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Frenquently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions for Dental Hygienists

 

Courses (Click Here)

Training (Click Here)

Salaries (Click Here)

Schools (Click Here)

 

Courses

Dental hygienists (sometimes also known as oral health practitioners) are dental care professionals and work as part of the dental team.

The job

While dentists concentrate on treating tooth and gum conditions, the dental hygienist has a vital role in helping to prevent problems from arising.

As a dental hygienist you would carry out procedures such as scaling and polishing teeth, and applying topical fluoride and fissure sealants. If you are based in a hospital , you would also help patients who are having surgery or complicated orthodontic treatment or those with particular medical conditions to maintain a healthy mouth.

Dental hygienists work in hospitals and in community dental services, but most frequently in general dental practice.

The entry requirements

Five GCSE subjects graded A - C or equivalent, plus two A levels or a recognised dental nursing qualification.

The courses

To practice as a dental hygienist you need to have undertaken an appropriate course approved by the General Dental Council. This will allow you to register with the General Dental Council, which is a mandatory requirement.

The course is usually two years (or up to 27 months) long on a full-time basis and is offered by dental schools and also the Defence Dental Services Training Establishment. Subjects studied include anatomy and physiology, preventive dentistry, dental health education, dental pathology and the management and care of patients. Several dental schools offer courses combining dental hygiene and dental therapy.

Financial support for students on dental hygiene courses

For information about financial support whilst taking a degree course in dental hygiene, please click here

Career prospects

Experienced dental hygienists can progress to become practice managers or teach on training courses. There are also opportunities to work as orthodontic therapists.

Registration

It is a requirement that all dental hygienists be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). You can contact the GDC at:

General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street
London
W1G 8DQ

Telephone: 020 7887 3800
Fax: 020 7224 3294
Email:
CAIT@gdc-uk.org
Website: http://www.gdc-uk.org/

Further information

For further information about a career as a dental hygienist, contact:

British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy
3 Kestrel Court
Waterwells Business Park
Waterwells Drive
Quedgley
Gloucester
GL2 2AT

Tel: 01452 886365
Fax: 01452 886468
Email:
enquiries@bsdht.org.uk
Website: http://www.bsdht.org.uk/index.html

or

The British Dental Association
64 Wimpole Street
London
W1M 8DQ
Tel: 020 7935 875

 

Training

As a registered dental professional, you have a duty to keep up to date with your skills and knowledge in order to give patients the best possible treatment and care. CPD is compulsory, but ideally it should simply set out a formal framework for what you are already doing. Here’s what that means in practice, in five straightforward steps:

  • Step 1 - Make sure you know your compulsory CPD start date

  • Step 2 - Make sure you understand how many hours of CPD you’re required to do

  • Step 3 - Plan your CPD activities to meet the requirement

  • Step 4 - Record your CPD

  • Step 5 – Every year, fill in a statement of the CPD hours you’ve completed,

 

Salaries

Dental hygienists work closely with dentists to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Their clinical role includes scaling and polishing teeth, together with applying antibacterial agents, coatings and sealants. They also teach people how to care for their teeth, gums and mouths. With further training they may administer local anaesthetic (in some cases under the supervision of a registered dentist), give temporary fillings and replace crowns with temporary cement in an emergency, take radiographs and take impressions of the teeth and gums for crowns, bridges and dentures. They use a range of dental instruments and may be assisted by a dental nurse.

In hospitals, a dental hygienist might help patients who are having surgery, complicated orthodontic treatment, or who are suffering from particular medical conditions, to keep their mouth healthy.


Entry level
You must be at least 18 before you can start training. To qualify as a dental hygienist, you must complete a two-year, full-time Diploma in Dental Hygiene or a combined Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy, awarded by Schools of Dental Hygiene/Hygiene and Therapy or by the Royal College of Surgeons. Manchester University offers a three-year, full-time degree in Oral Health Science, which is also accepted for registration. There are also opportunities to train in the armed forces.

