Dental Hygienist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Dental hygienists perform various duties in a dentist’s office for patients to achieve and maintain good oral health. They typically conduct initial screenings, take patient X-rays, clean teeth, take note of any issues or potential issues, and educate patients on proper teeth care. Some dental hygienists also assist dentists with dental emergencies. A dental hygienist must have good people skills and the ability to build trust with patients. They need an in-depth knowledge of health and safety rules and regulations and a trained eye to spot oral diseases and anomalies. Dental hygienists also maintain documentation and charts on each patient.

Patience and a friendly disposition are requirements for a dental hygienist. They must have good attention to detail and empathy as many patients are frightened or anxious when they go to the dentist’s office. A dental hygienist needs to have good problem-solving skills and should be a critical thinker. They should be able to stay calm in the event of an emergency or an unexpected situation. 

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National Average Salary

Dental hygienist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Dental Hygienist is:


Dental Hygienist Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great dental hygienist is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1

We believe in providing high-quality dental care to all of our patients regardless of their oral health status. Because of our commitment to patient satisfaction, we’re looking for an experienced dental hygienist in [your location] to help promote correct oral health practices. Your role will be helping patients decide which dental treatments are best for them, while also being available to assist in any dental emergencies. [Your company name] is committed to providing the highest-quality dental care, which is why we’re looking for a hygienist who has proven experience working with people of all ages and backgrounds. [Your company name] is a patient-centered practice, and we’re looking for someone motivated who will take part in our patient-centric culture.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Prepare and calibrate machinery for printing and other tasks
  • Operate machinery and maintain press to meet product specifications
  • Examine and clean patients’ teeth and gums
  • Educate patients on how to properly care for their gums and teeth and optimize their oral health through proper flossing and brushing
  • Evaluate patients’ mouths and gums for oral disease
  • Document care and treatments plans
  • Apply sealants and fluoride to protect teeth
  • Use a wide variety of tools, such as hand and power tools, x-ray machines, ultrasonic tools, and lasers
  • Review and communicate findings to dentists

Education and experience

  • Associates or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene or related field
  • Accreditation through the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) as a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
  • Three years of related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Exceptional verbal communication skills
  • Impeccable attention to detail
  • Proficiency using power tools and manual dexterity
  • Ability to conduct dental assessments
  • Excellent problem solving
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience working in a fast-paced dental office
  • Willing to work flexible hours
  • Experience creating a friendly atmosphere for patients

Example 2

Our practice is seeking a highly-skilled Registered Dental Hygienist to deliver exceptional clinical care. Our hygienists provide patients with the best education and support for the upkeep of their oral health. The ideal candidate is self-motivated and eager to grow their skillset through the mentorship of our Dentists. Our practice includes an all-inclusive clinical team that provides specialty care.


  • Strive to provide the best patient experience
  • Assist with documentation and the upkeep of records
  • Listen, empathize and address all patient concerns
  • Provide clear communication and education on treatment plans and maintaining oral health.
  • Oversee operatory set-up and clean-up, including sterilization process.
  • Take radiographs/x-rays
  • Support office manager with company initiatives such as Adit, Recallmax, Aging, and Abella


  • State licensure and certification in dental hygiene
  • CRP Certification – Radiography/x-ray certification per state guidelines
  • Well versed in dental terminology and procedures
  • Maintains a positive, collaborative, and supportive disposition with team and patients
  • Maintain compliance with state dental practice requirements (i.e., X-ray requirements, OSHA, and CE training).
  • Understands and complies with HIPAA and HITECH Act of 2009

Dental hygienists receive

  • Clinical hours that support work-life balance
  • Mentoring by top-rated, experienced clinicians
  • Continuing Education opportunities and seminars
  • Comprehensive support team
  • Eligibility for benefits including Medical, Dental, Flexible Spending Account, & 401(K) Plan

Example 3

The Dental Hygienist provides patient education, intra-oral and extra-oral screenings of every patient seen, prophylaxis cleaning and polishing of the teeth, and Root Scaling and Planning for periodontal disease per practice protocols and as directed by the dentist. This person will support the mission, vision, values, and will adhere to compliance protocols as well as the policies and procedures.

