Dental Hygienists

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Also known as:
Dental Hygienist, Hygienist, Licensed Dental Hygienist, Pediatric Dental Hygienist, Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)

ABOUT DENTAL HYGIENIST CAREERS
Video transcript

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!

SNAPSHOT
Administer oral hygiene care to patients. Assess patient oral hygiene problems or needs and maintain health records. Advise patients on oral health maintenance and disease prevention. May provide advanced care such as providing fluoride treatment or administering topical anesthesia.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Maintain patient recall system.

Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.

Provide clinical services or health education to improve and maintain the oral health of patients or the general public.

Feel lymph nodes under patient's chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.

Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.

Feel and visually examine gums for sores and signs of disease.

Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease.

Chart conditions of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist.

Expose and develop x-ray film.

Clean calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums, using dental instruments.

Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
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.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
TOP SKILLS
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.