Dental Hygienist Salary & Job Description

Connie Kolakowski | Apr 07, 2022

Dental Hygienist Salary & Job Description

Dental hygienists play a key role in providing hands-on support for dentists and in caring for a patient’s overall oral health. They perform a wide variety of tasks to help treat patients and promote healthy oral hygiene.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected 10-year growth rate of employment in this field is higher than the average growth rate for all occupations, making this a great time to start a career as a dental hygienist. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in dental hygiene, in this article we’ll list out everything you need to know before you take the next step.

Dental Hygienist Duties and Responsibilities

Dental hygienists' roles are largely focused on patient care. Some of the most common duties and responsibilities include:

  • Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from patients’ teeth

  • Sterilize dental instruments properly

  • Apply treatments to prevent tooth decay

  • Perform other preventative dental care

  • Conduct patient screening for any tooth decay or oral diseases prior to any dental work

  • Take dental x-rays and assess for problems

  • Document and report findings to the dentist

  • Document patient history and prescribed treatment plans

  • Recommend care to improve oral health 

  • Educate patients on preventative dental care at home

Dental Hygienist Qualifications and Skills

For those looking to enter the career path of a dental hygienist, a certain level of skills and qualifications are required to give patients the most effective and proper care. In addition to possessing specialized dental knowledge, hygienists must be able to demonstrate skills such as:

  • Steady and skilled use of hands

  • Verbal and written communication skills

  • Excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills

  • The ability to simplify complex health information for patients’ understanding

  • The ability to communicate with and care for young and old patients

  • Exhibit patience and friendliness on a daily basis

  • Strong attention to detail

  • Have a deep knowledge of relevant health and safety rules

Dental Hygienist Education Requirements

Acquiring an associate’s degree in dental hygiene is typically required and can take as little as two years to complete. Prospective dental hygienists must enroll in programs at an accredited dental hygienist school.


To be eligible for licensure in most states, students should enroll in a dental program with CODA accreditation. For dental hygienists seeking to further their education or considering a career path revolving around research, teaching, or clinical practice in public dental health programs, a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required.

Dental Hygienist Experience Requirements

All states require dental hygienists to obtain licensure to practice; however, specific requirements vary by state. After acquiring licensure, a dental hygienist can begin working in their profession. Employers seeking dental hygienist professionals who are experienced in performing specialized procedures may require at least 3 years of experience.

Average Salary

The average annual salary for dental hygienists ranges anywhere from $49,200 to $115,050 (or $23.65 to $55.31 per hour), depending on the state and level of experience. In 2020, the median wage was $77,090 per year and $37.06 per hour.

Bottom Line

If your interests are concentrated around patient care, periodontal practice, and oral health and hygiene, a career in dental hygiene may be the path for you. As dental hygienists are in high demand and the need for them is only projected to grow, now is a good time to start taking steps into entering the field. 

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Dental Hygienist Job Description (Example)

Looking to hire dental hygienists? Copy and paste our ready-to-go job description below and make any necessary revisions to match your business needs.


Dental Hygienist

Job Description:

Are you ready to create a healthier Sierra Canyon Family Dentistry is seeking a full-time, California licensed dental hygienist who is dedicated to providing excellent patient care and maintaining the office’s established hygiene standards. We earn our patients' trust through our respected team and commitment to creating positive experiences. Hence, we are looking for a candidate who enjoys building patient relationships and exhibits a friendly personality.


Salary Pay:

Salary range for this position is $85,000 - $105,000 per year (plus bonus/commission).


  • Clean and polish teeth using scaling instruments and a rotating polisher

  • Administer anesthetic injections

  • Administer dental prophylaxis and fluoride treatments

  • Perform intraoral and extraoral examinations for indications of abnormalities

  • Take and develop dental X-ray films

  • Assess patient’s health history to determine if treatment is appropriate

  • Work with dentists to create appropriate treatment plans for patients

  • Document patient health history and prescribed treatment plans

  • Maintain accurate record keeping on all dental hygienist related services performed

  • Appropriately refer patients for further dental hygiene treatment

  • Build and maintain relationships with patients and staff

  • Instruct and fully educate patients on proper nutrition and oral hygiene practices


  • Current Dental Hygienist license for California

  • A degree or certificate in hygiene from an accredited program

  • Current CPR certification

  • Knowledge of dental software/computer literacy

  • Excellent communication skills and patient-care oriented

  • 2+ years of experience working in a fasted paced practice

  • Highly motivated with a positive attitude

  • Exceptional work ethic and genuine passion for the field of dentistry

Additional Information:

Must be available to work Monday through Friday, 8am - 4pm.


  • Medical, dental and vision insurance

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • Competitive bonus structure

  • Paid time off

  • 401k

  • Child care assistance

Post your Job on ExtraHourz

Post your dental hygienist job and any other available positions on ExtraHourz. ExtraHourz offers flexible monthly plans with no contract, allowing you to post long-term jobs and/or non-traditional and gig-related opportunities based on the needs of your business.