Career Possibilities

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.

A career in dental hygiene offers opportunities in the following settings.


  • Perform oral health assessments
  • Provide nutritional counseling and self-care programs to prevent disease
  • Oral, head and neck cancer screenings¬†
  • Take and process X-rays and perform other diagnostic tests
  • Provide services that help patients prevent gum diseases and cavities¬†
    • oral prophylaxis (removing stains and deposits from teeth)
    • root debridement
    • application of preventive and therapeutic agents
    • local delivery of antimicrobial agents
  • Administration of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation
  • Teeth whitening


  • Consult for dental product companies and/or insurance companies.
  • Hold administrative positions in education, public health, hospitals, or professional associations.
  • Sell dental products and supplies.
  • Manage or own dental personnel placement services.
  • Evaluate and facilitate processing of dental insurance claims
  • Initiate and evaluate community dental health programs and resources.


  • Teach in dental hygiene and dental school programs.
  • Present continuing education seminars.
  • Write/edit educational materials.


  • Write grant proposals.
  • Develop research methodology.
  • Collect and analyze data.
  • Conduct clinical research.
  • Write articles for professional publications.

Consumer Advocacy

  • Help consumer groups obtain access to care.
  • Develop networking systems to match existing resources with health care needs.
  • Advise consumers on insurance policies, commercial products, and political issues affecting oral health.

Change Agent

Influence business and government agencies to support health care efforts.
Advocate oral health programs for individuals, families, or communities.