Skip Navigation
MI.gov
Health Careers - Health Careers | LARA Health Careers | LARA
Health Careers | LARA
Email this Page
Share this Link on Facebook
Tweet this page on Twitter!

Dental Hygienist

Health Care Job Openings 

Colleges & Universities 

Job Fairs 

A Michigan Jobs & Career Portal  service. 

 

Job Duties 

Working Conditions/Requirements 

Education & Preparation 

Job Openings & Entry Method 

Earnings & Advancement 

Employment & Outlook 

 

Sources of Additional Information 

 

 

Dental Hygienists are licensed professionals concerned with the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. As a member of the dental health care team, the Dental Hygienist uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods for the prevention and control of oral diseases and to assist adults and children in attaining and maintaining the most favorable oral health. 


JOB DUTIES 

Dental Hygienists may: 

Take and record medical and dental histories and blood pressures 

Examine and record the condition of mouth and teeth on charts 

Educate patients and community groups on oral hygiene and on dietary control of dental diseases 

Take and process X-rays of the teeth and jaws and perform other diagnostic tests 

Remove deposits from patients' teeth by scaling calculus from teeth and smoothing rough root surfaces   

Polish the teeth to remove stains and shape restorations 

Apply topical fluorides and sealants to help prevent decay 

Place and remove temporary restorations 

Remove sutures 

Perform oral cancer and blood pressure screenings 

Clean, sharpen, and sterilize supplies and equipment 

Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease 

Click here to view a brief video of Dental Hygienists at work! 

Click here to learn more about Dental Hygienists! 

In some offices, Dental Hygienists may have some general business office duties. Instruments, equipment, and work aids used by Dental Hygienists include: 

* X-ray equipment 

* Autoclaves & aspirators 

* Mouth mirrors 

* Dental polishing devices 

* Ultrasonic scaling instruments 

* Dental laboratory equipment 

* Dental sealant lights 

* Gloves/face masks/eye glasses 

* Gloves & facemasks 

* Examining instruments 

* Dental imaging software 

* Dental records software 

* Intra-oral imaging software 

* Air-driven dental polishers 

* Sterilizers: autoclaves, chemclaves, and dry heat 

* Hand instruments for scaling & polishing teeth 

* Films and charts illustrating various dental procedures 

* Curettes (sharp-edged instruments used to remove soft tissue) 

Materials used may include: 

* Teeth cleaning agents 

* Disinfecting solutions 

* Gum medications 

* Floss and toothbrushes 

* Fluorides 

* Pit and fissure sealants 

* Impression materials 

* Plaster/stone 

* X-ray film, mounts, & solutions 

* Temporary restorative materials 


OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES 

Dental Hygienist is the only specialty in this Career Exploration script: 

078.361-010 DENTAL HYGIENISTS are licensed professionals concerned with the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. As an auxiliary to the Dentist, the Hygienist uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods for the control of oral diseases to aid adults and children in attaining and maintaining the most favorable oral health. 

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration scripts:   


WORKING CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 

Dental Hygienists work under the direction of a dentist. The work is performed in clean, comfortable surroundings. They work directly with patients on an individual basis. Hygienists must follow safety procedures to avoid infections from and between patients and radiation from X-ray equipment. They might have to stand while working, but they usually sit on a stool at the side of the patient. 

Working hours for Dental Hygienists vary widely. Approximately one-third of Hygienists work 3 days a week (24 hours). They usually work between 31 and 40 hours per week. Working hours are flexible and may include some evenings and Saturdays. Some Hygienists work part time for more than one dentist. In most facilities, they are required to wear uniforms. 

Hygienists may join the American Dental Hygienists' Association  and/or local associations such as the Michigan Dental Hygienist Association . Association members must pay periodic dues. 

You Should Prefer: 

  • Activities involving the use of special procedures
  • Activities involving techniques to help people with oral health needs
  • Activities of a scientific and technical nature

You Should Be Able To: 

  • Use logical step-by-step procedures in your work
  • Communicate easily with people
  • Perform delicate and exact work
  • Picture the position of the teeth correctly
  • See small details of teeth from examination or x-rays
  • Tolerate viewing and working with patients' teeth
  • Work patiently with many types of people

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve: 

Calculate the percentage of nitrous oxide being delivered to a patient at the flow of 4 liters per minute of nitrous oxide and 6 liters per minute of oxygen. How does this percentage relate to the level recommended for optimal sedation? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend: 

Para-amino benzoic acid is one of the metabolites formed from hydrolysis of the ester-type compounds. This substance is capable of inducing allergic-type reactions in a small percentage of the population. 

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce: 

Record a patient's oral health after an annual check-up. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate: 

Must demonstrate excellent decision making and analytical skills and be detail oriented. 

