Five Must-Have Skills for Dental Hygienists

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a professional trained in the field of oral health and hygiene. They work closely with the dentists and are mainly responsible for educating patients on matters such as maintaining oral hygiene, dental routines, and preventive dental care. 

What do Dental Hygienists do?

One of the main responsibilities of a dental hygienist is called dental prophylaxis, also known as teeth cleaning. This is the process of removing plaque, tartar, and stains from teeth by following approved procedures. Teeth cleaning aids in minimizing the risks of tooth decay, gum infections, and diseases, as well as numerous oral health concerns. Besides this, a dental hygienist is required to educate their patients on the different ways in which they can maintain oral hygiene and care for their dental implants. 


A dental hygienist can help you formulate an oral hygiene routine with their knowledge and understanding of the enamel. A great dental hygienist would create a sense of responsibility among patients, encouraging them to take steps to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Understanding the Role of Dental Hygienists

A Dental hygienist should instill in their patients the importance of caring for their teeth. Whether it is brushing their teeth regularly, or learning how to floss correctly. A Dental hygienist should be able to guide patients through all aspects of oral hygiene. They should educate the patients about the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle, as well as how oral health and hygiene affect overall health. 

Dental hygienists can conduct preliminary examinations before referring the patients to the dentists. This ensures that even if the dentist is swamped at work, the patient gets a thorough examination, and has all their concerns addressed. 

These examinations evaluate the general oral health, warning signs for gum infections or diseases, and other alarming factors. If necessary, dental hygienists also conduct dental x-rays for better diagnosis and precise treatment procedures. 

Closely working with dentists is crucial for dental hygienists as it ensures the effective development of treatment plans for the patient. Most of the time, simply having a second set of eyes helps identify the early onset of severe problems and prevents the patient from having to suffer invasive procedures later on. 


5 Skills Dental Hygienists Must Possess

While formal education in Dental hygiene, and possessing RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) credentials are the key requirements, certain skills help you stand out amongst other candidates for the role of a Dental hygienist. Here are 5 of those skills that you should consider working on to set yourself apart as the ideal candidate.

1. Competency & Adaptability

What sets you apart as a great dental hygienist is to abide by the rules and be ethical in all your practices. This is often overlooked, but following the precautions and protocols of patient confidentiality diligently can make a huge difference. Patients do not want their history to be accessible, and they rely on clinics to keep this information confidential. But it is the dental hygienist that patients have contact with and the one they trust with all their concerns.  

A dental hygienist must have the versatility to deal with diverse clinical settings. A successful dental hygienist is aware and well-versed in industry trends. They are ready to learn new techniques and skills because they know that this ultimately benefits the patients, who are their top priority. 

If you are looking for a career in dentistry, and dental hygiene be it part-time or full-time, it is important to groom yourself professionally and enhance your skill set. You never know when opportunity will knock on your door. 

2. Clinical Competence

A dental hygienist must be highly skilled in their line of work, which includes dental cleaning, scaling, and polishing. This is what the majority of their work will center around. A dental hygienist should also have the necessary training to conduct procedures such as dental x-ray, root canals, and dental fillings when necessary

Taking care of patients is a crucial part of working as a dental hygienist. This is why you must be highly trained and efficient, guaranteeing effective oral health management. Patients will rely on you to effectively eliminate plaque and tartar by following safe dental procedures. They also rely on you to teach them how they can avoid tooth decay, dental erosion, and gum diseases. 

3: Effective Communication Skills

An important part of the dental hygienist’s role is to provide clear information and effective strategies to patients. A larger chunk of your day will be spent explaining medical protocols, walking patients through procedures, and breaking down medical jargon so that your patients can understand in simple terms, the complexities of oral health. 

Patients often seek professional care when they are stressed. They are looking for instant relief and are scared of what they might get diagnosed with. But as a dental hygienist, your job is to gently push them out of this state of ignorance, and guide them towards strategies and solutions. Be that in the form of treatment or advice. A dental hygienist’s responsibility is to arm their patients with knowledge, giving them clarity on how to best take care of their teeth. 

Effective communication doesn’t end with patients. Dental hygienists work in dental clinics, and so they are also required to coordinate with the other departments, sharing necessary information across different channels, and following up on procedures.

4. Compassionate & Warm

Empathy and genuineness can go a long way and are especially important traits for a dental hygienist to embody. If your patients feel that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being, they will come back to you, no matter how many dentists or dental clinics are in town. Understanding the patient’s situation, and empathizing with their pain and anxiety should always take precedence over the treatment. Simply because the treatment is made possible only after the patient trusts you, and values your opinion. By creating a comfortable environment for the patient, you are encouraging them to come to you with all their problems. 

5. Attention to Detail 

A critical part of the dental hygienist’s role is performing complex procedures on patients. These include professional dental cleaning, polishing, and eliminating plaque and tartar buildup. This requires attentive eyes and a keen interest in detecting the early onset of cavities or gum inflammation to protect your patient from unnecessary pain and discomfort.

Each individual has a unique set of teeth. Each tooth has different characteristics. Listening to the patient is important because they are the authority on their pain, but sometimes it is the second or third look, that helps you diagnose your patient correctly. A Dental hygienist puts their patients’ well-being first, and this is reflected in all their practices.


A dental hygienist’s role is to provide essential preoral care, educate your patients regarding oral health, and prescribe treatments and procedures where necessary. As a dental professional, education and experience play an important role, but certain soft skills will come in handy in practical settings as they equip you for patient interactions, the professional environment, and the ever-changing landscape of the industry. 

So, do you think you have got what it takes to be a dental hygienist? We thought so! If you are ready to take your career to the next level, we have got something for you. Mayday provides expansive staffing solutions for dental clinics in Los Angeles, and it does so by connecting skilled professionals like yourself to clinics that offer amazing opportunities.