Dental Hygienist Salary: Everything You Need to Know

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Dental Hygienist Salary: Everything You Need to Know Before Apply

Dental hygienist is on the top then of the most lucrative career list in the world right now. Generally speaking though, every job which requires someone to go to a medical school typically has a fantastic career opportunity, not the least of which being a dental hygienist. If you are wondering how much a dental hygienist salary is or its detailed job description, then by all means, read on and find out yourself.

What is a Dental Hygienist?

First thing first, let’s not confuse a dental hygienist with a dentist. A dental hygienist is responsible to provide preventative oral care under a dentist’s supervision. It means that she or he takes care of people’s teeth in terms of examining signs of damage and disease. A dental hygienist typically performs regular teeth cleanings, takes x-rays and also manages patients’ treatment records.   A dental hygienist polish and clean people’s teeth. They also remove plaque from beneath and above gum line as well as examine teeth and gums for complications. Even though they may work side by side with a dentist but a dental hygienist usually has their own office. Hygienists also teach patients how to take care of their teeth and to maintain good oral health. Generally speaking, their scope of practice is quite diverse and all depends on specific rules of the state where they work. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for a full time worker, a dental hygienist salary roughly reaches the number of $68.250 annually which means their hourly pay reaches $32. Statistically speaking, dental hygienists earned a median yearly wage of $72.910 in 2016. That’s a pretty big number. Moreover, for those who work as a part time job normally earn about $35 hourly.Dental Hygienist Salary


Both dentist and dental hygienist work side by side. For a frequent visitor of a dental office, you should be able to distinguish between these two professions by now. But if you still have them confuse then it’s okay. We’ll elaborate in the easiest way possible. During your visit to your dentist’s office, have you ever noticed that your dentist never works alone? There is at least one more person who also works on your teeth? That’s a dental hygienist. The one who cleans your teeth. You dentist is the person who performs fillings for cavities and repairs your teeth.

Here are some key differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist:

  1. They differ in terms of the amount of education they have. For you to be able to pursue a career as a dentist you have to get a degree and then proceeds to attend four more years of dental school whereas you will only need a 2 year of dental hygienist associate’s degree. Nevertheless, both will require you to pass a few exams to be licensed to work. Dentist, however, has to get a license specific to the state they will practice dentistry in.
  2. You will always meet with a dental hygienist first before you meet your dentist. You will then discuss about proper teeth cleaning with a dental hygienist and she or he will proceed to clean your teeth as well as check for any oral disease or gingivitis. After that, your dentist will step in and then diagnose any problems, repair your teeth if necessary, examine x-rays, perform root canals, filling for any cavity, prescribe medicine, dental crowns and many more. To put it simply, a dental hygienist provide service about general teeth care while a dentist perform more skilled treatments.
  3. Another startling difference lies in salary. Dentists are technically doctors so they are paid more than dental hygienists. However, even though dentist is a more lucrative career than a dental hygienist, according to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics there are two times more dental hygienists than dentists.

Despite all of these differences, both are equally trained to perform proper treatment to your teeth.

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Dentist Salary

Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

Now, you might be wondering if a dental hygienist is any different than a dental assistant. The answer is, there is a lot of difference. Despite the fact that both work under the supervision of a dentist, their roles in office vary a great deal. Both dental hygienist and dental assistant differ in their educational requirements, job duties, the number of hours they work as well as earnings. The amount of time they interact with a patient also varies. However, it’s safe to say that the biggest and most startling difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist is that the former works directly for a dentist like conducting office tasks as well as small supervised tasks on patients’ teeth while the latter often times performs alone with a patient and isn’t constantly supervised by a dentist. As mentioned before, a dental hygienist has to have a two year associate degree as well as a state license while for a dental assistant this rule is optional. It all depends on the state where they practice.

A dental assistant is responsible for tasks like escorting a patient to treatment rooms and preparing everything that is needed for examination procedures. They also sterilize instruments and give the dentist a hand during practice. Moreover, a dental assistant also schedules appointments as well as keeps records. They don’t examine and clean patients’ teeth, unlike dental hygienists. However, you might find some dental assistants who perform tasks such as applying fluoride and sealants in some states. Dental hygienists need more time to prepare for this career than dental assistants do. A dental assistant typically only earns half of what a dental hygienist does. If a dental hygienist salary reached the amount of $60.000 that means a dental assistant earns $30.000.