Although there are no formal work experience requirements, all Hygienists must complete clinical experience as part of their education. The State of Michigan requires a license for this occupation. Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Dental Hygienist for specific licensing information. 

Dental Hygienists must have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, have a working knowledge of the English language; pass the 1-day, written National Board of Dental Hygiene Examiners ; and pass the 2-part written and clinical Northeast Regional Board Dental Examination . To maintain licensure, a dental hygienist must obtain a minimum of 36 continuing education hours, with at least 12 of those hours relating to clinical issues, during each three-year licensing period, and hold a current CPR certification. 

[back to top] 

 

 


 

 

 

EDUCATION AND PREPARATION OPPORTUNITIES 

NOTE: An Associate Degree (two years of study beyond high school) or a Bachelor's Degree (four years of study beyond high school) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration script: 

***SCHOOL SUBJECTS*** 

0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1300 ENGLISH , 1500 FOODS & NUTRITION , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY 

***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS*** 

There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration script. 

Students should obtain the local Education & Training Opportunities  for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. 

***POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS*** 

042 DENTAL HYGIENE 

Dental Hygiene Programs provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed for employment helping patients with dental care and preventive treatment. Dental Hygienists are licensed and are employed by dentists, government health agencies, school systems, hospital and industrial dental clinics, the military services, and in Dental Hygiene education programs. 

Courses within this program will vary but may include: 

Study of Head/Neck/Jaws/Teeth/Gingiva 

Anatomy & Physiology 

Study of X-Rays Used for Dental Examination 

Oral Pathology 

Study of Drugs Related to Dental Practice 

Dental Materials 

Study of Diseases Affecting Mouth/Gingiva/Jaws/Head Area 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 

***APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES*** 

There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration script. 

***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS*** 

Please check the Military web site at http://www.todaysmilitary.com . 

DENTAL SPECIALISTS 

Dental care is one of the health services provided to all military personnel. It is available in military dental clinics all over the world. Dental specialists assist military dentists in examining and treating patients. They also help manage dental offices. 

What They Do 

Dental specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties: 

  • Help dentists perform oral surgery
  • Prepare for patient examinations by selection and arranging instruments and medications
  • Help dentists during examination by preparing dental compounds and operating dental equipment
  • Clean patients' teeth using scaling and polishing instruments and equipment
  • Operate dental X-ray equipment and process X-rays of patients' teeth, gums, and jaws
  • Provide guidance to patients on daily care of their teeth
  • Perform administrative duties, such as scheduling office visits, keeping patient records, and ordering dental supplies

Civilian Counterparts 

Civilian dental specialists work in dental offices or clinics. Their work is similar to work in the military. They typically specialize in assisting dentists to treat patients, provide clerical support (dental assistants), or clean teeth (dental hygienists). 

Physical Demands 

Dental specialists must sometimes stand for long periods. 

Special Requirements 

A minimum age of 18 is required for this occupation   

Helpful Attributes 

Helpful school subjects include biology and chemistry. Helpful attributes include: 

  • Good eye-hand coordination
  • Ability to follow spoken instructions and detailed procedures
  • Interest in working with people

Training Provided 

Job training consists of 9 to 14 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice in dental care tasks. Course content typically includes: 

  • Preventive dentistry
  • Radiology (X-ray) techniques
  • Dental office procedures
  • Dental hygiene procedures

Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. The Navy offers a certified apprenticeship program for one specialty in this occupation. 

Work Environment 

Dental specialists in the military usually work indoors in dental offices or clinics. Some specialists may be assigned to duty aboard ships. 

Opportunities 

The number of dental specialists currently in the military is unknown. New specialists are needed annually due to personnel changes and demands in the field. With experience, dental specialists perform more difficult tasks involving patient care. In time, they may become responsible for assisting dental officers in the management of dental programs. 

E-Learning Courses and Programs 

 

[back to top] 

 


 

 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE AND METHODS OF ENTRY 

Postsecondary programs in dental hygiene may offer opportunities for work-related experience. Some Dental Hygienists serve in various branches of the military service. 

School-to-Work opportunities include: 

informal apprenticeships 

mentorship's 

job shadowing experiences 

touring a local Dental Hygienist employer 

internships 

volunteer work with a Dental Hygienist employer 

community service work with an agency 

Dental Hygienists may apply directly to dental offices, schools, hospitals, or civil service offices. Assistance may be obtained from some dental hygiene schools and professional organizations. Jobs may be located by consulting newspaper want ads, professional journals, or local offices of Michigan Works!. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 

Dentaljobs.net 

RDH Jobs 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Michigan Talent Bank 

Indeed | one search. all jobs 

Simply Hired 

CareerBuilder 

MONSTER Jobs 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services. 

