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Dental hygienist

Alternative titles for this job include Oral health practitioner

Dental hygienists give advice and treat tooth decay and gum disease.

Average salary (a year)

£28,000 Starter


£43,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 38 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on a rota

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Dental hygienist

You can get into this job through a university course.


You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • oral health science
  • dental hygiene
  • dental therapy

When you apply for a university course, it might help to have some experience as a dental nurse. 

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


To become a dental hygienist, you could start with the Dental Nurse (Integrated) Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship. 

You could also do the Oral Health Practitioner Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship if you already work in dental care and you're registered with the General Dental Council.

You would then need to complete further training in dental hygiene to become a registered dental hygienist.

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


Professional and industry bodies

You will need to take a course approved by the General Dental Council (GDC) so that you can then register with the GDC.

Further information

You can find more information on becoming a dental hygienist and other roles within a dental team at Health Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a dental hygienist, you'll work with children and adults either on their own or in a group. You'll tell them how to take good care of their teeth and gums.

On a daily basis you could:

  • clean and polish teeth to help prevent gum disease
  • complete different treatments to reduce and prevent decay
  • give local anaesthetic under the supervision of a dentist
  • encourage and demonstrate tooth brushing and flossing
  • 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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience or more training, you could:

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Dental Nurse Apprentice

  • Wage: £13,312 a year Annually
  • Location: HUDDERSFIELD

Dental Nurse Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £13,312 a year Annually
  • Location: BRISTOL

Courses In England

Access to HE - Science

  • Provider: Harrow, Richmond & Uxbridge Colleges (HRUC)
  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: Twickenham

Science - Access to HE

  • Start date: 23 September 2024
  • Location: Richmond

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