Dental Hygienists perform a variety of tasks. The typical Hygienist spends most of their time cleaning the teeth of others: removing calculus (tartar), plaque and stains from the teeth, and then polishing and flossing the teeth. Teaching patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and motivating them to do so, is an important aspect of their job. They also review the patient's health history.
Identifying problems such as cavities and oral cancer is another critical function they perform. They also might apply preventive materials such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth, or take and process X-rays. Some Hygienists might also remove sutures, or place and remove temporary fillings and periodontal dressings.
A California state license is required to practice this occupation. To become a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) one must complete an accredited program, pass both a written and clinical exam, and pass a criminal investigation.
Not all Hygienists work in dental offices. Other options include public health offices, educational institutions, and pediatrician's offices.
Other jobs available to those with training and experience as a Dental Hygienists include:
Researchers can study specific aspects of dental hygiene. They define research objectives and methodology, collect and analyze data, write articles for publication, write grant proposals.
Educators teach others by creating or editing educational materials, presenting the materials, and acting as consultants to dental companies.
Entry Level: $21 - 40/ hour ($34 / hour average)
Experienced, New to Job: $23 - 45 / hour ($35 / hour average)
Experienced in Job: $25 - 57 / hour ($39 / hour average)