What They Do:

Dental hygienists mainly deal with preventative care when it comes to oral health. Responsibilities include:

  • Educate patients on the proper ways to brush and floss

  • Offer guidance on the best over-the-counter products used for oral health

  • Remove tartar, stains and plaque from teeth during cleanings

  • Administer x-rays

  • Examine patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis

  • May do filling in some states

Hygienists work closely with dentists and dental assistants, so good communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team are certainly helpful.


  • Most dental hygienists have an associate’s degree in dental hygiene.

  • Increasingly students are pursuing bachelor and master’s degrees to further their career.

  • Following formal education, it is preferable to receive some practical experience (such as an internship) in a dental office.

  • Licensure in the state in which you will work is necessary.

What They Make:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median income was 76,220 per year.                                       

Where They Work:

  • Dentist offices

  • Outpatient care centers

  • Ambulatory health care services

Career Outlook:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation will grow 6% by 2029, which is much faster than the average growth rate for most professions.  



Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Hygienists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm (visited December 2020).


Updated December 2020