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Dental hygienist

Alternative titles for this job include Oral health practitioner

Dental hygienists offer advice, information and treatments to prevent and treat tooth decay and gum disease.

Average salary (a year)

£24,907 Starter

to

£37,890 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 38 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on a rota

How to become a dental hygienist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

University

You could do either:

  • a 2-year foundation degree in oral health science
  • a 2-year diploma of higher education in dental hygiene, or dental hygiene and dental therapy
  • a 3-year degree in oral health science, or dental therapy and dental hygiene

Experience as a dental nurse may be useful. A recognised dental nurse qualification can sometimes take the place of an A level for course entry.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information

Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • Level 3 Dental nurse (integrated)
  • Level 4 Oral health practitioner

To do the oral health practitioner apprenticeship you must already be a dental nurse or other appropriate dental care professional, registered with the General Dental Council.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information

More Information

Registration

Further information

You can find out more about dental hygiene careers from the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You'll work with children and adults, one to one and sometimes groups, advising on how to take good care of their teeth and gums. You'll also use instruments to do dental treatments.

On a daily basis you could:

  • remove plaque
  • clean and polish teeth to help prevent gum disease
  • apply fluoride and sealant treatments to reduce decay
  • give local anaesthetic under the supervision of a dentist
  • apply temporary coatings and sealants to protect teeth
  • encourage and demonstrate tooth brushing and flossing
  • sterilise equipment
  • check and maintain patient records

Working environment

You could work at a dental practice, in an NHS or private hospital or at a health centre.

You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in dealing with particular groups like people with additional needs, or move into dental practice management.

With further training you could teach student dental hygienists.

You could also move into a related area like orthodontic therapy or health promotion.

You could serve in the Royal Navy as a dental hygienist. You can apply while you are still at university but have to be registered with the General Dental Council before you can start basic training.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Dental Nurse

  • Wage: To be agreed upon appointment Unspecified
  • Location: London

Apprentice Dental Nurse

  • Wage: £348.80 Weekly
  • Location: Lymington

Courses In England

Access to HE Science

  • Provider: BOURNEMOUTH AND POOLE COLLEGE, THE
  • Start date: 07 September 2021
  • Location: Poole

Access to HE: Science

  • Provider: SUFFOLK NEW COLLEGE
  • Start date: 13 September 2021
  • Location: Ipswich

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