Dental Hygienists

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$81,400 Median Wage (2022)
16,400 Projected job openings (2022-2032)
7.40% Projected growth (2022-2032)

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.

Experience Requirements Overview

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

Education, Training and Experience

Required Level of Education: Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

Related Work Experience: N.A.

On-Site or In-Plant Training: N.A.

On-the-Job Training: None or short demonstration

Detailed Work Activities

  • Record patient medical histories.
  • Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.
  • Sterilize medical equipment or instruments.
  • Maintain medical equipment or instruments.
  • Maintain current knowledge related to work activities.
  • Attend training sessions or professional meetings to develop or maintain professional knowledge.
  • Treat dental problems or diseases.
  • Examine mouth, teeth, gums, or related facial structures.
  • Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
  • Process x-rays or other medical images.
  • Fabricate medical devices.
  • Administer anesthetics or sedatives to control pain.
  • Direct healthcare delivery programs.
  • Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Adjust dental devices or appliances to ensure fit.

Work Values

Achievement

Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Working Conditions

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Recognition

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Relationships

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.

Support

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Independence

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Tasks

  • Record and review patient medical histories.
  • 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.
  • Clean calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums, using dental instruments.
  • Provide clinical services or health education to improve and maintain the oral health of patients or the general public.
  • Chart conditions of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist.
  • Expose and develop x-ray film.
  • Attend continuing education courses to maintain or update skills.
  • Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.
  • Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.
  • Maintain patient recall system.
  • Feel lymph nodes under patient's chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.
  • Administer local anesthetic agents.
  • Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.
  • Conduct dental health clinics for community groups to augment services of dentist.
  • Place and remove rubber dams, matrices, and temporary restorations.
  • Make impressions for study casts.
  • Remove sutures and dressings.

Work Styles

Achievement/Effort

Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Persistence

Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Initiative

Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Leadership

Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

Cooperation

Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Concern for Others

Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Social Orientation

Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Self-Control

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Stress Tolerance

Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

Adaptability/Flexibility

Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Dependability

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Attention to Detail

Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

Integrity

Job requires being honest and ethical.

Independence

Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Innovation

Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Analytical Thinking

Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Data Source: This page includes information from the O*NET 28.0 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA. This page includes Employment Projections program, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.