Human Resources

Registered Dental Hygienist Job Description

The prevalence of gum disease puts the Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) in a unique position to provide patients with an essential health service. The hygienist assists the dentist in providing oral health to patients based on their individual needs. Relationship-building and patient education, combined with technical skills, provide a comfortable and informative appointment to contribute to long-term patient relationships.


Registered Dental Hygienist Qualifications

To perform this job successfully, the RDH must be able to perform each essential duty. Keeps informed and updated on OSHA regulations. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. (If additional qualifications are needed, enter them here on a copy of the job descriptions).


Education and Experience

Completion of an accredited dental hygiene program resulting in the issuance of a state dental hygiene license

The position requires _____ years of experience in the dental profession

Current certification to administer CPR and first aid


Certificates, Licenses, and Registrations

Valid X-ray certificate, currents RDH license, to include expanded functions, CPR certificate.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

(Edit list as necessary)


Patient Treatment

    • Familiarize yourself with restorative treatment the practice provides
    • Greet and seat patients
    • Expose digital films
    • Take IOC photos
    • Evaluate gingival health and health of all oral tissue
    • Perform an oral cancer exam
    • Take and record blood pressure
    • Administer nitrous oxide and oxygen
    • Classify patient’s periodontal condition
    • Scale, polish and apply fluoride
    • Periodontal soft tissue curettage
    • Root planning and use of ultrasonic instrumentation
    • Adjunctive therapy, as indicated
    • Periodontal probing and charting of oral conditions
    • Recommend periodontal consultation; refer out to specialists per practice protocols
    • Application of pit and fissure sealants
    • Administration of nitrous oxide and local anesthetic
    • Polish and contour restorations
    • Polish appliances (partials, dentures, etc.)
    • Take impressions for diagnostic and opposing models
    • Application of non-aerosol and non-caustic topical agents
    • Removal of post-extraction and periodontal dressings
    • Removal of sutures and ligature ties
    • Remove cement excess from subgingival surfaces of the tooth

Patient Education

    • Explain the disease process and the role of bacteria in caries and periodontal health
    • Provide appropriate educational literature
    • Provide instruction on home care
    • Recommend intraoral aids
    • Evaluate hygiene booklets for patient distribution
    • Explain prevention to patients and parents of small children
    • Reflect and reinforce the doctor’s philosophy

Recording Patient Information

    • Update medical history and screen for potential problems at each patient visit
    • Periodontal charting
    • Schedule, post daily charges, and chart
    • Chart lesions, existing restorations, and missing teeth
    • Classify periodontal conditions and occlusal relations
    • Counsel patients to enroll them in perio and restorative treatment
    • Transition information to the doctor regarding the patient’s conditions and concerns during recare exams utilizing a co-diagnosis approach
    • Assist doctor during clinical exam and record findings and recommendations
    • Communicate to the front office regarding the length of time needed for patients’ next appointment or recare visit
    • Update any changes to hygiene interval recommended

General Duties

    • Adhere to enhanced infection control protocols and PPE requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19
    • Turn on equipment in the morning and off at night
    • Set up treatment rooms for each patient
    • Seat and dismiss hygiene patients
    • Manage supplies, instruments, and the state of treatment rooms
    • Disinfect as required by OSHA regulations
    • Maintain the cleanliness of the hygiene room and the functions of the equipment
    • Sharpen instruments
    • Restock hygiene room
    • Offer assistance to the front office during downtime to include calling on overdue recare patients
    • Help clinical assistant, if needed
    • Assistant and support the doctor in the clinical treatment of patients

(If additional skills are needed, enter them here on a copy of this job description.)

Work Environment

The work environment characteristics described here represent those employees encounter while performing the essential functions of this job:

    • Occasional exposure to toxic and caustic chemicals and risk of radiation
    • Noise level is usually moderate
    • Work and general environment can become somewhat hectic at times since everyone with the practice works on a time schedule governed by patient appointments
    • Essential that the employee can, both physically and emotionally, effectively handle the anxieties associated with the job


(Edit list as necessary)

    • Can “get along” well with fellow employees and treat all with respect and courtesy
    • Can work well in teams of co-workers
    • Can accept constructive criticism
    • Has a desire and ability to work well with the public
    • Is organized, motivated, committed, and self-directed
    • Has a positive attitude about the practice, the services provided, and the products sold
    • Ability to communicate – express thoughts and ideas competently
    • Increases knowledge and skills through self-study and by attending courses and seminars
    • Able to understand relevant concepts regarding duties and responsibilities
    • Maintains a professional demeanor in stressful situations
    • Ability to complete tasks within a specific time frame
    • Considers patients comfort a priority
    • Has dependable job attendance and can be relied on to follow through with assigned tasks


Decide on the treatment needed for the present appointment and record treatment information in the patient file. Enter the type of treatment planned and the amount of chair time, doctor time, and assistant time needed. Dismiss patients.


Physical Requirements

(Americans with Disability Act)

The physical demands described here represent those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Do detailed work using arms, hands, and fingers to handle and feel object worked with
  • Intermittently is required to sit, stand, walk, stoop, bend, and reach throughout the day
  • Good eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity is needed
  • Specific vision abilities include close vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus
  • Must be physically able to administer CPR
  • May have to physically assist drowsy patients after anesthesia
  • May have to lift up to 25 pounds


Please refer to the Essential Duties and Responsibilities section. Then make a mark or highlight each of the Registered Dental Hygienist duties you consider essential (most important).


Employers may assign additional or different duties at their discretion.


Download the Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) job description as a working file.


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