What does a dental hygienist do? On a typical day a dental hygienist works closely with the dentist and is responsible for a variety of tasks that include performing dental cleanings, taking and developing dental x-rays, filing patient records to track care and treatment, preparing diagnostic tests as requested by the dentist, and applying sealants or fluoride.

Going to the dentist can be quite a nerve-wracking experience. But, you’re an excellent dental hygienist, and you can alleviate some of those emotional roller-coaster moments with your warm bedside manner and your wicked friendly smile.

You must show compassion and have strong interpersonal skills; you’re working with people on a daily basis. Your personal and professional growth will come from the relationships made between the dental staff and patients.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist (Career Path)

There are two different ways to become a dental hygienist. You can choose to go through an associate degree program or get a bachelor’s degree. Make sure any program you choose is accredited. Otherwise, you won’t be eligible for licensing.

  • Graduate high school or get your GED.
  • Apply and be accepted to an accredited program, whether it’s for an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  • Get licensed through the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.
  • Start your career!

A dental hygienist program will include classes like:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • nutrition
  • radiography
  • periodontology

Salary and Job Outlook

A pretty good perk with dental hygiene is that you can choose if you want to work full or part-time. You can decide which suits your lifestyle. As a top-paying trade career, full time salary is $72K on average. And, it’s an extremely fast growing career, at 20 percent employment growth through 2026.