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Dental hygienist

Offer advice, information and treatments to prevent and treat tooth decay and gum disease
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What does a dental hygienist 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

What do I need to do 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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information:


Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:


Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Customer service
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Patience
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • At least two A levels or equivalent, one in a science subject

Vocational route

  • Science-based level 3 courses

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Essential qualifications

  • a 2-year foundation degree in oral health science
  • Or a 2-year diploma of higher education in dental hygiene, or dental hygiene and dental therapy
  • Or a 3-year degree in oral health science, or dental therapy and dental hygiene

Where to find out more

Registration

Once qualified, you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council.

Further information

You can find out more about dental hygiene careers from the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy.


Where could I be working?

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 opportunities

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.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


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