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How to become a Dental Hygienist

dental hygienist careers

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Dental hygienists provide clinical and educational care for individuals and groups of patients in the community. They work alongside and under the instruction of dentists in clinical settings which include general practice, the community dental service, hospitals, industry and the Armed Forces.

Dental hygiene can include removing plaque and calculus, polishing teeth, applying antibacterial agents, administering local anaesthetic under supervision of a registered dentist, and applying temporary coatings and sealants. They can take x-rays, and may be assisted by a dental nurse.

Throughout their work dental hygienists use a range of dental instruments and ensure that sterile conditions are maintained at all times.

What's the working environment like working as a Dental Hygienist?

Hours worked are usually 8.30am-5pm with occasional evening and Saturday work. Those working in hospitals may have to work shifts or be on-call. Part-time work is possible, and self-employment may be an option.

Community dental work may involve some travel. Self- employed hygienists may work for a number of practices. Protective clothing is worn.

What does it take to become a Dental Hygienist?

To be a dental hygienist you should:

  • be genuinely interested in the welfare of your patients
  • have a real interest and ability in science
  • have a high level of manual dexterity and good eyesight
  • be able to concentrate for long periods of time
  • have excellent communication skills to explain treatment to patients and instruct people on dental hygiene
  • be friendly and sympathetic to put anxious patients at ease
  • be able to relate well to a wide range of people including children and people with special needs
  • be able to work well in a team.

Dental Hygienist Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Dental Hygienist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
Bristol
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655
www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

School of Professionals Complementary to Dentistry
St George's Building
141 High Street
Portsmouth
PO1 2HY
Tel: 023 9284 5222
www.port.ac.uk

British Dental Hygienists’ Association (BDHA)
Mobbs Miller House
Ardington Road
Northampton
NN1 5LP
www.bdha.org.uk

The General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street
London
W1G 8DQ
Tel: 020 7887 3800
www.gdc-uk.org

Courses to help you become a Dental Hygienist