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Dental Hygienist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Dental Hygienist job description provides support services for patients who visit a dental office. Their duties include cleaning teeth and gums, treating gum disease and tooth decay and providing oral health information to patients.

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Dental Hygienist duties and responsibilities

A Dental Hygienist is the first point of contact when patients visit a dental clinic. Their duties include screening patients, educating them about their diet and how it impacts their oral health and counselling them during and after treatment. Dental Hygienists can also perform minor dental procedures such as cleaning the teeth and gums, removing plaque and fixing dentures. Other responsibilities include:

  • Counselling patients and keeping them calm during examination and treatment
  • Screening patients, including conducting mouth and neck examinations and reviewing oral health history
  • Educating patients on proper teeth and gum care and the importance of diet on oral health
  • Taking X-rays and developing dental impressions and radiographs of teeth
  • Sterilising dental instruments and equipment
  • Removing plaque, cleaning teeth and helping to prevent gum disease
  • Supporting the Dentist on all aspects of dental care
  • Staying current with the latest developments in dentistry
  • Collecting medical and dental histories from patients
  • Charting dental conditions based on observations and evaluations
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Dental Hygienist Job Description Examples:

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Dental Hygienists examine and clean patients’ teeth, offer advice and educate patients on how to take care of their gums and teeth to prevent dental decay and enhance their oral health. Dental Hygienists check patients for oral diseases such as tooth decay and gingivitis. After screening patients and determining the severity of any oral issues, the Dental Hygienists will write a report recommending a suitable treatment and send it to the Dentist. In many dental practices, Dental Hygienists will also take X-rays to support patients’ diagnosis and treatment.

Dental Hygienist skills and qualifications

Candidates often require a two or three year foundational Degree in Oral Health Sciences and must register with the General Dental Council (GDC) in order to practice. A successful Dental Hygiene candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed to perform duties effectively including:

  • A Degree in Oral Health Sciences from a GDC-approved programme or Diploma, Higher National Certificate (HNC ) equivalent in Dental Hygiene or Dental Therapy
  • Registration with the GDC
  • In-depth knowledge of medicine, dentistry, dental health and safety regulations
  • The skill to handle dental tools with accuracy
  • Attention to detail and the ability to stay calm under stressful conditions
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Knowledge of preparing and maintaining dental equipment
  • Physical stamina

Dental Hygienist experience requirements

A Dental Hygienist’s job requires outstanding knowledge of dental procedures and excellent communication skills. The role requires being able to work with patients of all ages before, during and after their diagnosis and treatment. Dental Hygienists must be thorough and detail-oriented, as these qualities are essential during oral examinations and procedures such as plaque removals. They must be good with their hands and skillful at using dental instruments inside the patient’s mouth.

Experienced Dental Hygienists will know how to apply local anesthetics under the Dentist’s supervision, clean and polish teeth, treat gum disease and apply sealants and coatings to improve the dental health of patients. Dental Hygienists must be able to maintain a sterile environment, maintain dental equipment and review and update patient records. They must also be able to educate and advise patients on proper ways to care for their teeth and encourage them to follow treatments correctly.

Dental Hygienist education and training requirements

Dental Hygienists require a two year foundation Degree in Oral Health Sciences or Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy or a three year degree in the same discipline. Candidates can also hold a diploma of higher education HNC equivalent to qualify for employment. To practice as a Dental Hygienist, candidates must register with the GDC after completing a program accredited by the body. Dental Hygienists often require a thorough background checks because they work closely with patients in a medical setting. They should also have a basic understanding and knowledge of NHS privacy rules.

Dental Hygienist salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of a Dental Hygienist is £29.42 per hour. However, actual pay depends on factors such as experience, qualifications, the employer and location.

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Dental Hygienist job description FAQs

What qualities should a Dental Hygienist have?

A successful Dental Hygienist must have these qualities:

  • Patience and understanding
  • Compassion
  • Physical stamina
  • Good hand-eye coordination

What is a typical day for a Dental Hygienist?

Dental Hygienists work up to eight hours per day and three to four days per week. A typical day at the dental clinic can involve treating one patient per hour, depending on the number of patients their employer gets per day.

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