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Dental hygienist

A dental hygienist helps to prevent dental decay by cleaning patients’ teeth and providing them with education about how to care effectively for their teeth and gums and the effects of diet on oral health.

Dental hygienists deal with the prevention of dental problems: this involves performing a variety of examinations and cleaning procedures. They work closely with dentists.

In the Republic of Ireland dental hygienists are employed by the HSE, or by private dental surgeries. In Northern Ireland NHS Northern Ireland are typical employers, as are The Community Dental Service and private dental surgeries.

Work activities

  • Providing health information about tooth care and diet.
  • Using specialised dental instruments to treat patients.
  • Carrying out screening and monitoring procedures.
  • Scaling and polishing teeth to remove plaque and calculus.
  • Taking impressions and X-rays.

Work conditions

Travel: is not usually a feature: work is based in a dental surgeries and hospitals.
Working hours: typically seven or eight hours a day, but some longer hours occur.
Location: opportunities are possible in most towns and cities.

Entry requirements

Graduates in the Republic of Ireland require the Diploma in Dental Hygiene which is a two year course. The Irish Dental Hygienists Association lists course providers. In Northern Ireland a two-year course approved by the General Dental Council is necessary. Dental hygienists must be registered in order to practise.