Dental Hygienist Education

As mentioned before, for someone to be able to pursue a career as a dental hygienist they must have a degree and an associate degree but exactly how long does it take to become a dental hygienist so that you can get a good dental hygienist salary? Generally speaking, in order to be able to work in dental hygiene field you will have graduate from a dental hygiene school, preferably an accredited one. You will have an associate degree, this is the most common case, but you can also graduate with a certificate, a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree. There are plenty of accredited programs and most schools that offer an associate degree program for dental hygiene are available online. Students are allowed to take basic as well as major courses via online classes. However, they have to gain some hands-on clinical experience in on-campus laboratories because they can only practice removing debris from gums and teeth, taking and interpreting x-rays and developing the skills for administering anesthesia in labs.

Here is some of basic information for taking an associate degree in dental hygiene:

  1. Online availability : blended format
  2. Degree levels : associate degree
  3. Program length : 3 years for associate degree
  4. In-person requirements : on-campus labs
  5. Licensure/ certification : state licensure required
  6. Median annual salary (as of 2016) : $72.910

An associate of applied science or an associate of science has to be completed in three years and pretty much every state requires a license for a dental hygienist to get a higher dental hygienist salary. After you have graduated, you will need to get a license from the dental board in a state that you plan to practice dentistry in. you will also have to take a written exam as well as a clinical exam. It is advisable for you to consult individual state dental boards and get information about their specific requirements. And because each state has its own rules and requirements so naturally they also sets their own dental hygienist salary which will be explained later on in this article.

A blended program means online work is included. Online coursework needs a steady and reliable internet access and generally speaking, students and instructors communicate through e-mail. Classes are facilitated through online bulletin boards and students as well as instructors are required to have the latest versions of web browsers and operating systems. Meanwhile, students are required to have uniforms, supplies and textbooks for on-site lab courses.

Note that, dental hygienist is not difference with other professions as far as education goes. This means that education also highly affects how much money you will be paid. American Dental Hygienist Association conducted a survey on this and the result shows that all hygienists who earn the most happen to possess special privileges or permits like performing anesthesia as well as holding the designation of Registered Dental Hygienist in Extended Functions. Meanwhile, those who only possess a high school diploma earn very littledental hygienist salary. So, there is no harm to continue your education after high school because a hygienist will earn additional income with each degree.

Dental Hygienist Salary by State

Each state offers different amount of salary for a dental hygienist. While we cannot deny that there are many other things that can be taken into account to go into how much one can expect to make as a dental salary, one can always rely on data for average salary for dental hygienists by state in the beginning. We have put together a few examples of dental hygienist salary by state to enlighten you in some way. The data gathered is pretty much reliable in 2018 so you can get a picture of how much you can expect to make as a dental hygienist.

Below is a list of top ten states that offer the best dental hygienist salary:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Arizona
  3. Washington
  4. Nevada
  5. Virginia
  6. Texas
  7. Idaho
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Alaska
  10. Illinois

Here is a more detailed list of average dental hygienist salary by state:

New Mexico $94.383 California $69.639
Arizona $85.845 Montana $69.176
Washington $85.693 New Jersey $69.056
Nevada $83.785 Michigan $69.044
Virginia $82.033 Oregon $68.096
Texas $80.463 Mississippi $67.473
idaho $79.945 Wisconsin $66.446
Oklahoma $78.912 Maryland $65.936
Alaska $78.482 North Dakota $65.895
Illinois $77.473 New Hampshire $65.692
Colorado $77.215 Connecticut $64.933
Missouri $76.316 Kentucky $64.806
Iowa $75.791 Florida $64.079
Arkansas $75.143 Pennsylvania $64.471
Indiana $75.117 Rhode Island $61.599
Wyoming $74.956 Massachusetts $60.757
Utah $73.731 South Carolina $60.201
Tennessee $73.143 Louisiana $58.132
Kansas $73.114 New York $58.908
Nebraska $72.587 West Virginia $57.880
Ohio $72.142 Maine $55.992
North Carolina $72.097 South Dakota $55.458
Delaware $71.479 Vermont $53.806
Georgia $71.444 Alabama $49.078
Minnesota $70.763 Hawaii $44.425


