Who is the Dental Hygienist?

The dental hygienist is the member of the oral healthcare profession who provides treatment to prevent dental caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) disease. Dental Hygienists are licensed professionals who must graduate from a nationally accredited educational program and successfully complete both a written national board examination and a state or regional clinical examination.

What Is the Education Preparation for Dental Hygienists?

Educational preparation for registered dental hygienists typically involves classroom study in subjects emphasizing basic sciences, dental sciences, dental hygiene theory (including pain control, nutrition, oral health education and preventive counseling) and periodontology, as well as supervised instruction in pre-clinical and clinical skills. Degrees include associates, bachelors and masters. Dental hygienists in New York State also have continuing education requirements throughout their career.

What Do Dental Hygienists Do?


Dental hygienists provide many services including cleaning teeth (prophylaxis); non-surgical periodontal procedures (deep scaling and root planing); applying chemo-therapeutic agents; taking x-rays; providing fluoride treatments; applying sealants; examining the condition of the mouth, teeth and gums; and educating patients to maintain optimum oral health.

Where Do Dental Hygienists Work?

While most registered dental hygienists practice in private dental offices, others provide services in hospitals; managed care organizations; federal, state and municipal health departments; primary and secondary school systems; private businesses and industry; correctional institutions; and private and public centers for pediatric (children), geriatric (elderly) and other groups with special needs. Dental hygienists work as clinical practitioners, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, preventive program developers and consultants.