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Career Profile: Dental Hygienists

Administer oral hygiene care to patients. Assess patient oral hygiene problems or needs and maintain health records. Advise patients on oral health maintenance and disease prevention. May provide advanced care such as providing fluoride treatment or administering topical anesthesia.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 206,100 people employed as dental hygienists in the United States. The median annual salary is $77,100. Entry level employees earn approximately $54,200 per year and senior employees earn approximately $104,420 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Place and remove rubber dams, matrices, and temporary restorations.
  • Make impressions for study casts.
  • Remove sutures and dressings.
  • Record and review patient medical histories.
  • Feel and visually examine gums for sores and signs of disease.
  • Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease.
  • Clean calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums, using dental instruments.
  • Provide clinical services or health education to improve and maintain the oral health of patients or the general public.
  • Chart conditions of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist.
  • Expose and develop x-ray film.
  • Attend continuing education courses to maintain or update skills.
  • Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.
  • Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.
  • Maintain patient recall system.
  • Feel lymph nodes under patient's chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.
  • Administer local anesthetic agents.
  • Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.
  • Conduct dental health clinics for community groups to augment services of dentist.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
206,100
Annual Openings:
15,600
Increase in Openings by 2030:
11%
Annual Salary Range:
$54,200 - $104,420
Education Requirements:
Associate's degree