Dental hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventive dental care. They examine patients’ teeth and gums, recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities.
Full-time, part-time, evening, and weekend schedules are common. Dentists frequently hire hygienists to work only two or three days a week, so hygienists may hold jobs in more than one dental office. Dental hygienists worked approximately 35 hours a week. Dental hygienists held about 174,100 jobs in 2008. Because multiple job holding is common in this field, the number of jobs exceeds the number of hygienists.
In 2012, Dental Hygiene was listed as one of the top four careers. Dental hygienists rank among the fastest growing occupations. The demand for dental services will grow because of population growth, older people increasingly retaining more teeth, and a growing emphasis on preventative dental care. To help meet this demand, facilities that provide dental care, particularly dentists’ offices, will increasingly employ dental hygienists, often to perform services that have been performed by dentists in the past. Ongoing research indicating a link between oral health and general health also will increase the demand for preventative dental hygiene services.
Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 36 percent through 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This projected growth ranks dental hygienists among the fastest growing occupations, in response to increasing demand for dental care and more use of hygienists.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics