Dental Hygienist Career Requirements

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As a child, I always thought that the job of a dentist was to strike fear into the hearts of kids. Only after growing up did I realize how useful they were. They help us form a perfect bright smile while having fresh breath. They also ensure that we have no oral pains or diseases. But that is the broad description of what a dental hygienist does. They mainly assist the dentist in all their procedures and make arrangements for them. Let us dive into the details of the job responsibilities of a dental hygienist.

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Primarily, a dental hygienist works as an assistant to the dentist. However, there is a difference between dental hygienists and dental assistants. They perform some small medical tasks and test procedures. The dentist then interprets the results of these results accordingly. A dental hygienist works directly with the patient to perform tasks that a dentist is too busy to perform. Let us look at some of these in detail.

Basic Dental Care

One of their primary duties is to clean teeth. Dental hygienists often need to work with some specialized equipment. They use high-pressure air nozzles to clean the teeth and a polisher to polish them. Since this is a job that doesn’t require much medical expertise, the dentist doesn’t step in with the patient on such occasions.

Dental hygienists are also required to perform certain tests related to oral hygiene. These may include X-rays or sputum tests to check for diseases. They sometimes also examine the patient and note down their initial assessment to present to the dentist before diagnosis. Depending on the dentist, the hygienist is also allowed to diagnose the patient sometimes.

Medical Procedures

Depending on state rules, the dental hygienists are allowed to perform a number of medical procedures. In some states, they are allowed to use anesthesia on the patients. Whereas in other states, they can only do so in the presence of the dentist with the help of a syringe.

They can also use and carve filling to fill cavities. It is their duty to look after periodontal (related to the gum) dressings, remove sutures and polish any metal implants. They coat the teeth with cavity preventive measures like fluorides and sealants too.


A major duty of the dental hygienist is to advise the patients on preventive care. They can explain how to take better take care of our teeth using a model. The also show us some basic procedures like how to brush properly or how to floss. This includes oral hygiene in general.

They look after our treatment plans and keep us on the right course after checking our progress. If you want, you can ask them any oral related healthcare question and they will be able to help you out. This includes questions like “What kind of food is best for my teeth?”.

It is the job of the dental hygienist to take into consideration the patients’ feelings and religious beliefs before acting accordingly. At the same time, they are supposed to follow a strict set of rules and protocols laid out by the supervising dentist.


Depending on the specializations of the RDH, their job duties vary. For example, a pediatric dental hygienist will need to take special care of the children and make them feel more comfortable without making them cry. Educators will need to have a firm grasp on the subject matter and teach accordingly. Public Healthcare Administrators will need to be authoritative and good at delegating work.


Though it is not very common, but sometimes the dental hygienists do need to document the day’s procedures and their results. This is usually done by the dental assistant, but in some cases, the hygienist has to help out.

After reading, I am sure you know that the dental hygienist does much more than steal a tooth fairy’s job. They are just as essential in our lives as any other doctor. The salary that you get is decent and obviously, you do get dental benefits with the job. So, if reading all that interested you, then you shouldn’t wait any longer. Go find a dental program of that fits your needs now!