What Is A Dental Hygienist? (Job Description and Requirements)

What is a Dental Hygienist?  Have you ever wondered this? 

Or maybe you are just curious if this career is something you might want to pursue.

I have made a life long career of Dental Hygiene and I am here to explain the job description and requirements in detail.

Essential functions and responsibilities of the job will be provided.  I will explain the care given to the patients, typical job demands and typical working conditions.

I will go into detail about the job description of a Dental Hygienist and the requirements to become one.

Also, in this article I am going to explain all the prerequisites needed in order to obtain a position as a Dental Hygienist.

You can learn more about me and my Dental Hygiene career on the About the Author page.What Is A Dental Hygienist

Summary of Position

A Dental Hygienist will provide dental hygiene services including educational, therapeutic methods and preventative services for the control of oral disease.

The goal is to help individuals achieve and maintain optimal oral health.

You can see the definition of a Dental Hygienist here from Wikipedia.

Oral health is defined as the absence of disease in the mouth. 

Such disease processes include:  cavities, gum disease and oral cancer. 

A dental hygienist strives to treat and prevent such ailments from occurring in their patients.

Some people are better suited for this position than others.

In addition to a degree and license (which I will discuss shortly), a Dental Hygienist will do well if they have a certain set of skills.

This is a healthcare position and those who work in this occupation need a desire to help others.

The ability to relate to people is important. A compassionate and caring individual will thrive in this field.

A few other skill sets are important. These include great attention to detail and manual dexterity to be able to complete a thorough cleaning and work inside patients’ mouths.

Essential Responsibilities

Patient care is a priority. This includes:

  • Setting up and preparing the treatment room according to OSHA standards.
  • Performing a prophylaxis (cleaning) on a child or adult. This includes removing deposits from above and below the gum line that may contribute to disease. These deposits are generally food debris, bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar).
  • Polishing to remove accretions and stain from all surfaces of the teeth and flossing all teeth.
  • Educated patients on ways they can improve their oral health and answering questions in regard to their oral health.
  • Teaching patients good home care techniques so that they may maintain oral health.
  • Helping patients to feel at ease during their appointment and addressing all concerns.
  • Teaching patients about diet and nutrition for optimal oral and overall health.
  • Taking diagnostic digital x rays prescribed by the Dentist including bitewings, periapical and panoramic x rays.
  • Taking intraoral camera and video images as a diagnostic tool for the Dentist.
  • Performing evaluations of intra and extra oral tissues and report findings to the Dentist.
  • Recording periodontal findings and evaluate patients’ gum health by measuring and recording pocket depths.
  • Performing fluoride treatments as prescribed by the Dentist and applying sealants on teeth to prevent decay.
  • Providing local anesthetic as necessary under the supervision of the Dentist.
  • Cleaning up after patient care and sterilizing instruments
  • Performing daily maintenance on tools and equipment.
  • Practicing the recommended safeguards for personal and patient safety.
  • Computer entries involving charges, scheduling, treatment planning, health histories and insurance information.
  • Record keeping and documentation of all patient information.

Performance RequirementsWhat Is A Dental Hygienist

Education

You will need to be a graduate of an accredited Dental Hygiene school.

This may be an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. A master’s degree in Dental Hygiene is also available but less common.

An associate degree will allow you to practice Dental Hygiene in a clinical setting.

You will need a bachelor’s or master’s if you desire to hold a position that involves teaching Dental Hygiene in a public or school health program.

License/Certificate

In addition to being a graduate of an accredited school, a current state license is required.

In order to obtain a state license, you will need to have passed state and national board exams.

A current state license is required. This license is good for a period of two years.

After each two years, a fee is paid to the state in order to renew it.

Fees vary by state but on average are around $100.

You will also need to obtain a certificate to administer local anesthesia.

Skills, Knowledge and Abilities

  • Professional skills with patient contact is necessary.
  • A polite, friendly and personable demeanor is beneficial.
  • Knowledge of computer skills are required. You will be trained in the software for the particular office that you work in.
  • You must be organized and able to stay on schedule.
  • You will need the ability to operate x ray equipment, intra oral cameras, instruments, ultrasonic scalers, polishers, hand pieces and other equipment as needed.
  • A great attention to detail is necessary using tactile and visual senses.
  • You must be able to concentrate and focus.
  • You will need to be able to follow directions closely as given to you by the Dentist.
  • Being able to work well with others will make you a valued employee.
    What Is A Dental Hygienist

What a Dental Hygienist Is

A Dental Hygienist is a professional health care provider who helps people improve their oral health.

By helping people improve their oral health, a Dental Hygienist is also helping to improve their overall health.

Our mouths are connected to our bodies and the mouth is often referred to as a window to our bodies.

Oral disease can manifest itself in many ways contributing to many diseases of the human body.

By choosing to become a Dental Hygienist, you will be making the commitment to helping others. This is the most rewarding feature of this career and is what attracted me, personally to this line of work.

I encourage you to explore this very gratifying career choice. Please read more about oral hygiene and oral health solutions at oralprobioticheath.com.

Thank you for reading and please leave me a comment or question below and I will be happy to help you!

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4 Replies to “What Is A Dental Hygienist? (Job Description and Requirements)”

  1. I have had several visits to the dentist my entire life.  One day it dawned on me that I should actually have pursued dentistry. I became fascinated by the results of a tooth extraction, cleaning and replacement. I see that to be a dental hygienist is not for the faint hearted. I can imagine cleaning decayed teeth or a mouth with bad breath! But I believe if one is passionate enough, these will not be obstacles. Thank you for putting together what the requirements are and how to go about getting a licence. Great article!

    1. Carol,

      Thanks for your comment.  To become a Dental Hygienist is definitely not for the faint hearted as you say.  It takes education, training and experience to succeed.  This is a very rewarding position and is worth all the hard work and effort.  I appreciate your input.

      Michelle 

  2. Hello there and thanks for sharing this educational post. The human teeth are a very important aspect of our being and should be kept in good condition always. However, the hygiene of ones mouth isn’t well understood by most people. Coming to the topic, I see a dental hygienist as a very calm and orderly person because it requires lots of care and patience to take on such a job. I actually have a daughter who wishes to be in the dental field and I’d love to show her this post so she can understand this better.

    1. Dane, 

      Thank you for reading and commenting on What Is A Dental Hygienist? (Job Description and Requirements).  Please do share this information with your daughter.  This article discusses an in depth look at the many duties of this position and it may help answer any questions she may have.

      Thanks,

      Michelle 

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