Dental hygienists provide dental care that promotes good oral health and helps prevent or repair problems with patients’ teeth. A typical day involves examining patients’ teeth and gums for cavities and disease, cleaning and polishing teeth, and teaching patients proper brushing and flossing techniques. Hygienists wear gloves, safety glasses and surgical masks, and follow strict safety procedures at all times. Most take x-rays of patients’ teeth. To be successful in this profession, you must be detail-oriented, and have the ability to work well with your hands. You can expect daily interaction with many different people from all walks of life. While almost all dental hygienists work in dentists offices, about half work part-time. Since dentists often hire hygienists for a few days per week, some hygienists work for more than one dentist to reach full-time hours in the field. An associate’s degree in dental hygiene is required for this profession, and usually takes three years to complete. All states also require dental hygienists to be licensed. In this career, you’ve got your patient’s back… or rather, their teeth!
What they do:
Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop x rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.
On the job, you would:
Clean calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums, using dental instruments.
Record and review patient medical histories.
Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease.
medicine and dentistry
sales and marketing
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
talking to others
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
looking for ways to help people
understanding people's reactions
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Hand and Finger Use
put together small parts with your fingers
keep your arm or hand steady
pay attention to something without being distracted
do two or more things at the same time
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Dental charting software
Dental office management software
Electronic mail software
associate's degree or bachelor's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.