In the United States, the median dental hygienist salary is In the United States, the average median dental hygienist salary is about $67,000 per year or about $32 per hour. The highest 10th percentile of the workforce earns about $81,000 or more per year which is about $39 or more per hour. The lowest 10th percentile of the profession earns about $53,000 or less per year which is about $25 or less per hour. The middle 50% of dental hygienists earns a salary between $59,000 and $71,000 per year or between $28 and $35 per hour.
Dental hygienists receive other benefits on top of their base salary. Benefits such as bonuses, healthcare benefits, paid holidays, 401K, pension and social security contributions can bring the total annual remuneration of a dental hygienist to about a median of $94,000 per year.
Just like any other profession, a dental hygienist’s salary will be determined by many factors. Factors such as years of experience, type of establishment, geographical location and skills can all affect how much a dental hygienist makes. Those working in private practices may find their earnings different from those employed in hospitals. Some states pay higher than other states. Also, more experienced dental hygienists earn higher salaries than those just starting out.
Job description of a dental hygienist
What do dental hygienists do? They work together with the dentist to ensure the oral health needs of their patients. The responsibilities of a hygienist may vary from state to state because each states may have different regulations regarding the duties of hygienists. But in most cases, they may undertake the following duties:
- Screen dental patients: they perform such tasks as assessing of oral health conditions, reviewing the patient’s health history, screening for oral cancer and inspection of the head and neck. They also carry out dental charting and record blood pressure and pulse readings
- They prepare and take x-rays of the teeth and jaws (known as dental radiographs)
- They clean the teeth to remove deposits on the teeth such as calculus and plaque
- The apply mixtures known as cavity-preventive materials to the teeth
- Dental hygienists educate patients about general oral heath hygiene techniques such as how to floss, how to brush properly and nutrition
- They advise patients about the food they eat and how it affects their oral health
- They make models of a patient’s teeth (known as study casts) for the dentist to analyze
- Hygienists also perform general office and administrative tasks (especially those working in a private dentist’s office)
In some states, a dental hygienist may administer local anesthetics and place and carve filling materials. Hygienists often assists dentists when they are carrying out treatment procedures.
How to become a dental hygienist
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Most dental hygienists obtain their qualification through an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from a community college. There are dental hygiene programs available at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels but these are less common qualifications in this profession. Those wanting to work in a private practice are often required to have a minimum qualification of an associate’s degree or a certificate in dental hygiene. For those who want to work in a research or teaching capacity, they need to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene.
If you are currently attending high school and want to become a dental hygienist in the future, you should take classes in biology, mathematics and chemistry. Physics is also recommended. During your dental hygiene program, you will study such subjects as periodontology, nutrition, physiology, anatomy and radiography. Instructions will be classroom, laboratory and clinical based.
Dental hygienist salary in other countries (UK, Canada and Australia)
In Australia, the average salary of a dental hygienist is about AU$62,000 per year. The range for hygienists in Australia is between AU$50,000 and AU$73,000 per annum.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the starting salary is between £20,000 and £27,000 per year. For more experienced hygienists in the UK, they can expect an annual salary of between £33,000 and £40,000
Dental hygienists in Canada can expect an average salary of about CA$60,000 per year. The range in Canada is between CA$51,000 and CA$70,000 per year.
Verdict on dental hygienist salary
Although the above figures are a statistical representation of wages in this profession, the salary of dental hygienists can be determined by many different factors. Although they do not command some of the highest salaries in the healthcare industry, the dental hygienist salary is a very respectable considering that you don’t have to spend a very long time training to become one.