What does a dental hygienist do?
This is an entry-level dentistry position and hygienists work under the supervision of a qualified dentist. Dental hygienists examine patients for gum disease such as gingivitis, working closely with patients of all ages. There is an advisory aspect to the role in that dental hygienists aim to educate patients on the causes of gum disease and tooth decay, providing useful information on topics such the use of mouthwash, dietary causes of poor oral health, cessation of smoking and causes of stains.
- Assisting in tooth cleaning process
- Dental charting
- Applying post-surgical dressing and remove sutures
- Polishing teeth
- Advising patients on preventative oral care
What skills do I need to be a dental hygienist?
Dental hygienists must have successfully completed the relevant qualifications. Necessary skills include a solid work ethic, a professional yet caring bedside manner, confidence in operating specialised dental equipment, and the ability and willingness to work long hours often on your feet. As the role requires close physical constant with patients, impeccable personal hygiene and good communication skills are essential. The role requires exceptional attention to detail, and the ability to quickly and efficiently follow instructions.
- Good hand-eye co-ordination
- Exceptional personal hygiene
- Ability to follow detailed instructions
- Ability to communicate with dental practitioners and patients
Dental hygiene is a stepping-stone to many different career paths. Tailor your studies and training to help you find fulfilment in your professional work. Below are some popular dentistry careers, and there are many more related roles that can be pursued in healthcare.
Study pathways for dental assistants
There are opportunities for employment in dental hygiene at many levels, from entry-level positions requiring vocational training to specialised study for those pursuing high-level roles within dentistry.
These vocational courses will allow you to join the dental profession in an entry-level role, requiring supervision from senior staff.
Study for career advancement. Qualify as a dental nurse or pursue a career specialisation.
These study options will enable you to pursue high-level employment options requiring extensive qualification or specialisation in a particular field.
Australian dental hygienists must register with the Dental Hygienists' Association of Australia (DHAA) after successful completion of the relevant tertiary qualifications.
Getting a job after graduation
Get your dental hygiene career off to a flying start and fast track your way into a job you’ll love. Target your cover letter and emphasise your qualifications to put your best foot forward when you apply for dentistry jobs.
Job Prospects and Salaries
More people than ever are keeping their natural teeth for their entire lives, and as such, in 2014, government economists predicted job growth for dental hygienists as one of the fastest growing occupations. Australia is currently experiencing a shortage of hygienists so employment opportunities are plentiful.