What Dental Hygienists Do
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 2016, almost all dental hygienists worked in dentists’ offices, and more than half worked part time.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists typically 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.
What Dentists Do
Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.
Dentists held about 151,500 jobs in 2014. Some dentists own their own businesses and work alone or with a small staff.
How to Become a Dentist
Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, although candidates usually must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.