Dental hygienist essential duties and responsibilities:

  • Greet and welcome all assigned patients
  • Conduct a medical and dental history with every patient contacting outside physicians when appropriate prior to care
  • Complete a thorough intra and extra oral exam for all patients
  • Take dental radiographs when appropriate
  • Provide prophylaxis cleaning and polishing of teeth
  • Provide root scaling and planning of teeth
  • Provide appropriate patient education as needed example: periodontal disease
  • Confer with treating dentist on all patients seen
  • Make necessary referrals to specialists where appropriate based upon practice guidelines
  • Document all patient activity in the patient chart
  • Sets up and breaks down treatment room between patients
  • Performs any lab tasks pertinent to role as assigned by the clinical manager and/or dentist
  • Follows all safety protocols
  • Other duties as assigned

Admin and reception duties

  • Answers phones as needed
  • Schedules new and established patent appointments as needed
  • In instances where a late emergency arrives, support the Dental Center Practice Manager or in his/her absence, the dentist on duty by supporting the care team where appropriate with service through patient’s final discharge
  • Observe and cooperate with the security of the Dental center at all time


  • Compassion
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Attention to Detail
  • Physical Stamina

Essential skills and qualifications

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Must have graduated with Associates in Dental Hygiene from an accredited school
  • Must have a valid Massachusetts license to practice as a Dental Hygienist
  • Maintain a current CPR license
  • Attend continuing education meetings at the dental center when scheduled
  • Be efficient and proficient in Dentrix and any other software required at the Dental Center

Example 4

Currently seeking a new, licensed Dental Hygienist for a great opportunity. Under the general supervision of a Dentist, the Dental Hygienist will be responsible for delivering direct dental care and associated services to patients as well as providing general support to the office.


  • Assist with basic procedures, including scaling and prophylaxis, x-rays, application of sealants & fluoride, etc.
  • Provide excellent customer service by looking for opportunities to offer same day care
  • Educate patients and parents in oral hygiene instruction
  • Assess the dental condition and needs of patients and review patient’s medical history
  • Guide parents and patients through our entire treatment process
  • Assist with dental and periodontics charting, when necessary
  • Take x-rays and save into patient charts, when necessary
  • Perform other duties, as needed


  • Bachelor’s Degree (New graduates are encouraged to apply!)
  • Current licensure as a Dental Hygienist in good standing
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Highly organized

Desired skills

  • 1+ year of experience practicing Dental Hygiene with Adults and Children

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Dental Hygienists may need to enroll in continuing education. Credit hours vary by state. Allow candidates plenty of time to attend courses to account for the appropriate number of CEU hours needed.
  • After earning a Dental Hygienist certificate, all dental hygienists are required to become licensed, except for those working in the state of Alabama. Candidates must pass a written licensing exam. Most states require candidates to have a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as pass the state licensing exam for whatever state they’re practicing in. Schools may offer practice sessions to help prepare for the examination.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What interests you about being a dental hygienist in our dental office?
  • What do you know about our dental office and dentists?
  • What measures do you take to stay updated on dental technology and practices?
  • What dental tools do you use on a daily basis?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a medical emergency?
  • How comfortable are you with conducting patient exams to learn more about the patient’s oral health?
  • How many years of experience do you have as a dental hygienist?
  • Describe a time you received negative criticism from a patient. How did you handle it?
  • How do you maintain a good relationship with dentists and co-workers?
  • Describe a time you improved processes or workflow in a dental office.
  • Have you worked with dental assistants before? How did that go?
  • Describe one of your most satisfying moments of being a dental hygienist. How do you define success with each patient?

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