Careers in Dental Hygiene/Therapy
Dental hygienist


Dental hygiene/Therapy is the care of people's teeth and gums, in order to prevent tooth decay, the need for fillings, gum disease and other problems that can arise from poor oral health. To become a qualified Dental Hygienist you will need to complete a BSc. (Hons) degree in Dental Hygiene/Therapy and register with the General Dental Council (GDC). 


What are the university entry requirements for Dental Hygiene degrees?

To apply to universities for a Dental Hygiene/Therapy degree, you should have, or be working towards achieving, a relevant Access to HE Diploma in Health Science  or 3 A Levels with at least one in a pure science area (Biology, Human Biology, Physics, Chemistry). Applicants will also need to have  experience of working within the field of Dental Care. Universities can advise on their particular entry requirements and they publish these on the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website.

With the A Level route, you may also be expected to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs. With the Access to Dental Hygiene route, you are normally only required to have 2 GCSEs in English and Maths at Grade C or above. Our online Access Dental Hygienist course is aimed towards adults 18+ returning to education or wishing to change to a new career. There are no upper age limits. The Diploma qualification is viewed as being equivalent to 3 A Levels. Access to Higher Education can be studied from home via online learning with AOLL.

There are many websites that track university performance in all subject areas. Students are encouraged to research carefully which university has a good track record in the particular degree course they are interested in. It is also worth looking into the department that you are applying to and see what facilities are available, what sort of placements are on offer and the student satisfaction rate for each degree course.


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What do Dental Hygienists do?

Dental Hygienists work with people of all ages in a variety of settings. Most often they work in a General Dental Practice, which can be run by the NHS, be a private practice, or be a mixture of both. Hygienists could also work in hospitals, the armed forces and community dental programs. The day-to-day life of a dental hygienist will involve working with dentists and orthodontists to help deliver full oral health care to the public. The key aspect of their work can be described as ‘prevention rather than cure'. They tailor their care and advice to each individual case, advising on all aspects of oral health. From the 1st May 2018, dental service users are now able to make appointments directly with hygienists, without needing to see a dentist for a referral. This change by the General Dental Council is expected to lead to a rise in the need for graduates in this area. Tasks carried out by dental hygienists can include:

    • Removing plaque and hard (calculus/tartar) deposits
    • Giving diet advice on how to reduce sugary and erosive food and drink
    • Polishing teeth
    • Applying topical fluoride and fissure sealants



What personal attributes are desirable in Dental Hygiene? 

      • Organised and able to work under your own steam as well as a good team worker
      • Dependable and a good communicator
      • Compassionate and an interest in helping others
      • Attention to detail and the ability to maintain relationships with care users
      • A strong interest in education and researching the latest advances in dental health 



What are the pay and working conditions like?

      • Starting salaries typically range from £27,055 and £32,934 (Band 5)
      • With experience, you can earn between £33,706 and £40,588 (band 6)
      • Salaries for high levels of experience, including some managerial roles, could be £45,000+


Work will generally be practice-based and broadly Monday to Friday 9-5pm. However, those working in hospitals and the community may be asked to work some evenings and weekends and potentially work on a shift basis and be ‘on call'. 


Did you know?

      • The ancient Egyptians used frayed twigs to clean their teeth, the first known use of ‘toothbrushes' 
      • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body
      • Adults have 32 teeth, children only have 20
      • If you don't floss you're missing cleaning around 35% of the surface of your teeth
      • The average person will spend almost 40 days brushing their teeth during the course of their lifetime



How is the degree funded?

Studying for a Dental Hygiene degree allows you to apply for the standard student support package in the form of a student loan. Scholarships, bursaries or grants may also be available for example, through the university or your place of work. 

If you would like to complete an Access to HE course to obtain the qualifications for entry onto a Dental Hygiene degree course at university, please choose your payment options below, then complete the enrolment form or contact us for more information. Studying and achieving this qualification with Academy Online learning provides a flexible way of achieving, as it is fully online and recognised and accepted by UK universities. 


Find out more about our Access to Dental Hygiene/Therapy Course


Payment Options

The cost of the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Professions) is £1236, and can be paid in monthly instalments from £103 per month over 12 months with 0% interest. Or discounted price at £1186 (£50 saving) when paid in full upfront.

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* Includes £135 registration fee and certification with our awarding organisation, Skills and Education Access Group

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