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Dental Hygienists Career

Career Description

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.

What Job Titles Dental Hygienists Might Have

  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Mobile Coordinator
  • Hygienist
  • Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)

What Dental Hygienists Do

  • 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.
  • Feel and visually examine gums for sores and signs of disease.
  • Expose and develop x-ray film.
  • Chart conditions of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist.
  • Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.
  • Feel lymph nodes under patient's chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.
  • Provide clinical services or health education to improve and maintain the oral health of patients or the general public.
  • Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.
  • Maintain patient recall system.
  • Administer local anesthetic agents.
  • Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.
  • Conduct dental health clinics for community groups to augment services of dentist.

What Dental Hygienists Should Be Good At

  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

What Dental Hygienists Should Be Interested In

  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Dental Hygienists Need to Learn

  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Median Salary: $72,910

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.