[back to top] 

 


 

EARNINGS AND ADVANCEMENT 

Earnings of Dental Hygienists are affected by the type of employer, education, experience of the individual Hygienist, and geographic location. Hygienists who work in private dental offices are usually paid an hourly wage, although some are salaried or paid commissions for work performed. 

Nationally, the average daily pay in early 2009 was about $210 for experienced Dental Hygienists, who were employed in hospitals and related other organizations. 

In Michigan, Dental Hygienists employed by governmental agencies in early 2009 earned daily wages of: 

Employer 

Daily Pay Range 

State of Michigan 

$135 - $192 

Oakland County 

$136 - $177 

City of Detroit 

$126 - $146 

Beginning Dental Hygienists who were graduates of one 2-year dental hygiene program in Michigan (2005-2006) received an average starting salary of $153 per day. 

Depending on the employer, Dental Hygienists may receive paid vacations and holidays; continuing education and/or professional dues allowance; profit sharing; and/or life, health, accident, and disability insurance; sick pay; and pension plans. They may also receive free dental care. Benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by the employer. Hygienists employed on a part-time basis in private dental offices might not receive many or any of these benefits. Those who work on a commission basis may not receive any. 

Most hospitals promote Dental Hygienists to supervisory duties, depending on the experience and education of the individual. Some Hygienists may also become instructors. Advancement for Dental Hygienists is limited and usually comes in the form of higher wages. Training, experience, and competence in technical work are the determining factors for advancement. A few supervisory positions may be available in large clinics for those with leadership ability. Dental Hygienists with advanced degrees may advance to teaching or administrative public health positions. 

 

[back to top] 

 


 

 

EMPLOYMENT AND OUTLOOK 

Nationally, there were about 167,000 Dental Hygienists employed in 2006, with many of them employed part-time. Employment of Dental Hygienists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. There is a current shortage of trained Hygienists in many areas of the country. However, if the increasing supply of dentists leads to fewer patients per dental office, dentists may choose to perform more services themselves and hire fewer Hygienists. The industry distribution for Dental Hygienists was primarily concentrated in dental offices, offices of healthcare practitioners and social assistance. 

There are approximately 8,600 Dental Hygienists employed in Michigan.  Almost all of them are employed in private dental offices. Hospitals; clinics; nursing homes; school systems; centers for the developmentally disabled; and federal, state, and local government agencies also employed Dental Hygienists. 

The employment of Dental Hygienists in Michigan is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. An average of 340 job openings is expected with 180 due to growth and 160 due to replacement of those who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. More openings will occur as workers transfer to other jobs or occupations. 

Employment of Hygienists in Michigan is expected to grow as a result of a growing population's increasing awareness of the importance of regular dental care. 

To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator. 

MICHIGAN'S EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK TO 2016 

 

  

  

  

PROJECTED 

EMPLOYMENT 

NUMBER 

PERCENT 

YEARLY JOB 

REGION 

EMPLOYED 

GROWTH 

OPENINGS 

  

  

  

  

Michigan - State-wide 

8,600 

20.7 

340 

Ann Arbor Area 

490 

29.9 

24 

Battle Creek Area 

150 

17.3 

6 

Benton Harbor Area 

135 

13.2 

5 

Central Michigan 

95 

22.3 

4 

Detroit Area 

3,920 

19.9 

153 

East Central Michigan 

90 

26.4 

4 

Flint Area 

480 

11.1 

14 

Grand Rapids Area 

1,080 

23.6 

47 

Jackson Area 

210 

19.0 

8 

Kalamazoo Area 

300 

14.3 

10 

Lansing MSA 

555 

16.5 

20 

Muskegon Area 

160 

22.5 

7 

Northeast Lower Peninsula 

25 

26.1 

1 

Northwest Lower Peninsula 

265 

29.7 

13 

Saginaw Area 

335 

15.2 

11 

Thumb Area 

140 

19.3 

6 

Upper Peninsula 

155 

9.6 

5 

West Central Michigan 

75 

28.4 

3 

  

  

  

  

Note:   Areas may not add up to state-wide total due to rounding, sampling, statistical error or omission due to confidentiality issues. 


 

SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

 

Michigan Department of Community Health - Bureau of Health Professions 
P.O. Box 30670
611 W. Ottawa Street, First Floor
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 335-0918
 

American Dental Association 
211 E. Chicago Avenue 
Chicago, IL 60611-2678 
(312) 440-2500
 
 

American Dental Hygienists' Association 
444 N. Michigan Ave.
Suite 3400
 
Chicago, IL 60611 
(312) 440-8913 

Michigan Dental
Hygienists' Association
 

2310 Jolly Oak Road 
Okemos, MI 48864-4599 
(517) 381-8557 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Federal, State, and Local
Civil Service Offices
 

College Placement Offices 

Local Military Recruiters 


[back to top] 

Copyright © 2009 Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth