If you are to have a thriving career as a dental hygienist, you need to have several hard and soft skills. Note that even when you are not a natural in a certain skill, you can always work on it. These skills include:

Must-Have Hard Skills

Job skills: You need skills specific to the job such as conducting initial dental assessments and reporting the findings, taking and developing x-rays, removing plaque, stains, and tartar from teeth, educating patients on good oral health techniques like how to floss and brush properly and applying fluorides and sealants.

Visual requirements: You should see the patient’s teeth clearly from at least 20-inches away. You should have good hand-eye coordination for fine motor control. Your eyes should visually differentiate the colors of the spectrum to identify changes in tissue conditions. You must also be able to discern subtle radiographic density changes.

Motor skills: You need fine and gross motor skills for effective and safe patient care. Your hands and fingers need adequate sensory perception to allow for easy detection and removal of tooth deposits. You need enough tactile ability to allow for use of small instruments with sufficient control. You also need full manual dexterity (the function of both arms, wrists, and hands and all the fingers).

Endurance & physical strength: You need sufficient physical strength to move around, whether by yourself or by a walker, crutches, or cane). You also need enough physical strength to assist patients to transfer themselves to and from dental chairs, to perform tasks for several hours while standing, sitting, or moving, and to perform CPR.

Auditory requirements: Percussion and auscultation and percussion skills are a must, as is correctable hearing in at least 1 of your ears.

Must-Have Soft Skills

Communication skills: You need the ability to effectively interact with others in English and/or French, the National Languages in Canada. You also need the abilities to accurately transfer data you have gathered into the patient’s record, to read and understand professional and technical material, and to demonstrate respect, sensitivity, and confidentiality when speaking with patients, faculty, staff, and peers.

Conceptual, intellectual & cognitive skills: To succeed as a dental hygienist, you must be able to distinguish between normal and abnormal. You need sufficient problem comprehension, analysis, evaluation, and solving skills. You must also be able to work independently, to think critically, and to comprehend 3-dimensional relationships.

Professional demeanor & attitude: If the dental clinic is to thrive, you must be able to present a professional appearance. You must demonstrate physical, emotional, and mental health, flexibility, and adaptability. Patients must see you as being honest, ethical, and accountable. Ontario has a diverse populace – you must demonstrate respect for people from different religious, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds.

Comprehension skills: You will learn a lot in your CDAC-accredited dental hygiene program and at work. You, therefore, need sufficient comprehension skills and the ability to translate what you learn into action.

Time management skills: Dental hygienist schedules are usually very tight and they need you to prioritize, plan ahead, and be flexible in terms of working hours.

Toronto School of Dental Hygiene

A good Toronto school of dental hygiene goes a long way in helping you develop your skills, especially your soft skills. Both hard and soft skills can be perfected with practice.