Searching for how to become a dental hygienist in UK? Then this article is for you. Dental hygienists work directly with dentists to help patients take care of and maintain their oral health.
If you want to become a dental hygienist in the UK, you might find it helpful to look at what they do and what they need to do to become one.
This will help you decide if it’s the right job for you. In this article, we’ll talk about what dental hygienists do, where they work, and how to become one.
We also answer questions about what it’s like to be a dental hygienist that come up often.
What Does a Dental Hygienist Do in UK?
A dental hygienist is a health care worker who works under the supervision of a dentist and specializes in oral health.
Dentist hygienists, who are more often called “dental hygienists,” focus on preventive oral health care by cleaning patients’ teeth, checking their gums, getting their medical history, and talking to them about how they can improve their oral health.
They also do simple dental work like removing plaque, tartar, or everyday stains and flossing well. Some of the specific things a dental hygienist has to do are:
- Dental instruments are used to clean teeth.
- Checking for swelling in a patient’s lymph nodes and looking for signs of oral cancer.
- Reviewing the medical history of a patient and keeping good records.
- probing the gums and looking for signs of periodontal disease.
- Writing down the signs of oral disease so the dentist can look at them and make a diagnosis.
- Getting X-rays of people.
- Cleaning, sterilizing, and putting away dental tools.
- Talking to patients about preventive dental care can help improve their oral health.
- Using fluorides, fissure-sealing agents, and other things that stop tooth decay on patients.
- Working together with the dentist and dental assistant to give patients the best experience possible.
- Creating and maintaining programs for patients to take care of their teeth.
- Scaling is the process of removing bacteria from the teeth at the gum line.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist in UK
Read these three steps if you want to know how to become a dental hygienist in the UK:
- Complete Entry-Level Requirements
- Earn a Diploma or Degree
- Register With the GDC
1. Complete Entry-Level Requirements
Finish the basic requirements for getting into college. Most courses to become a dental hygienist in the UK require you to have five GCSEs, including maths and English, with grades of 4-7 or A-C.
You probably also need two or three A levels, including one in either biology or human biology.
In some cases, a nationally recognized dental nursing qualification can take the place of one of the A levels.
Keep in mind that the exact requirements for getting into a university vary from one to the next.
2. Earn a Diploma or Degree
Get a degree or diploma in dental hygiene, dental hygiene, and therapy, or oral health science.
You have to take a course approved by the General Dental Council before you can become a dental hygienist (GDC).
Those who want to become dental hygienists have four choices for their training:
- A foundation degree in oral health science that lasts for two years.
- A degree in dental hygiene, oral health science, or dental hygiene and therapy that took three or four years to complete.
- A 27-month dental hygiene and therapy degree from a college.
- A two-year degree from a college or university in dental hygiene.
Choose the course that fits your needs and professional goals the best. All of these programs teach things like dental anatomy, health education, and pathology that are important for becoming a dental hygienist.
3. Register With the GDC
Register with the GDC. Before a dental office or another place of work can hire you, you have to sign up with the GDC.
For the GDC registry, you will need a document that proves who you are, a character reference, and a passport photo.
Skills of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists need to have a wide range of skills to do their jobs well.
Having seen how to become a dental hygienist in UK, let’s look at skills for dental hygienists.
To properly care for a patient, you need to talk to them and tell them what you’re doing at each step of a dental procedure.
Dental hygienists also need to be able to talk to dentists, dental technologists, and other dental professionals in a clear and professional way.
2. Manual Dexterity
As a dental hygienist, you may use a lot of sharp tools. Dental hygienists should be careful with these tools and move their hands in many small ways to avoid getting hurt.
Many people get nervous when they have to go to the dentist.
A dental hygienist should treat patients with kindness and care to make sure the procedure goes well.
4. Attention to Detail
In order to practice good dental hygiene, you often have to pay attention to small details about a patient’s teeth and gums.
You have to be able to pay close attention to each unusual thing so you can write down what you find and show it to the dentist so he or she can figure out what’s wrong.
5. Motivational Skills
Dental hygienists tell their patients to take care of their teeth every day.
You can get your patients to keep their teeth clean by telling them how good it is for their health or by helping them set goals for brushing and flossing regularly.
Dental hygienists often work with dental assistants, dentists, dental nurses, and other people who work in the dental field.
A dental hygienist needs to be able to work well with others to make sure that their patients get the best dental care possible.
7. Good eyesight
Dental hygienists need to be able to see what’s going on inside the mouths of their patients.
A dental hygienist needs to have good eyesight, with or without glasses or contacts.
For some dental procedures, dental hygienists have to focus for a long time. A good dental hygienist can stay focused on what they are doing.
9. Record-keeping abilities
Dental hygienists often help their patients make, update, or keep track of their dental records.
A dental hygienist needs to make sure that these records are always correct and up-to-date.
Dental Hygienist UK Salary
The average salary for a dental hygienist in the UK is £51,271 per year.
Dental hygienists’ salaries vary based on a number of factors, such as their years of experience, the company they work for, and where they live. Let’s look at their salaries at different levels.
Here are the salary ranges:
- Junior (ages 0–3): £45,000
- Four to nine years into a job: £68,000
- Ten to twenty years of experience – £110,000
- 20 years or more of work: £142,000
Different Apprenticeships Available in the Dental/Dentist Industry
Let’s consider different apprenticeships in the dental industry:
- Dental Nurse Apprenticeships
- Dental Hygienist Apprenticeship
- Dental Technician Apprenticeship
1. Dental Nurse Apprenticeships
A degree in dentistry can take up to five years, but a Level 3 Integrated Dental Nurse apprenticeship only takes about 18 months to finish.
