Dental Hygienist

Healthcare & Medical Technology Careers

Average Salary (US)




Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Hygienists, at

Table of Contents

What is a Dental Hygienist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), the U.S. Department of Labor’s principal fact- finding agency for the federal government in the field of labor, economics, and statistics that provides data on employment and wages, Dental Hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene. They also educate patients about oral health.


Dental Hygienists typically do the following:

• Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
• Apply sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
• Take and develop dental x rays
• Assess patients’ oral health and report findings to dentists
• Document patient care and treatment plans
• Educate patients about oral hygiene techniques, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental Hygienists use many types of tools—including hand, power, and ultrasonic tools—in their work. In some cases, they use lasers. Hygienists remove stains with an air-polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a power tool that works like an automatic toothbrush. Hygienists also use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems.

Dental Hygienists talk to patients about ways to keep their teeth and gums healthy. For example, they may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They may also advise patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral care devices.

The tasks Dental Hygienists may perform, and the extent to which they must be supervised by a dentist, vary by state and by the setting in which the Dental Hygienist works. A few states allow hygienists with additional training, sometimes called dental therapists, to provide some restorative services, such as extracting primary teeth and placing temporary crowns.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Hygienists,

How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Get Paid?*

According to BLS, the median annual wage for dental hygienists was $77,810 in May 2021.

These numbers may vary based on geography and labor market.

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Hygienists, at

Best-paying states for Dental Hygienists**

According to BLS, Alaska and California report the highest average annual salaries for Dental Hygienists. On average, a Dental Hygienist in Alaska may earn an average annual salary of $115,510. California isn’t far behind, paying out $108,200 per year to Dental Hygienists on average.

**Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). Data as of March 2022

Interested in becoming a Dental Hygienist?

Visit Meritize Connect to Find Training Programs in Your Area

Dental Hygienist Job Outlook***

According to BLS, employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 15,600 openings for dental hygienists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

***Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Hygienists, at

Dental Hygienist Job Skills and Knowledge

According to O*NET Resource Center, people in this career often have these skills:

• Speaking – Talking to others.
• Active Listening – Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
• Critical Thinking – Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.

People in this career often know a lot about:

• Medicine and Dentistry – Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
• Customer and Personal Service – Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
• Psychology – Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
• Biology – Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
• Education and Training – Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Source: O*NET Resource Center

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