To gain admission, you would normally need two A levels/AH/H grades, or a nationally-recognised dental nursing qualification, or other equivalent qualifications, together with at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent, including English and a science subject.

Making the grade
All dental hygienists must register with the General Dental Council before they can practise, for which the essential qualification is the Diploma mentioned above. Subjects studied on the diploma course include anatomy and physiology, pathology, dental histology, orthodontics, pharmacology, treatment of periodontal disease, prevention of oral disease, oral medicine, diet and nutrition, oral health promotion and theories and practice of teaching. Practical skills are taught throughout the course, starting with practice on artificial teeth and progressing to treating patients.

After registration, you would be expected to keep your skills and knowledge up to date through continuing professional development. Some training schools offer post-qualification update courses for dental hygienists who want to return to work or increase their range of skills.

The University of Liverpool offers a two-year, part-time course for qualified hygienists to become therapists, although increasingly initial courses combine both disciplines.


Personal qualities
Bearing in mind that some patients are extremely nervous of dental treatment, and that you would be dealing with people ranging from very young children to the elderly, you should have a friendly, calm and reassuring manner. Excellent communication and team-working skills are essential, together with good eyesight and the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. You should be good at science, particularly biology, with a high level of manual dexterity.

Looking ahead
There are currently over 3,900 dental hygienists in the UK. Most work in dental practices, while others work in the Community Dental Service, which gives dental treatment to people who can not easily go to general practices, including elderly people, people with physical or mental disabilities and children in schools or with special needs. There are also opportunities in hospitals, industry, dental schools and the armed forces.

With most employers there is no formal career progression, although the armed forces offer a very structured career path. Some dental hygienists go on to become practice managers, while others may become self-employed, visiting several different dental practices to work with patients.


Alternative suggestions
If your main interest is in helping people care for their teeth, you might also consider training as a dental nurse, dental technician, dental therapist or dentist.

Take-home pay
There is no fixed salary for dental hygienists, although the British Dental Hygienists' Association publishes guidelines for hourly rates. In a general dental practice, you would have to negotiate your own salary arrangements with your employer. Rates normally depend on such factors as the location of the practice, whether it offers mainly National Health Service or private treatment, the amount of time you spend on each appointment and the type of treatment you give.

As a newly qualified, self-employed dental hygienist in an NHS practice, you could earn around £20,000. This should rise after five years to around £29,000, maybe more in a private practice. The NHS rates for hygienists in hospitals and the Community Dental Service vary according to regional policy.

In private/independant practice you can look to earn between £36 and £42 pounds an hour. Dental Hygienists are becoming more and more sought out for by smaller independent practices to see patients on a private basis.

Effects
You would generally work a seven or eight-hour day in a warm, bright, well lit and clean dental surgery, but you may sometimes be expected to work evenings and Saturday mornings. Part-time work may be available. Working for the Community Dental Service can mean travelling to see patients in schools, community centres, residential homes or in their own homes. You might also work in a mobile clinic.

You would normally wear a white coat or tunic and surgical gloves, plus a face mask and eye protection for certain procedures.


Sources of information
British Dental Association: www.bda-dentistry.org.uk
NHS Careers: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

British Dental Association, Armed Forces Group: www.bda-dentistry.org.uk/advice/docs/armedforces.doc
British Dental Hygienists' Association: www.bdha.org.uk
Dental Education Resources on the Web: http://www.derweb.co.uk/
General Dental Council: www.gdc-uk.org

 

Schools

Birmingham Dental School

BSc in Hygiene and Therapy

www.dentistry.bham.ac.uk

Full time 3 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
Not known

Enquiries phone
0121 414 3344


Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT

 

 

Bristol, University of

Diploma in Dental Therapy

www.dentalschool.bris.ac.uk/

Part time 2 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
Donna.parkin@ubht.nhs.uk

Enquiries phone
0117 928 4132 / 4411


Bristol Dental School, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol, BS1 2LY

