’s degree in dental health can vary from educational establishment to educational establishment, so it is important that you compare the different options when making your choice. They can also vary in duration, some lasting two years and others three years.

 Some of the typical topics covered while studying for an associate degree in dental health include nutrition, physiology, periodontics, pathology, patient management, radiography, and medical ethics. Education is delivered in a variety of media, including in the classroom and in clinical settings. This is because the courses combine the academic and practical aspects of learning. Students can also spend some time in the labs.

How long does it take to become a dental hygienist?

The time it takes to become a dental hygienist can depend on a number of factors, including where you study, what course you take, and whether you have a specialization.

Although there are some degrees available that you can complete in two years, the usual duration of an associate degree in three years. After you meet the licensing requirements, you can practice as a dental hygienist.

Are there tests involved?

Throughout the course, you will undergo a continuous assessment of your skills and will be able to take tests at the end of each study topic to reinforce your learning. 

At the end of the degree, you will take a comprehensive written test, which is the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. You must successfully complete this to be qualified. You will also undergo a state or regional clinical board review.

Are all associate degrees the same?

Although all associate degrees in dental health achieve the same level of qualification, there are several different degrees within this category that you can choose from. Some of these include:

  • Dental x-ray
  • Dental hygiene clinic
  • Dental anatomy
  • Oral pathology
  • Prevention of oral diseases

Bachelor’s degree path

A bachelor’s degree differs from an associate’s degree in that it is more comprehensive and takes four years to complete.

Although many of the same topics are included, they are treated in a more comprehensive way and students also receive a broader education. The extra year is worth taking the time to complete because it will make you stand out in a competitive industry.

Where can you study to become a dental hygienist and can you qualify online?

More people than ever are taking online courses as a way to earn a grade. The reason they do this is because it means they don’t have to move for a course, they can study around family commitments, and they can learn as they earn. So is this an option if you want to become a dental hygienist?

In short, the answer to this is no. This is because there are practical elements to completing a degree in dental hygiene that you will need to learn under supervision.

However, Learn How to Become notes that online courses can play a role in the ongoing professional development of a dental hygienist. Online courses are a way for seasoned professionals to learn about advancements in their profession or gain accreditation to work in different settings.

So where can someone study to qualify to become a qualified dental hygienist? You can study at any educational establishment that offers a degree in dental hygiene accredited by the Dental Hygiene Commission.

Are there different types of dental hygienists?

There are no different types of dental hygienists, but a dental hygienist can take courses as part of their ongoing professional development to specialize in certain aspects of dental hygiene.

For example, they may specialize in the area of ​​oral cancer or the treatment of children. Having additional qualifications and specialties can expand your future career opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions: How To Become A Dental Hygienist?

Is it hard to become a dental hygienist?

Dental hygiene classes require a high level of commitment. You will need to learn a great deal of course material in a short period. Being a dental hygienist is a gratifying job, but it can be a bit difficult. It’s nothing that you can’t handle with the proper degree of motivation, and patience.

Do dental hygienist get paid well?

Dental hygienists are very well-paid, making it onto the list of $100k jobs that don’t require a degree. The median salary for a dental hygienist is $102,375. Entry-level positions start at $81,515, while more experienced dental hygienists earn up to $122,850 per year.

What is the work of dental hygienist?

Dental hygienists help to prevent dental decay by cleaning patients’ teeth and providing them with education about how to care effectively for their teeth and gums, and the effects of diet on oral health. Dental hygienists need excellent interpersonal skills as well as manual dexterity.

Do dental hygienists make more than nurses?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), across the U.S., registered nurses had a slightly higher wage than dental hygienists. The mean annual salary for registered nurses was $80,010. Meanwhile, dental hygienists had a mean annual wage of $78,050.

Is dental hygiene a stressful job?

More than half of dental hygienists feel stressed by their jobs on a daily or weekly basis, and 67% believe a supervisor or workload is the cause of the stress, according to a survey conducted by RDH eVillage in January 2015. A silver lining is that the stress does not spill over into dental hygienists’ personal lives.

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