This course is one of the “Health and Science” apprenticeships, and the government can pay for up to £6,000 of it.
The job is called “chair-side support,” and responsibilities include taking care of patients and talking to them, following best practices, keeping records on patients, and getting equipment and materials ready.
You will also be taught how to spot and handle medical emergencies and give advice about oral health.
You will need A-Levels in math, English, or British Sign Language (BSL) if BSL is your first language.
As with any apprenticeship, you will earn while you learn. As a trainee dental nurse, you can expect to make an average of £16,000 a year.
Once you are qualified, this usually goes up to a starting salary of around £20,000.
For many, it’s an appealing and quick way to get a good job. There is a good starting salary, most office hours are regular, and there is the chance to move up in the company.
Many dental nurses are also dental receptionists. You can work your way up to Practice Manager once you have your license.
Your job would be to run the office on a day-to-day basis. You can work as a dentist in the NHS, in private practice, in community practice, or even for the military health services.
2. Dental Hygienist Apprenticeship
At the time this was written, there was no direct apprenticeship for dental hygienists.
But there is an apprenticeship for a Level 4 Oral Health Practitioner. This is the next step after dental nursing to becoming a dental hygienist.
To apply, you must already be a registered dental nurse with the General Dental Council.
To become a dental nurse, you also need the same English/BSL and maths A-Levels as above, but you should already have them.
Some of the things you have to do are set up more clinical equipment, check people’s mouths and remove plaque for testing, take clinical photos, and teach people of all ages how to clean their teeth properly.
Oral Health Practitioners will also be taught how to do general health checks, like taking blood pressure and testing for diabetes with a finger prick.
Most apprenticeships last between 14 and 18 months, and after three years, they are looked at again.
With this extra qualification, your salary should go up, but it won’t be as high as a dental hygienist’s.
That might happen after your review after three years. With experience and more training, you can become a dental hygienist in the Royal Navy, teach dental hygiene students, work in orthodontics, or promote health.
3. Dental Technician Apprenticeship
Not everyone who wants to be a dentist wants to work with patients. Most dental technicians work in labs where they design and make custom dental tools and appliances.
About 36 months are spent on the Level 5 Dental Technical Apprenticeship (Integrated). At the end, you will have a Level 5 Foundation Degree in Science in Dental Technology.
Employers may have different requirements, but most will want you to have three A-Levels, with a grade of C or higher in math and English or BSL. Level 3 qualifications that are relevant will also be taken into account.
The job is a mix of art and science, and it requires minute attention to detail, manual dexterity, and knowledge of the mouth and teeth from a forensic point of view.
You will also learn how custom-made products can make devices more useful and stop them from getting worse, as well as the best materials and methods to use for each device.
The course gives you a broad look at the techniques needed for the key areas, like crowns and bridges, orthodontics, and dentures, so that once you choose a specialty, you have a lot of options. Most labs will only focus on one or two of these.
What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There for Dental Hygienists?
If dental hygienist wants to move up in their field, they might want to learn how to do things like whiten teeth or put people to sleep.
If you’ve been a dental hygienist for a while, you might want to take on more leadership roles, like helping to train new dental hygienists. A dental hygienist might also want to switch to a different job, such as:
1. Dental Practice Manager
Dental practice managers are in charge of the business side of a general dentist’s office.
Their jobs include managing their staff, setting up appointments, and taking care of payments and insurance claims from clients.
2. Orthodontic Therapist
Orthodontic therapists work closely with dentists and orthodontic specialists. Also, Orthodontic therapists help people straighten their teeth without hurting them.
For example, they put on braces or retainers, adjust brackets, and take dental impressions.
Dentists take care of all aspects of their patient’s oral health.
A dental hygienist who wants to become a dentist must first go to dental school and work under supervision for about two years.
Dental Hygienist Entry Requirement
The following are the dental hygienist entry requirement:
The School of Medical Sciences needs proof that you have studied a lot of different things.
You’ll need three A-levels and something else you’ve studied or done.
This study or activity could be a fourth AS-level, A-level General Studies, Extended Project Qualification, National Citizenship Award, or you may have finished a specific widening access program.
2. Unit Grade Information
The University of Manchester is happy to get information about unit grades, which, along with all other available information, will be used to decide whether or not to accept an application.
Most of the time, unit grades won’t be part of the offer conditions, except for Math programs.
We need at least five grade C GCSEs (4). You need at least a C in English Language, Maths, and either two sciences, Dual Award Science, or Core and Additional Science. We allow GCSE retakes.
If you are retaking any GCSEs at the time you fill out your UCAS form, you must list it as a “pending qualification.”
We do not accept short courses at this time, but we do accept Level 2 BTEC qualifications (with a distinction grade or higher) in place of one GCSE.
If you have an international equivalent to GCSE that is not listed on our international entry requirements page, please contact the School of Medical Sciences Admissions Department to see if the qualification is acceptable.
Can I Become a Dental Hygienist Without Going to University?
Dental hygienists need an associate’s degree and a license from the state.
If you want to move up in your career, you might want to think about getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene.
Can Foreign Dentists Work as Hygienists in the UK?
At the moment, dentists who were trained outside of the EEA can work as dental therapists and hygienists in the UK.
There is no need to test their ability to diagnose and treat dental disease in real life.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?
Depending on how much education you get in the field, it usually takes between two and four years to become a dental hygienist.
To work as a dental hygienist, you will need a license from both your state and the American Dental Association.