Dental Hygienists

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Quick Facts: Dental Hygienists
2012 Median Pay $70,210 per year
$33.75 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 192,800
Job Outlook, 2012-22 33% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 64,200

What Dental Hygienists Do

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

Work Environment

Almost all dental hygienists work in dentists’ offices, which are clean and well lit. More than half of dental hygienists work part time.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state.


The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $70,210 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health to general health will continue to spur demand for preventative dental services, which are often provided by dental hygienists.

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