The median dental hygienist salary or “midpoint” wage for this profession is $69.00 annually. This figure doesn’t account for experience though. Just like any other jobs, dental hygienists make less than the aforementioned figure when starting their career. If you happen to have less than one year experience, you can expect to make roughly $12.38 per hour which makes up for $26.000 per year. On the bright side, hygienists have the potential to earn $34.88 per hour which makes up the figure $72.00 per year. This is quite an impressive amount for pretty much any other new professionals. Good news for you who have more than five or more years of experience because you can expect to earn at least $93.000 per year. The point is, there is always room to grow as far as wage goes.

Job Description

Did you know that the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has dubbed this career as a “Bright Outlook” profession because of its extraordinary job outlook? Yes, there is a really sweet prospect for those who wish to pursue a career in dental hygiene. The demand for dental care is skyrocketing which makes employment of dental hygienist increases. This profession is dubbed to be one of the 30 fastest growing careers. Moreover, there are a lot of opportunities available both for part time work as well as flexible schedules. So, it’s safe to say this is a career you should pursue because dental hygienist salary is also pretty impressive.

To make you even more knowledgeable and prepared in this field, here are a couple of dental hygienist requirementsand skills that you need to have:

  1. You need to have a compassion. Patients will surely go through pain and be stressed out. You will be expected to be compassionate to your patients’ needs.
  2. Attention to detail is important. There are rules to different kind of treatment. A dental hygienist needs to know the difference between treating tooth disease and gum.
  3. Great dexterity. A great dental hygienist means they are good at using their hands. Fumbling around while working in close proximity with your patient’s mouth is something you don’t want to do.
  4. A dental hygienist also needs to master interpersonal skills. Meaning that you have to have a good listening and speaking skills. Listening and talking with your patients are two things that you can expect to do a lot besides doing your job. You should be able to give clear explanation and instruction on gum and gum health and how to maintain proper cleaning.
  5. Great stamina is also needed. Remember that as a dental hygienist, you will be spending a lot of time bending over and on your feet while working
  6. Possess technical skills. Note that a dental hygienist works with multiple tools like power brushes, x-ray machines, etc.
  7. You are required to perform standard dental health maintenance, infection control as well as health promotion and maintenance
  8. Know standard bedside manner
  9. Have good teamwork skills
  10. Able to administer medication
  11. Thoroughness
  12. Self-development
  13. Able to create a safe and effective working environment

On the other hand, here is a list of general responsibilities that you can expect to perform as a dental hygienist.

  1. Complete preliminary examinations on new patients
  2. Take x-rays of a patient’s teeth as well as develop them for dentist’s use
  3. Explain treatments as well as office procedures to patients
  4. Complete dental prophylaxis by cleaning debris as well as stains from teeth and under gum margins
  5. Evaluate patients’ overall oral health which includes examining any potential oral cavity for signs of periodontal disease or cancers like recessed and bleeding gums, sores and oral lesions
  6. Administer local anesthesia
  7. Chart disease, decay, conditions and all kind of treatment that your dentist recommends
  8. Restock all supplies needed as well as maintain office equipment
  9. Contribute to team effort by completing related result as necessary
  10. Able to maintain professional as well as technical knowledge by occasionally attending workshop related to the field; reviewing professional journal publications; establishing networks; taking part in professional societies
  11. Able to conserve dental resources by using supplies and equipment as necessary to complete job results
  12. Make sure operation of dental equipment by doing preventive maintenance requirements. It is also advisable to follow manufacturer’s instructions, call for repairs, troubleshoot any malfunction, maintain equipment inventories as well as evaluate new and fresh equipment
  13. Able to protect employees as well as patients by conforming to infection-control protocols and policies

Employment opportunities for dental hygienists are always wide open not to mention the sweet amount of dental hygienist salary that this profession offers. Demand for good dental care will continue to grow so logically the demand for more dental hygienist practice will continue to grow as well. Below is some source for dental hygienist salary :

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