What is a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygiene is an exciting profession with many rewarding and challenging career opportunities which include clinical/patient care, administration, education, research and sales/marketing. Dental hygienists are employed in diverse settings such as private dental practices, clinics, hospitals, geriatric and special needs homes, correctional facilities, public heath departments, school systems, allied dental education programs, national, state and local government agencies, and private/business industry.

As a licensed health professional and oral health educator, the dental hygienist has an important role in the overall health and welfare of the public. The dental hygienist is an integral part of the dental team, providing direct patient care based on the prevention of disease. The duties and responsibilities of dental hygienists vary from state to state, but may include oral prophylaxis (removing stains and deposits from teeth), root debridement, exposing radiographs, application of preventive and therapeutic agents, local delivery of antimicrobial agents, nutritional counseling, oral, head and neck cancer screenings and administration of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation.

The educational background of a dental hygienist provides the knowledge, attitudes and skill necessary to be successful in a wide variety of careers. From research to clinician to public administration, dental hygiene opens the door to many successful career options.