Dental hygienists offer advice, information and treatments to prevent and treat tooth decay and gum disease.
Salary range: £24,214 to ££37,267
How to become a dental hygienist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
You could do either:
- a 2-year foundation degree in oral health science
- a 2-year diploma of higher education in dental hygiene, or dental hygiene and dental therapy
- a 3-year degree in oral health science, or dental therapy and dental hygiene
Experience as a dental nurse may be useful. A recognised dental nurse qualification can sometimes take the place of an A level for course entry.
You’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- list of approved dental hygiene courses
- university courses and entry requirements
You can find out more about dental hygiene careers from the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- customer service skills
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- excellent verbal communication skills
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to work well with your hands
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
What you’ll do
You’ll use dental instruments to provide treatments. On a daily basis you could be:
- removing plaque
- cleaning and polishing teeth to help prevent gum disease
- applying antibacterial treatments to reduce decay
- giving local anaesthetic under the supervision of a dentist
- applying temporary coatings and sealants to protect teeth
- encouraging and demonstrating tooth brushing and flossing
You could work at a dental practice, in an NHS or private hospital or at a health centre.
You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could move into dental practice management.
With further training you could teach student dental hygienists.
You could also move into a related area like orthodontic therapy or health promotion.