The role of the dental hygienist is crucial in helping patients to get into healthy dental habits and spot any potential issues early on. It’s a job with great career prospects, plenty of patient interaction and some simple training requirements.
What is a dental hygienist?
The role basically entails two elements: advice and treatment. Hygienists are the people we turn to for advice on how to floss and brush, the best ways to maintain excellent oral hygiene and also tips on a tooth-friendly diet. Hygienists also carry out a range of treatments, such as removing plaque, cleaning and polishing teeth and applying antibacterial treatments.
Why become a dental hygienist?
There are some very good reasons why a dental hygienist is such an appealing job, from the people you’ll work with, to the rewards.
1. Great hours and pay
Most dental hygienists work a regular 9 to 5 week and entry-level pay starts at around £22,000 to £26,000. There is some flexibility too, as dental hygienists can be employed by a single practice or can work on a freelance basis.
2. Straightforward training
Dental hygienists need to pass one of three General Dental Council (GDC) courses:
- a foundation degree in oral health science (two years)
- a diploma of higher education (DipHE) in dental hygiene, or dental hygiene and dental therapy (two years)
- a degree in oral health science, or dental therapy and dental hygiene (three years)
It may be possible to apply for NHS funding to help with the costs of course fees and living costs while training.
3. Job stability
If there’s one thing that people will always need, it’s professionals who can deal with their teeth. The role of the dental hygienist is essential and stable and offers great prospects. Whether you choose to work for the NHS or privately – or even set up your own practice – the career path is a reliable one.
4. People focused
It’s true that some people do dread their trip to the dentist but that’s rarely the case with the hygienist. This ‘people focused’ role is all about helping people to care for their teeth and perhaps even reducing the fear that nervous dental patients or children might have about a trip to the dentist. It’s a very rewarding position in a team structure that offers plenty of opportunity for positive daily interaction.
If you’re looking for a career challenge with a strong skill set and a positive human element then a dental hygienist could be the role for you.