Career Paths – the Dental Hygienist

The medical industry has always represented one of the most exciting and prosperous career paths across much of the Western World, though the dental profession seems to be one niche that often gets overlooked in terms of genuine focus.

Nevertheless, dental jobs up and down the UK are being snapped-up like never before and have the potential to lead on to some of the most desirable and indeed enviable careers in life.

Perhaps the most commonly sought position according to the national dental recruitment agencies is that of the dental hygienist. So, for those looking to take their lives on a bold new direction and at the same time make a real difference in the lives of thousands, what exactly do dental hygienist jobs entail?

Dental Hygienist Job Description

When a person makes a visit to the dentist’s surgery for a routine check-up or examination, chances are they will find it is the dental hygienist with whom they spend most of their time.

Often mistaken as something of a rudimentary assistant to act as a second pair of hands for the dentist, the dental hygienist is in fact also a fully-qualified dental professional with a specialism in oral health and tooth-care.

A qualified dental hygienist will carry out a variety of everyday tasks including full inspections of teeth and gums for problem detection, professional cleaning of teeth, examination of any current or previous work and the offering of advice and guidance on how to maintain optimum oral health for the whole family.

Exactly how far the duties of the hygienist go will vary significantly depending on the practice itself and their own level of experience in the industry.

Entry Requirements
Like most in the medical profession, these kinds of dental nursing jobs are extremely vocational and are thus only open to those with the relevant skills and qualifications. As far as general education goes, it is usually a prerequisite that candidates must possess at least five GCSE qualifications at grad C or above, before being allowed to continue on to the certification stage.

In order to practice in the UK legally, a dental hygienist must take and pass the appropriate course which is fully approved and accredited by the General Dental Council of Great Britain. Such courses enable a person to register with the GDC, which is a mandatory requirement for most dental jobs UK offices post.

As far as duration goes, the course is listed as two years though can take up to 27 months to complete on a full-time basis. Along the way, students will be exposed to critical areas of importance including dental health education, anatomy, preventative dentistry and the general management of patients. There are also some schools and courses that take things further to include studies on dental therapy.

Generally speaking, there are various ways and means by which to obtain financial support while studying, though this differs according to personal circumstances and must be looked into ahead of time.

A Typical Day
The duties of any given dental hygienist differ significantly depending on their own experience and the practice in question, but will more often than not include a variety of standards including:

  • Professional tooth-cleaning for general hygiene and the removal of excessive build-ups
  • The performing of dental X-Rays, usually in conjunction with a radiologist
  • Assessment of X-Rays and corresponding documents
  • Study of patient records to monitor care, treatment and on-going problems
  • Educating patients and families on the subject of oral health and hygiene
  • Preparation of materials and tools for use by the dentist
  • Assisting the dentist during all procedures and surgeries carried out in the office
  • Application of fluoride and various other supplements to the teeth of patients
  • And depending on the practice itself and the experience of the hygienist, further duties may include:
  • The reassurance of nervous patients
  • Administration or control of local anaesthetics for surgery
  • Application of fillings and various temporary dressings
  • Minor corrections of caps, braces and bridgework

Finding a Post

Nowadays, searching and applying for any and every dental job UK surgeries list couldn’t be easier, thanks in no small part to the introduction of the online dental recruitment agency. These innovative services have been created to serve as veritable career aggregation sites whereby each and every dental receptionist, nurse, hygienist and indeed all other such vacancies across the board are brought together in one place for incredible ease of use.

Once the necessary qualifications have been earned, it is simply a case of using these online resources to look into the hundreds of dental vacancies posted up and down the UK every day – a far cry from the long-winded and often fruitless dental recruitment processes of years gone by

There’s really never been a better time to look into the possibilities and give real thought to building an exciting new career path in the world of British dentistry.

If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist or already are one and want some great tips, visit


Francesca Holmes is a dental recruitment specialist from Swansea with decades of experience in various arms of the UK medical industry. She now dedicates her time to finding the ideal posts for the most talented individuals across the length and breadth of the land.

  • mark victoria

    Dental Hygiene is a noble profession seeking to reduce the burden of disease in society. Working under the monopoly of dentists, hygienists are limited to performing dental cleanings in the least amount of time possible. A constant race against the clock for increased profitability.

    Dentist have opened – a much larger than needed – number of dental hygiene schools where, unlike the number of dentist graduates which is severely limited to control supply, the number of hygienists has resulted in the flooding of the market, decreasing work conditions, pay and job satisfaction in dental hygienists.

    Google the topic before enrolling in dental hygiene schools. What was great 5 years ago is now a mediocre situation and is degrading.

  • mark victoria

    This description confuses a dental hygienist with a dental assistant.
    Dental hygienists are not trained to assist the dentist, the operate an a preventative specialist and works apart from the dentists in different operatives but collaborate in that the dentist provides a dental diagnosis while the hygienists does the dental hygiene diagnosis.

    Please revise you description if appropriate.