A thorough dental hygienist job description provides an overview of what can be expected of dental hygienists. These professionals are responsible for regular dental cleanings, taking x-rays, making patients feel comfortable about going to the dentist, for communicating cleaning results to the dentist, and for showing patients how to effectively care for their teeth.

After reading this article the reader will know what these professionals do, the skills needed, the education required, the work environment, typical salary, and job outlook of dental hygienists.

Dental hygienist smiling towards the camera.

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

As the dental hygienist job description outlines, this professional sees patients, applies preventative treatment to teeth, communicates findings of dental cleanings to the dentist, and educates on proper oral health. These professionals work during the day. Almost half of dental hygienists work part-time. The most common certification is an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. They are required to be licensed. The median salary is $72,330 and benefits are only common for full-time hygienists.

Dental Hygienist Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

When writing a resume, the following job expectations will look positive on the resume.

  • Provide regular dental care to patients.
  • Safely take x-rays by using protective gear on the patient and keeping others out of the room.
  • Develop a relationship with patients to reduce anxiety about going to the dentist.
  • Clearly communicate the procedures that will be done and confidently tell patients about possible risks or discomforts.
  • Communicate with other members of the dental team about findings of the patient examination and record troublesome areas for the dentists.
  • Make molds of the mouth for whitening or straightening devices that improve teeth.
  • Educate patients about how to take care of their teeth at home, particularly for gum disease or whitening procedures.

Capabilities required for the job are a very important part of a dental hygienist job description. The following skills are considered necessary for these professionals.

Dental Hygienist Essential Skills

Dexterity skills. Dental hygienists complete their patient work inside the mouth. This requires them to have excellent fine motor control of their hands and fingers so as to be precise in cleaning teeth and not irritating surrounding areas. The movements they have to complete need to be precise as to not impact another part of the mouth.

Bedside Manner skills. Many patients are extremely nervous about dental procedures. Dental hygienists must be able to reassure patients that their concerns are valid but the upmost care will be taken to minimize discomfort and pain.

Problem-Solving skills. Dental hygienists will frequently have to solve problems to arrive at a solution for what is wrong with a patient. This may be done in consultation with a dentist, but they can have significant independence in diagnosing and deciding treatment.

Organizational skills. Dental hygienists need to develop a work-flow that allows them to know which teeth they have already cleaned and what procedures still need to be completed. Being organized and taking good records of what has been done are essential to ensuring good outcomes and optimal patient care.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Including how to become a dental hygienist in the job description is valuable information for those seeking a new career. These professionals need to have their degree in dental hygiene and be licensed in their respective state. Every state has different licensing requirements. They are expected to complete continued professional development to maintain their license. Dental hygienists need to have knowledge of the field and the ability to apply that knowledge in practice.

Education & Training Requirements

Students who are interested in becoming a dental hygienist should concentrate on science courses and consider volunteering in health care settings to gain patient care experience. A degree in dental hygiene is required. There are numerous paths to this degree. The majority of dental hygienists have their associate’s degree, but some earn a bachelor’s degree. There are over 300 accredited dental hygiene programs at a variety of post-secondary institutions.

After students earn their degree, they must become licensed to practice dental hygiene. For the most part, there is not an additional exam to earn their license. Passing coursework and clinical examinations is sufficient for licensing. An additional certificate dental hygienists are expected to have is CPR.

The continuing education that dental hygienists must complete varies by state. However, all states require some level of continuing education. The American Dental Hygiene Association offers many courses, including some that can be included online.

Work Experience

Dental hygienists are able to get a job without experience. In school, they get experience with clinical rotations. In these rotations, they are supervised by their instructors and dentists so that they can learn while in school. It is not difficult to get hired without experience, however, these hygienists may not be hired into specialty or leadership roles at the entry-level.

Most dental hygiene programs require students to complete a year of college before they enter their degree program. Through this education, the students can take essential general education courses to complement their degree program. For dental hygienists who want to teach or take on a management role, they will need additional education and experience.

Work Schedules

The dental hygienist job description reveals that work schedules vary depending on if they are part-time or full-time. Part-time professionals will frequently work for two or more dentists. They may work day, evening, or weekend hours. Whatever hours they work, their schedule remains relatively stable. Extra hours are a rare event for hygienists. They typically do not have to be on call, but may get called into work if their colleague has to take off work. Due to the high demand for hygienists, they frequently have flexibility in their working schedule. These professionals are respected and need to take frequent breaks to maintain concentrate in their job.

Career Prospects

Dental hygienists report a high degree of job satisfaction and receive good pay. They have a flexible job and command respect for the work they do. One of the negative aspects of being a dental hygienist is that receiving benefits is not common. This is due to the high amount of part-time employees. According to Payscale, 34% have medical insurance, 42% have dental insurance, and 11% have vision insurance.

The industry is a sound choice because it is predicted to grow 19% by the year 2024. Recent research showing links between oral health and general health have put a focus on the importance of visiting the dentist. Dental hygienists typically advance to be instructors in schools, office managers, or nurse practitioners.

The median salary is $72,330. The salary increases with more experience. Entry-level hygienists will receive a pay of about $62,000 and hygienists with more than 20 years will earn more than $73,000. It is worth it to invest in the education to become a dental hygienist because the demand is high and the education required is no longer than a typical post-secondary degree, the return on investment is high.


In concluding this dental hygienist job description they are valued members of the dental office and are responsible for providing preventive care such as cleaning and flossing patient teeth. Dental hygienists receive their degree in dental hygiene and take continuing education classes to keep their license active. These professionals enjoy a nice work/life balance and a good salary, but they frequently have to work two jobs to make full-time hours.