How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make?

Female dentist with face mask treatment a patient in dental clinic

Dental hygienists often have rewarding careers that allow them to help their patients’ oral health. If you are considering a career as a dental hygienist, the earning potential for this position is most likely a major factor.

Knowing how much dental hygienists make, as well as their primary duties and educational requirements, can help you decide if this is the career for you.

In this article, we will look at the dental hygienist’s salary in the UK and also that in the US, how to become one, the skills required, and some of the most frequently asked questions about this profession.

Who Is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a regulated health professional who works in different settings, like private practice, public health, hospitals, long-term care facilities, educational institutions and research.

They can be able to work independent of or alongside a dentist and are an important part of your health care team.

A dental hygienist will work with a patient to determine their care plan and help them maintain proper oral health.

Dental hygienists provide a range of personalized care. Only regulated health professionals may provide dental hygiene services.

Also, their focus is primarily on oral disease prevention but they can also be involved in orthodontic procedures such as braces.

Some of them also have a speciality certificate and can be involved in providing restoring services such as filling placements.

What does a dental hygienist do?

In many situations, when a patient goes to the dentist for a routine checkup, they tend to spend the majority of their appointment time with the dental hygienist.

Below are the duties that a dental hygienist performs independently of the supervision of a dentist.

  • They provide or give instruction, guidance, and coaching to patients about methods and how to improve their dental health.
  • Performs routine examination and assessment of a patient’s dental health.
  •  Under the direct supervision of a dentist, a dental hygienist is responsible for the cleaning
  • Of calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains on the teeth and beneath margins of gums using dental instruments.
  • A Dental Hygienist feels lymph nodes under a patient’s chin to detect swelling or tenderness that may be an indication of the presence of oral cancer.
  • Taking radiographs.
  • Documenting patients’ care and treatment plans.
  • Applying sealants and fluoride to protect teeth.

Dental hygienists collaborate with dentists to submit patient information and determine what instructions to give them. They may also be required to perform certain other tasks under the supervision of the dentist. Dental hygienists use a variety of instruments, including hand, power, and ultrasonic tools, to carry out the tasks listed above. They also use X-ray machines to scan patients for tooth and jaw problems.

Requirements to become a dental hygienist

  • Earn a Degree
  • Become Licensed
  • Gain Experience
  •  Further Your Education

Earn a Degree

You will need some education to get started on your path to becoming a Dental Hygienist.

Many Dental Hygienists enrol in a dental hygiene program at a trade school or community college, while others pursue an Associate’s degree at a college or university.

Although classes to become a Dental Hygienist can be taken online, internships and lab work must be completed in person.

Most associate’s degrees are completed in two years, and some Dental Hygienist programs can be completed in one year to 18 months.

Become Licensed

Having a degree as a Dental Hygienist is only the first step. The National Board of Dental Hygiene will then require you to take the licensure exam.

Gain Experience

It’s possible that you had an internship throughout your education and landed a great job at a dentist’s office. If not, there are several ways to gain experience as a Dental Hygienist and advance your career.

 Further Your Education

After a couple of years of experience, it may be time to consider furthering your education.

This can be accomplished by obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in a dental hygiene program or a related field.

Some colleges will accept Associate’s degree credits and apply them toward a Bachelor’s degree.

If Associate’s degree credits are accepted, earning a Bachelor’s degree can take as little as two years.

Dental hygienist course

A one-year program is the bare minimum of education required to become a dental hygienist.

However, many Dental Hygienists obtain an Associate’s degree, which can take up to two years to complete.

A one-year dental hygienist course can lead to entry-level positions as a dental hygienist, but an associate’s degree program can lead to raises, promotions, or other opportunities.

Most community colleges and universities require their dental hygiene students to complete an internship and lab work in a clinical setting.

This gives students hands-on experience, ensuring that they do not start their first job with no qualifications.

Dental hygienist salary

In the United States, the average dental hygienist’s salary is $77,000 per year. In some areas, Dental Hygienists with a Bachelor’s degree and many years of experience can earn more than $100,000 per year.

With little experience and education, you can expect to earn around $53,000 per year to begin. When it comes to salary, there are numerous factors that can come into play. Working in larger populations and with higher socioeconomic statuses can pay more. Credentials can also lead to a higher salary; specializations and certifications provided by your employer or school are a good place to start.

Dental hygienist salary UK

In the United Kingdom, the average dental hygienist salary is £63,096 per year or £32.36 per hour. Entry-level salaries begin at £51,671 per year, with most experienced workers earning up to £73,125 per year.

Salaries vary depending on a variety of factors, including your experience, location, type of employer, and whether you work for a practice directly or as a self-employed individual.

Dentist vs dental hygienist

There is a significant difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist. Before choosing a profession, it is critical that you conduct extensive research on what it entails. Do not mistake a dental hygienist for a dentist; they are two different people in the same dental profession. The following are the distinctions between a dentist and a hygienist:

While a dental hygienist might be the one to make note of an issue in a patient’s mouth and point it out to a dentist or periodontist.

They are not the ones to diagnose the problem. The job is left to a dentist, who then comes up with a suitable plan for giving treatment and guiding the patient to achieve their oral health goals.

 Some dentists are privileged to receive additional training after dental school which allows them to specialize and provide care for certain conditions to their patients.

A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases.

Career prospects

Once qualified, you’ll work as a dental hygienist and gain experience. However, if you have a combined degree that combines both dental hygiene and therapy, you can work as a dental therapist.

Job prospects are generally favourable. With an ageing population, for example, oral health and related health issues are becoming more prevalent, implying that dental health professionals are in high demand.

There are some opportunities for advancement into dental practice management with experience. In this position, you will assist the dentist and be in charge of the office’s operations.

With additional qualifications and training, it may be possible to transition from direct patient care to teaching the next generation of dental hygiene or dental therapy students.


A hygienist is a lead team member for a dentist, whose work is largely independent. Reasons to become a dental hygienist may include the fact that there are some people who need your care and kind words

As a dental hygienist, you will help people solve or overcome dental problems. Although they work under close supervision most of the time, dental hygienists play an important role in the dentistry profession because they are responsible for clearing the path for a dentist, which the dentists would not find amusing if they were left to do on their own.

FAQs about Dental Hygienists

Are dental hygienists important

Yes. They are important to give medical advice and more to patients outside the dentist, and to assist them.

What do dental hygienists major in

There are varity of things the hygienists do, but majorly for oral, they are responsible for cleaning the teeth, they are not to say what is wrong with one, but the dentist.

What is dental hygiene

Dental hygiene simply says, you should prioritize your dental or oral health than anything else.

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