 

 

Bristol, University of

Diploma in Dental Hygiene

www.dentalschool.bris.ac.uk/

Full time 2 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
Donna.parkin@ubht.nhs.uk

Enquiries phone
0117 928 4132 / 4411


Bristol Dental School - Lower Maudlin Street - Bristol - BS1 2LY

 


Cardiff, University of

HE Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

www.cardiff.ac.uk

Full time 2.5 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
DentalAdmissions@cardiff.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
029 20744251


University Dental Hospital, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF4 4XY

 

 

Cardiff, University of

Diploma in Dental Hygiene

www.cardiff.ac.uk

Full time 2 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
DentalAdmissions@cardiff.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
029 20744251


University Dental Hospital Cardiff - University of Wales Dental School, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF4 4XY

 

 

Colchester, University of Essex

Foundation Degree in Oral Health Sciences

www.essex.ac.uk/southend/school/health/FDOHS.htm

Full time 2 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
kebell@essex.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
01702 328360


Karen Bell, Department of Health and Human Sciences, Southend Campus, Elmer Approach, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1LW

 


Dundee, University of

BSc Oral Health Science

www.dundee.ac.uk/dentalschool

Full time 3 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
srs@dundee.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
01382 344697


Unit of Health Sciences, Dental School, Dundee Dental Hospital2,  Park Place, Dundee, DD1 4HR

 


Inverness College, University of the Highlands and Islands

BSc Oral Health Science

Full time 3 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
info@inverness.uhi.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
01463 273000


Midmills Campus, Crown Avenue, Inverness, IV2 3NG

 

 

Leeds, University of

Graduate Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

www.leeds.ac.uk/dental

Full time 2.5 years Postgraduate diploma

Enquiries email
caroline.logan@leedsth.nhs.uk

Enquiries phone
0113 3436243


Level 5, School of Dentistry, Leeds, LS2 9LU

 

 

Liverpool, University of

Combined Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

www.liv.ac.uk/dental

Full time 3 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
Unknown

Enquiries phone
0151 706 5039


School of dental Hygiene, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5PS

 

 

London, Eastman Dental Hospital

Diploma in Dental Therapy

Full time Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
soht@uclh.nhs.uk

Enquiries phone
02079151205


256 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8LD

 

 

London, Eastman Dental Hospital

Diploma in Dental Hygiene

Full time 2 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
soht@uclh.nhs.uk

Enquiries phone
02079151205


Eastman Dental Hospital, 256 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8LD

 

 

London, St Bart's And The Royal London School Of Medicine And Dentistry

Combined Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

www.mds.qmw.ac.uk

Full time 2.5 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
Not known

Enquiries phone
020 7377 7000


Turner Street, London, E1 2AD

 

 

Manchester, University of (The Turner Dental School)

BSc Oral Health Science

www.den.man.ac.uk

Full time 3 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
ug.dentistry@manchester.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
0161 - 275 6666


Higher Cambridge Street, Manchester, M15 6FH

 

 

Portsmouth, University of

BSc (Hons) Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene

www.port.ac.uk/teeth

Full time 3 years Undergraduate degree

Enquiries email
sci.admissions@port.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
02392 843946


Portsmouth School Of Professions, Complimentary to Dentistry, William Beatty Building, Hampshire Terrace, Portsmouth, PO1 2QC

 

 

Salford, Greater Manchester School For Professions Complementary to Dentistry

Combined Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

www.mandcp.co.uk

Full time 2 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
enquiries@mandcp.co.uk

Enquiries phone
0161 212 4809


4th Floor, St James House, Pendleton WaySalford, Manchester, M6 5FW

 


Sheffield, University of

Diploma of Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

Full time 3 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email
hygieneandtherapy.admissions@sheffield.ac.uk

Enquiries phone
0114 271 7800


Sheffield School of Clinical Dentistry, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Wellesley Road, Sheffield, S10 2SZ

 


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