Dental hygienists are highly valued members of every dental practice team. They interact with patients and help them with their oral health. This means that every dental hygienist needs to possess certain skills to succeed in their field.

Important Skills That Every Dental Hygienist Must Possess

Dental hygienist skills include soft skills and hard skills. Let’s look at them in detail.

Soft Skills

These refer to the skills that are hard to quantify and which characterize a person’s relationships with other people.

  1. Eager Learner

All dental hygienists are required to pass 3 to 5 board exams to gain a license to practice. If you don’t have an eager learner, it will be difficult for you to grow in the profession. Because this field demands continuing education as you need to renew your license every 2-3 years.

  • Time Management Skills

You must be able to manage your time and work efficiently. You will have to examine many patients, and unless you have good time management skills, you will find it difficult to work. The ability to plan ahead, stay organized, and prioritize tasks is a must.

  • People Skills

The job requires you to interact with a lot of patients. A dental visit can be quite stressful and scary for the patient. As a dental hygienist, you must be able to provide them a stress-free experience. This is possible only when you develop a genuine rapport with the patients.

  • Ethical Behavior

Your actions and behavior must uphold the standards of care set by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). As a dental hygienist, you must use your professional knowledge and judgment to provide the best oral care.

Hard Skills

These refer to the technical skillset you need for the job.

  1. Technical Skills

The first task will be the initial dental assessments of the patients. You will examine the patients’ mouth first and report the findings to the dentist.

You will have to take and develop x-rays for examination. The dentist will provide the necessary treatment based on your assessment and examination reports.

You will be responsible for removing teeth stains which includes teeth whitening, removing plaque, and tartar from patients’ teeth. Apart from that, it is your job to educate the patients on good oral health techniques. This includes telling them how to brush and floss properly, and apply fluorides and sealants.

  • Visual Requirements 

It doesn’t seem like an obvious skill, but every dental hygienist must have a good vision. You should be able to see the patient’s teeth clearly from some distance away, say at least 20-inches. You must be able to visually differentiate the colors and identify any change in tissue conditions. You should also be able to detect small radiographic density changes. Apart from that, you need to have good hand-eye coordination.

  • Motor Skills

A dental hygienist’s job requires superb motor skills. You need to have the tactile ability to use small instruments with proper control. Your fingers need sensory perception for easy detection and removal of tooth deposits. Lastly, you must possess full manual dexterity, which means you should be able to work with both arms, hands, wrists, and all the fingers.

  • Physical Endurance 

The job of a dental hygienist is pretty physical. You need to stand for most of the procedures and perform repetitive motions like bending and twisting. If the patients need help, you must be able to assist them to and from the dental chairs. You should have the physical endurance to perform the dental tasks for hours, either by sitting or standing.

If you lack any of these skills, train yourself in them. These essential skills will pave your way to success in this field.

Author Bio: 

Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality on a daily basis and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training. Her firm belief that even experts need to stay updated about what’s new in the dental field, enables her to provide every patient with optimal oral care. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.