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Oswego Career Ladders - Dental Hygienist

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Dental Hygienist

Industry: Healthcare
Area: Dentistry

Dental hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventative dental care. Hygienists examine patients teeth and gums, recording the presence of disease or abnormalities. They remove calculus, stains and plaque from teeth; take and develop x rays; and apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants.Dental hygienists also help patients develop and maintain good oral health. For example, they may explain the relationship between diet and oral health, or even the link between oral health and such serious conditions as heart disease and strokes. They also inform patients how to select toothbrushes and show them how to brush and floss their teeth.Dental hygienists use hand and rotary instruments and ultrasonics to clean and polish teeth, x ray machines to take dental pictures, syringes with needles to administer local anesthetics, and models of teeth to explain oral hygiene.

Work Settings

The majority of dental hygienists work with dentists in private dental offices and clinics. Other employment opportunities exist in hospitals, nursing homes, research organizations, education, health departments, and public health clinics. They may also be employed with companies that market dental-related supplies and equipment.


Students entering a dental hygienist program should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Individuals must complete a two-year associate program or a four-year baccalaureate program accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Job Outlook

48 percent increase over the next 10 years


$32,000 - $70,000(NYS Avg. $47,250)

Work Schedule

A standard 40-hour week is common, although almost half work part-time

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