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Dental Hygienist

The role

Dental Hygienists provide oral care and advice for patients. They often work alongside dentists to prevent oral diseases and problems.

They clean plaque off a patient’s teeth, polish teeth to prevent gum disease and apply antibacterial products to reduce the chances of decay. They may also apply temporary coatings to teeth.

Dental Hygienists will often spend time advising patients on good oral care, including advice on flossing and brushing.

How to become a Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienists need to have taken a course that has been approved by the General Dental Council (GDC). This could be a diploma, foundation degree or BSc in Oral Health Science, Dental Hygiene or Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy.

Course entry requirements may vary, although two A-Levels in science subjects are usually specified. Experience working as a dental nurse can also be beneficial.

Once qualified, a Dental Hygienist needs to register with the GDC. Candidates need clearance with the Criminal Records Bureau.  

Skills and knowledge required

  • Good people and communication skills
  • Steady hands
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentration
  • An understanding of science


Starting salaries are between £21,000 and £27,000 a year. Experienced Dental Hygienists can expect to earn from £33,000 to £40,000 a year.

The hours

Dental Hygienists can work full- or part-time hours. While these usually fall between 9am and 5pm, there may be some evening and weekend work.

Useful websites – General Dental Council

British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy (BSDHT), 3 Kestrel Court, Waterwells Drive, Waterwells Business Park, Gloucester GL2 2AT. 01452 886365. Website:

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