Breaking Down A Dental Hygienist’s Salary And How To Become One

Primary health care professionals working to provide full oral health care, called Dental Hygienist, have a median average salary of $70,556 per year while the average hourly salary peaks to $34 per hour.

Dental Hygienists basically focus on working with dental associations, nursing homes, clinics or hospitals after graduating from an accredited dental hygiene program to provide oral health care. From independent practice to private practice, dental hygienists can choose various career opportunities in research, public health, education, sales and marketing, and government to support the total health by promoting optimum health care.

What do Dental Hygienists do?

In general, dental hygienists help provide dental care by cleaning teeth, examining patients for different oral diseases, and providing education to the public to maintain a proper oral health.

In their professional practice, dental hygienists:

  • Removes stains, tartar, and plaque from the teeth of a patient
  • Apply chemicals like fluorides and sealants to protect cavities 
  • Develop X Rays 
  • Perform periodontal dressings
  • Carve filling materials and make fillings inside empty cavities
  • Provide education regarding brushing, flossing, and oral hygiene techniques

How can One become a Dental Hygienist?

To become a dental hygienist, one needs to have an associate’s degree in dental hygiene; most countries require accreditation and license for medical practices. A Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene is considered high esteem in Asian nations but is very less common in European and American nations. 

It is expected that students in high school who want to become dental hygienist should take courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics. The subjects are the basic entrance requirement for partaking in advanced studies related to the field. Dental Hygienists needs to study several health conditions related to oral hygiene. These include anatomy, nutrition, physiology, periodontology and radiography. Almost all schools offer their own laboratory for practice.

Dental Hygienist Essential Soft Skills

A dental hygienist should develop several qualities to go through his or her career. The set of soft skills required includes having compassion and being sensitive to the patients’ emotions, being detail-oriented and able to follow protocols and rules of dental hygiene while treating patients, dexterity, physical stamina, etc.

Below we spell out some skills that you should look out for in yourself if you are contemplating the profession. They include;

Compassion: Anyone in healthcare actually needs to care about people and seek to see them better.

Manual Dexterity: It is necessary to have good motor skills which will help develop instruments while working on patients.

Interpersonal Skills: Patients will need to trust the dental hygienist as they need to be relaxed while undergoing procedures.

Physical Stamina: A lot of standing time and bending over is often required to carry out duties, making it essential for the dental hygienist to be physically fit.

Read Also: How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

Best Dental Hygienist Schools

Considered as one of the world’s highest paying jobs, Dental Hygiene degrees are provided in almost all countries throughout the world from different universities. However, the United States is still considered one of the finest nations in the world for studying Dental Hygiene. Some of the top-ranking college/universities in the United States that provide several degrees in Dental Hygiene are:

1. Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) – Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene

2. University of Maryland (College Park, MD) – Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene

3. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) – Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene

4. University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) – 2-year dental hygiene program with another two years of foundation work

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Dental Hygienist Salary

How much do dental hygienists make? Well, the median annual wage for dental hygienists is $70,556, as of October 30, 2017, and an average salary of $77,230 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earning dental hygienists averaged to less than $60,565 a year while the top 10 percent highest-earning dental hygienists make more than $80,313 annually.

However, this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors and according to locations. Dental hygienists average a whopping sum of $108,790 per year in San Francisco; the highest-earning place for dental hygienists.

Dental Hygienists are likely to be around for a good time yet. The U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) has anticipated that Dental Hygienists’ employment, at least through 2024, will grow at a faster average than other occupations.

Average Dental Hygienist Salary by State 

State Annual Salary Monthly Pay Weekly Pay Hourly Wage
Washington $84,957 $7,080 $1,634 $40.84
Maryland $83,877 $6,990 $1,613 $40.33
Nebraska $82,127 $6,844 $1,579 $39.48
Virginia $81,050 $6,754 $1,559 $38.97
New York $80,954 $6,746 $1,557 $38.92
Delaware $78,520 $6,543 $1,510 $37.75
New Hampshire $78,317 $6,526 $1,506 $37.65
Oklahoma $76,330 $6,361 $1,468 $36.70
California $76,050 $6,337 $1,462 $36.56
Massachusetts $75,021 $6,252 $1,443 $36.07
Vermont $73,853 $6,154 $1,420 $35.51
Hawaii $72,627 $6,052 $1,397 $34.92
Wyoming $72,425 $6,035 $1,393 $34.82
Idaho $71,483 $5,957 $1,375 $34.37
Connecticut $70,624 $5,885 $1,358 $33.95
Maine $70,542 $5,878 $1,357 $33.91
West Virginia $70,355 $5,863 $1,353 $33.82
Pennsylvania $70,015 $5,835 $1,346 $33.66
Rhode Island $69,614 $5,801 $1,339 $33.47
Texas $69,251 $5,771 $1,332 $33.29
Alaska $69,202 $5,767 $1,331 $33.27
New Jersey $68,772 $5,731 $1,323 $33.06
Montana $68,691 $5,724 $1,321 $33.02
Nevada $68,658 $5,722 $1,320 $33.01
North Dakota $68,637 $5,720 $1,320 $33.00
Arizona $67,985 $5,665 $1,307 $32.68
Indiana $67,548 $5,629 $1,299 $32.48
Minnesota $67,001 $5,583 $1,288 $32.21
Tennessee $66,937 $5,578 $1,287 $32.18
Wisconsin $66,645 $5,554 $1,282 $32.04
South Dakota $66,633 $5,553 $1,281 $32.03
Ohio $66,452 $5,538 $1,278 $31.95
Kentucky $66,134 $5,511 $1,272 $31.80
Oregon $65,602 $5,467 $1,262 $31.54
Utah $65,595 $5,466 $1,261 $31.54
Georgia $65,583 $5,465 $1,261 $31.53
Louisiana $64,978 $5,415 $1,250 $31.24
South Carolina $64,879 $5,407 $1,248 $31.19
Colorado $64,633 $5,386 $1,243 $31.07
Kansas $64,618 $5,385 $1,243 $31.07
Alabama $64,049 $5,337 $1,232 $30.79
Iowa $63,979 $5,332 $1,230 $30.76
New Mexico $63,321 $5,277 $1,218 $30.44
Florida $61,813 $5,151 $1,189 $29.72
Arkansas $60,683 $5,057 $1,167 $29.17
Michigan $60,656 $5,055 $1,166 $29.16
Mississippi $60,535 $5,045 $1,164 $29.10
Illinois $60,353 $5,029 $1,161 $29.02
Missouri $59,389 $4,949 $1,142 $28.55
North Carolina $55,287 $4,607 $1,063 $26.58
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Some Interesting Questions and Answers

Q: How much does a dental hygienist make per hour?
A: Dental hygienists earned an average salary of $37.13 per hour in 2019.

Q: What is Average Dental Hygienist Pay vs Other Best Jobs?

A: Dental Hygienists earned an average salary of $77,230 in 2019. Comparable jobs earned the following average salary in 2019:

Dentists made $178,260
Registered Nurses made $77,460,
Clinical Laboratory Technicians made $54,780
Dental Assistants made $41,170


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