Dental Hygienist


October 30, 2016

Health, Jobs

Dental Hygienist Job Description

The primary job task of a dental hygienist is to clean teeth.  This is done using a series of picks, scrapers, polishing tools and deep-cleaning devices. Other important duties include educating patients on proper dental hygiene practices; reviewing patient charts; preparing dental molds and X-rays; applying fluoride treatments and dental sealants to teeth; performing dental examinations for cavities, gum disease and other problems; and assisting the dentist.  This job field requires good communication skills, manual dexterity and the ability to interact positively with clients. In addition to providing care to patients, a dental hygienist might occasionally be called upon to perform basic office administration tasks including answering the office telephone, assisting with scheduling appointments, locating patient records and supporting other office staff members in their work.

Dental Hygienist Salary Statistics as of 2015

Median annual salary for a Dental Hygienist is $59,665 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest salary recorded was $88,572. The lowest salary reported was $42,904. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Median hourly wage for a Dental Hygienist is $31 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest hourly wage recorded was $43. The lowest hourly wage recorded was $23. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Bonuses for a Dental Hygienist are based on the years of experience using statistics from the U.S. as of 2015. The biggest bonus recorded was $401 from someone with 15+ years of experience. The smallest bonus recorded was $0 from someone with under 1 year of experience.

These are the top 5 highest paying states for a Dental Hygienist. These numbers are based off the median annual salary as of 2015.
1. California – $32,311 – $90,412
2. Texas – $41,252 – $70,184
3. Georgia – $28,231 – $73,157
4. New York – $30,633 – $72,732
5. Florida – $29,987 – $58,770

These are the top 5 highest paying cities for a Dental Hygienist. These numbers are based off the median annual salary as of 2015.
1. Atlanta, Georgia – $20,273 – $78,511
2. Chicago, Illinois – $52,958 – $66,978
3. San Francisco, California – $67,323 – $94,152
4. Pittsburg Pennsylvania – $41,597 – $51,879
5. Houston, Texas – $40,226 – $55,009

This chart outlines the average annual salary of a Dental Hygienist from the past 5 years. In 2015 the average annual salary was $63,780 while in 2008 it was just $60,200.

Specialized Fields

There are few areas of specialization in the field of dental hygiene.  All dental hygienists perform the same basic tasks.  Some dental offices specialize in serving specific clientele, such as adult, pediatric or family dentistry.  Periodontists are dentists who specialize in dental diseases.  A dental hygienist may work for any of these types of dental practices, but the basic job duties remain the same no matter which type of clients the office serves.

Work Environment

Dental hygienists work in a dental office as part of the staff of a licensed dentist.  The exact details of the work environment of a dental hygienist are determined by the dentist or office manager of the dental office for which they work.  A dental office might be a stand-alone building, or it might be located in a medical center or retail space.  Most dental hygienists work during regular weekday business hours, and most work part time.  Only around 40 percent of dental hygienists work full time.  Some dental offices offer extended evening or weekend hours, so some evening or weekend work may be required.  Usually little or no travel is necessary, unless the dental office has multiple branch locations.  In that case, travel between branch offices may be required.  Dental hygienists typically wear medical scrubs or office attire as dictated by the standards of their particular place of employment.  All dental hygienists wear surgical masks, safety glasses and gloves while cleaning teeth and examining patients.  Other protective clothing such as a lab coat or head covering might also be worn.

How To Become a Dental Hygienist

The American Dental Association (ADA) provides accreditation for over 300 dental hygienist training programs in the United States.  A searchable list may be found on the ADA website.  Every state has at least one school with an accredited dental hygiene program.  Courses taken to become a dental hygienist include biology, chemistry, human anatomy, and other medical and dental classes.  A significant percentage of the education process includes hands on training in dental cleaning and other related procedures.  Most states require at least an Associate Degree to become licensed as a dental hygienist.  Advanced degrees in dental hygiene are available at some schools, but are generally not necessary to become licensed and employed as a dental hygienist.  Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed.  The licensure requirements vary from state to state, but generally include graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program and passage of written and applied examinations.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 182,000 dental hygienists in the United States in 2010. The number of dental hygienists is expected to increase by 38 percent between 2010 and 2020. This rate of growth is faster than the average growth rate predicted for all occupations. The employment prospects for dental hygienists are closely tied to economic cycles. During times of economic slowdown or recession, dental offices usually see a decline in their clientele. This decline carries over to dental hygienists and other office staff, and can result in reduced work hours or reduced job opportunities.

Gender Statistics

Dental Hygienist Health Benefits



Based on our stats gathered across the U.S. 4% of Dental Hygienists were females while 96% were males. These numbers are based on averages across all states combined. Some individual states may have a much different ratio however.
Health: 37%
Dental: 48%

Eye: 13%
None: 38%


Dental Hygienist Jobs




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