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Dental Hygienists
SOC Code: 29-2021.00

Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop x rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.

Sample of reported job titles: Dental Hygienist; Dental Hygienist, Mobile Coordinator; Education Coordinator; Hygienist; Implant Coordinator; Pediatric Dental Hygienist; Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH); Registered Dental Hygienist, Part Time Clinical Faculty


  • Clean calcareous deposits, accretions, and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums, using dental instruments.
  • Record and review patient medical histories.
  • Examine gums, using probes, to locate periodontal recessed gums and signs of gum disease.
  • Feel and visually examine gums for sores and signs of disease.
  • Expose and develop x-ray film.
  • Chart conditions of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist.
  • Maintain dental equipment and sharpen and sterilize dental instruments.
  • Feel lymph nodes under patient's chin to detect swelling or tenderness that could indicate presence of oral cancer.
  • Provide clinical services or health education to improve and maintain the oral health of patients or the general public.
  • Apply fluorides or other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay.
  • Maintain patient recall system.
  • Administer local anesthetic agents.
  • Remove excess cement from coronal surfaces of teeth.
  • Conduct dental health clinics for community groups to augment services of dentist.

Technology Skills

  • Accounting software - Dental billing software
  • Calendar and scheduling software - Scheduling software
  • Electronic mail software - Email software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Inventory management software
  • Medical software - Dental office management software; Henry Schein Dentrix; Patterson Dental Supply Patterson EagleSoft; Voice-activated perio charting software (see all 9 examples)
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Amalgam carriers
  • Attachments or replacement parts for dental instruments - Rotating caps
  • Dental amalgamators - Mechanical mixers
  • Dental bite blocks or wings or tabs - Bite wings
  • Dental cutting or separating discs - Angle formers
  • Dental dam supplies - Rubber dams
  • Dental examination chairs or related parts or accessories - Dental chairs
  • Dental film processors - Dental x ray development equipment
  • Dental hygiene instruments - Electronic calculus detectors
  • Dental impression trays - Impression trays
  • Dental instrument sharpening accessories - Instrument sharpening devices
  • Dental laboratory air abrasion units - Air abrasion equipment
  • Dental lasers - Caries detection aids; Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Nd:YAG dental lasers
  • Dental matrices or sets - Matrices/matrix retainers
  • Dental operatory retraction cords - Retraction cords
  • Dental probes - Calculus explorers; Caries explorers; Nabers furcation probes; Periodontal probes
  • Dental pulp or vitality testers - Pulp testers
  • Dental radiology film - Periapical films
  • Dental saliva ejectors or oral suction devices or supplies - Saliva ejectors; Suctioning equipment
  • Dental scalers or accessories - Hand scalers; Hollow handle scalars; Solid handle scalars; Ultrasonic scalers (see all 7 examples)
  • Dental syringes or needles or syringes with needles - Aspirating syringes; Dental needles
  • Dental tongs - Cotton pliers
  • Dental x ray units - Dental x ray machines; Digital dental x ray units; Panoramic dental x ray units; Portable dental x ray units
  • Digital cameras - Intraoral dental cameras
  • Electronic blood pressure units
  • Medical acoustic stethoscope or accessory - Mechanical stethoscopes
  • Medical radiation films or badges - Film badges
  • Medical radiological shielding aprons or masks or drapes - Lead aprons
  • Mercury blood pressure units - Manual blood pressure cuffs
  • Microscope slides
  • Notebook computers
  • Oxygen therapy delivery system products accessories or its supplies - Nitrous oxide administration equipment; Oxygen administration equipment
  • Personal computers
  • Scanners - Computer scanners
  • Steam autoclaves or sterilizers - Autoclaves
  • Teeth cleaning devices or accessories - Air-driven dental polishers; Air/water syringes; Dental polishers; Motor-driven dental polishers
  • Ultrasonic cleaning equipment - Ultrasonic sterilization units


  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.


  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.


  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Time Sharing - The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).


  • Interest code: SRC
    • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Context

  • Contact With Others - 100% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections - 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity - 99% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 97% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 89% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 97% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 74% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Radiation - 91% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 71% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 58% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 53% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 65% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 52% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 78% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 44% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Time Pressure - 61% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 60% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 55% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 44% responded “Limited freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 54% responded “Important results.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 35% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Telephone - 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Consequence of Error - 41% responded “Very serious.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions - 49% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 59% responded “Every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 45% responded “Very important.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 38% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Level of Competition - 27% responded “Highly competitive.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
79%Associate's degree
21%Bachelor's degree
1%Post-baccalaureate certificate

Work Styles

  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $35.61 hourly, $74,070 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 208,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Much faster than average (15% or higher)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 17,500

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