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Dental Hygienist Schools and Programs

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

You've probably been to a dental hygienist at some point in your life, if you haven't, go now, before your teeth fall out! In fact, doctors report a strong link between dental hygiene and overall health. That makes the role of dental hygienists extremely important. Dental hygienists perform the following duties:
  • Clean teeth by removing plaque and tartar
  • Examine patients
  • Sometimes, take x-rays to search for cavities or other problems
If they find disease or any other abnormality, they record it for further examination by a dentist. Some States also allow dental hygienists to perform these tasks:
  • Administer anesthetics to patients
  • Remove sutures
  • Place and fit filling materials

Career Outlook for Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists enjoy one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of dental hygienist jobs will grow 36% from 2008-2018. As the health care and dental industries change to meet the needs of a growing (and older) population, dental hygienists now perform some tasks traditionally performed by dentists.

Potential Salary for a Dental Hygienist

You can experience excellent earning potential working in dental hygiene. The average dental hygienist earns $67,860 annually. The middle 50% of dental hygienists earn $55,620 to $79,990 a year, and the top 10% earn more than $92,860 annually.

Required Degree to Become a Registered Dental Hygienist

Most dental hygienist programs culminate with an associate's degree, although some programs grant a certificate instead. You must complete an accredited dental hygiene program to work in a private dental practice. To work in clinical practice at a public or school health program, conduct research, or teach, you usually need a bachelor's or master's degree.