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What is a Dental Hygienist’s Salary?

Dental hygienists play an important role in a dental office as they clean patients’ teeth and help them maintain their oral health.

What is a Dental Hygienist’s Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for dental hygienists in 2014 was $71,970.

The Top Paying Industries

The BLS reports that the top paying industries for this profession are:

  • Dental Offices – $72,300
  • Employment Services – $69,360
  • Outpatient Care Services – $67,920
  • Offices of Physicians – $67,440

Top Paying States

The top five highest paying states are: District of Columbia ($95,570), California ($94,370), Washington ($91,370), Nevada ($89,320), and Arizona ($82,050).

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas 

The highest paying metropolitan areas and mean annual wages earned are:

  • San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City, California Metropolitan Division = $111,380
  • Vallejo – Fairfield, California = $103,750
  • Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville, California = $103,360
  • Corvallis, Oregon = $99,870
  • Mount Vernon – Anacortes, Washington = $98,510
  • Santa Cruz – Watsonville, California $97,310
  • Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, California Metropolitan Division = $97,300
  • Bremerton – Silverdale, Washington $97,100
  • Olympia, Washington = $96,500
  • Longview, Washington $95,880

Other Factors in Determining Salary 

Along with location and industry, determining factors include:

Experience

Just like most professions, a dental hygienist’s experience plays a big role when it comes to salary.

Education

Dental hygienists need at least an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene or a certificate. However, those who earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene are likely to make more money. Dentistry courses include:

  • Dental Ethics
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Pharmacology
  • Dental Radiology
  • Clinical Periodontics
  • Community Oral Health
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Oral and Dental Anatomy
  • Oral Pathology

Certification/Licensure

Accoring to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, each state along with the District of Columbia require dental hygienists to register or become licensed.

Job Duties

In some instances, the number of job duties factors into a dental hygienists salary. They are based on employer, and at times, a state’s rules and regulations, and may include:

  • Performing a patient’s routine check-up
  • Polishing a patient’s teeth and removing plaque
  • Reviewing a patient’s oral health history and documenting any changes
  • Taking dental x-rays and developing the film
  • Removing sutures and dressings
  • Sculpting materials used to fill cavities
  • Providing nutritional counseling and self-care programs to teach people how to prevent oral diseases and dental decay
  • Stocking required supplies
  • Administering local anesthetics
  • Preparing models of teeth that are used to explain oral hygiene to patients
  • Arresting dental decay by applying fluorides and other cavity preventing agents
  • Protecting both employees and patients by following the proper procedures and protocols
  • Ensuring the dental equipment is functioning properly
  • Contributing to the team effort
  • Helping the dentist in the event a patient has a dental or medical emergency
  • Providing patients with post-operative care instructions
  • Effectively answering a patient’s questions regarding treatment
  • Carving, placing, and finishing amalgam restorations

Common Skills

Most dental hygienists have the following skills:

  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to pay attention to detail
  • Keeping a positive attitude at all times
  • Hand and finger dexterity
  • Control precision
  • Speech clarity
  • Inductive reasoning

Working Conditions

Dental hygienists can either work part or full-time, and they may have to work evening or weekend hours. Their working environment is sterile and well-lit, and in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, they wear safety glasses, surgical masks, and gloves.

Job Outlook

The BLS states there will be a 33 percent job growth between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average. This is mainly due to the fact that more people are getting preventive dental care.

If you have any questions regarding the salary of dental hygienists or about the career in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Most report a high degree of satisfaction with their job, so if you enjoy working with people of all ages, this may be the career for you.