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Career profile: Dental hygienist

Career profile: Dental hygienistGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

A dental hygienist works to prevent dental disease and decay through cleaning and polishing the teeth.

On the job

The main aim of a dental hygienist is to prevent tooth and gum decay, so a large part of the job is scaling, cleaning and polishing teeth and applying antibacterial agents.

While most dental hygienists work in general dental practices alongside dentists, some work in hospitals where they might be required to help patients who are having surgery or complicated orthodontic treatment.

Course entry requirements

Five GCSE subjects graded A to C or Standard grades 1-3 or the equivalent, plus two A-levels (four Highers grades) or a recognised dental nursing qualification.

What does the training involve?

To practice as a dental hygienist you need to have undertaken an appropriate course approved by the General Dental Council. This will allow you to register with the General Dental Council, which is a mandatory requirement.

The course is usually two years (or up to 27 months) long on a full-time basis and is offered by dental schools and also the Defence Dental Services Training Establishment. Subjects studied include anatomy and physiology, preventive dentistry, dental health education, dental pathology and the management and care of patients. Several dental schools offer courses combining dental hygiene and dental therapy.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)