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Dental Hygienists

Dental Hygienists
Quick Facts : Dental Hygienists*
2010 Median Pay$68,250
Entry Level EducationAssociate's degree
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2012181,800
Job Outlook38% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change68,500

Dental hygienists take care of the cleaning aspect of oral health such as gingivitis. They examine patients for disease and provide other preventative dental care. In some cases, they remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They educate patients on proper oral hygiene and ways to maintain good oral health.

What Dental Hygienists Do

  • Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Apply sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Take and develop dental x rays
  • Keep track of patient care and treatment plans
  • Teach patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Work Environment

Almost all dental hygienists work in dentists' offices. Hygienists work closely with dentists and dental assistants.
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Job Outlook

Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 38 percent from 2010 to 2020 as dentists will hire more hygienists to perform routine dental care, thus allowing them to see more patients.
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The average salary of dental hygienists was $68,250 in May 2010.
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Dental Hygienists*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Dental Hygienists


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Dental Hygienists*
Percent Change in Employment

Dental Hygienists


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene to enter the occupation. Certificates, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees in dental hygiene are also available but are less common among dental hygienists. Private dental offices usually require a minimum of an associate's degree or certificate in dental hygiene. A bachelor's or master's degree is usually required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.
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