Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.
In 2014, almost all dental hygienists worked in dentists’ offices, and more than half worked part time.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Programs typically take 3 years to complete. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state.
Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health to general health will continue to spur demand for preventive dental services, which are provided by dental hygienists.
This occupation supported 192,800 jobs in 2012 and 200,500 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 4.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 33.2% in 2022 to 256,899 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 205,600, compared with an observed value of 200,500, 2.5% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 19.4% in 2024 to 237,900 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 269,700 jobs for 2024, 13.4% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.