Careers in Dental Hygiene

What skills will I use on the job?

Dental Hygiene student working on a patient

The dental hygienist is a licensed dental health care professional who specializes in periodontal therapy and oral health education. Graduates of PCC’s Dental Hygiene program will also be prepared to sit for examination and endorsement in Placing and Finishing dental restorations. In the dental office, the dental hygienist assesses the patient’s oral health, plans appropriate therapy, treats periodontal (gum) disease, and provides follow-up care. The hygienist provides a variety of preventive services including the application of sealants to children’s teeth, nutritional counseling and oral health education to individuals and community groups.

Specific duties may vary from state to state or according to the place of work: oral prophylaxis (cleaning teeth), complete oral health assessments, taking, developing and interpreting X-rays, applying topical fluorides, administration of local anesthetic and nitrous oxide sedation, and periodontal therapy.

Who will hire me?

Areas of employment include private dental offices or clinics, public health agencies, armed forces and teaching in educational institutions.

How much can I earn?

Approximate wage in the Portland area is $32 to $38 per hour.