Dental hygienists play a critical role in oral health care. They work with patients to clean teeth, examine teeth and gums for signs of disease, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on how to properly care for their teeth and gums.
If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, you’ll need to go through a job interview. During the interview, you’ll be asked questions about your experience, your education, and your knowledge of dental hygiene. You’ll also be asked questions about your ability to work with patients and your communication skills.
To help you prepare for your job interview, we’ve put together a list of common dental hygienist interview questions and answers.
Common Dental Hygienist Interview Questions
- Are you comfortable working with patients who have a wide range of dental issues?
- What are some of the most important skills for a dental hygienist to have?
- How would you describe the relationship between a dentist and a dental hygienist?
- What is your experience with providing dental care to children?
- Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient.
- If a patient has a specific concern about a certain issue, how would you address it?
- What would you do if you noticed a colleague making a mistake while working with a patient?
- How well do you handle stress while working?
- Do you have any questions for me about the position?
- When performing dental hygiene procedures, do you prefer to work alone or with a colleague?
- We want to ensure our patients feel comfortable and at ease during their appointments. How would you go about doing that?
- Describe your experience with using dental technology.
- What makes you an ideal candidate for this position?
- Which dental hygiene associations are you a member of?
- What do you think is the most important aspect of oral health?
- How often do you recommend patients come in for routine cleanings?
- There is a new treatment for tooth decay that is not widely available yet. A patient wants to know if you would recommend it for them. How do you respond?
- Describe a time when you had to educate a patient on proper oral hygiene practices.
- How do you ensure that all dental instruments are properly sterilized?
- Explain the process of taking and developing X-rays.
- What is your experience with local anesthesia administration?
- Have you ever been involved in any research projects related to dentistry or dental hygiene?
- Are there any procedures that you have not yet mastered but would like to learn more about?
- Do you have any experience working with special needs patients?
- What methods do you use to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in dentistry and dental hygiene?
1. Are you comfortable working with patients who have a wide range of dental issues?
This question can help interviewers understand if you have the experience and skills to work with patients who may need more attention than others. Use your answer to highlight how you’ve worked with a variety of patients in the past, including those with special needs or unique circumstances.
Example: “Absolutely. I have worked with a wide variety of patients throughout my career, and I am comfortable working with those who have a range of dental issues. I understand that each patient is unique and requires a tailored approach to their care. I take the time to get to know each patient’s individual needs and develop a personalized plan for them. In addition, I stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and technologies in dentistry so that I can provide the best possible care to all of my patients. My goal is always to ensure that each patient feels safe and secure while receiving treatment.”
2. What are some of the most important skills for a dental hygienist to have?
This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in their dental office. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to the job.
Example: “As a dental hygienist, I believe the most important skills are communication and patient care. Communication is essential in order to effectively educate patients on proper oral hygiene techniques and build trusting relationships with them. It’s also important for me to be able to clearly explain procedures, answer questions, and provide reassurance when needed.
In addition, providing excellent patient care is of utmost importance. As a dental hygienist, it’s my responsibility to ensure that each patient receives quality care while in my chair. This includes being knowledgeable about the latest treatments and technologies, as well as having strong clinical skills such as taking x-rays, performing cleanings, and applying sealants. Finally, I strive to create a comfortable, welcoming environment for all patients so they feel at ease during their visit.”
3. How would you describe the relationship between a dentist and a dental hygienist?
This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you understand the importance of working with a dentist and how to communicate effectively. Your answer should include examples of how you have worked well with dentists in the past.
Example: “The relationship between a dentist and dental hygienist is an important one. As a Dental Hygienist, I understand that it’s my job to provide the best possible care for patients while also supporting the dentist in their role. The dentist relies on me to help them diagnose issues, educate patients on oral hygiene, and perform preventive treatments. In turn, I rely on the dentist to provide guidance and direction when needed.”
4. What is your experience with providing dental care to children?
Employers may ask this question to learn about your experience working with children. They want to know if you have any special techniques or skills that help you work with kids. If you do, share them with the employer so they can see how valuable you would be in their office.
Example: “I have extensive experience providing dental care to children. I have been a Dental Hygienist for the past five years and during this time, I have worked with many pediatric patients. I am comfortable working with children of all ages and understand how to make them feel at ease in the dental chair.
I take great pride in educating my young patients on proper oral hygiene techniques and helping them develop good habits that will last into adulthood. During my appointments, I always strive to create a positive atmosphere by using age-appropriate language and making sure they are comfortable throughout their visit.”
5. Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient.
Interviewers ask this question to see how you handle challenging situations. They want to know that you can remain calm and professional in these types of interactions. In your answer, try to focus on the steps you took to resolve the situation.
Example: “I recently had a patient who was very anxious about their dental hygiene appointment. They were nervous and scared, which made it difficult to get them to cooperate with the procedure. I took extra time to explain each step of the process in detail, reassuring them that they would be safe and comfortable throughout the entire visit. I also offered them some calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises to help ease their nerves. In the end, my patience and understanding allowed me to successfully complete the procedure without any issues. This experience taught me the importance of being compassionate and understanding when dealing with anxious patients.”
6. If a patient has a specific concern about a certain issue, how would you address it?
This question can help the interviewer determine how you interact with patients and their concerns. It’s important to show that you’re willing to take the time to listen to your patients’ needs and provide them with information or resources they may need.
Example: “When a patient has a specific concern about an issue, I take the time to listen and understand their concerns. I believe it is important to make sure that all of my patients feel heard and respected when they come into the office. After listening to their concerns, I explain the situation in detail and provide them with information on how we can address their issue. I also discuss any potential risks or benefits associated with the treatment plan so that they can make an informed decision. Finally, I ensure that the patient feels comfortable with the proposed solution before proceeding. This helps build trust between myself and the patient, which is essential for providing quality care.”
7. What would you do if you noticed a colleague making a mistake while working with a patient?
This question can help the interviewer determine how you work with others and your ability to communicate. Your answer should show that you are willing to speak up when necessary, but also that you respect your colleagues’ abilities and intentions.
Example: “If I noticed a colleague making a mistake while working with a patient, my first priority would be to ensure the safety of the patient. I would approach the situation in a professional and non-confrontational manner by asking if they need assistance or guidance. If needed, I could offer suggestions on how to correct the mistake without compromising the quality of care for the patient.
I believe that communication is key when it comes to addressing any issue in the workplace. I would make sure to have an open dialogue with my colleague about what happened and why it should not happen again. I would also take the time to explain the importance of accuracy and precision when providing dental hygiene services.”
8. How well do you handle stress while working?
Working as a dental hygienist can be stressful at times. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the ability to handle stress and remain calm while working. When answering, try to show that you are able to stay calm under pressure. Explain how you manage your emotions when things get tough.
Example: “I understand that working as a Dental Hygienist can be stressful at times. However, I have developed strategies to help me manage stress while on the job. First, I take time to prioritize tasks and plan my day in advance so that I am able to stay organized and focused. This helps me to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks or deadlines. Secondly, I practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day to keep myself calm and relaxed. Finally, I make sure to take breaks when needed to give myself a chance to reset and refocus. By using these techniques, I am able to remain composed and professional even during the most demanding situations.”
9. Do you have any questions for me about the position?
Employers ask this question to see if you have done your research on the company and position. Before your interview, make a list of questions that show you are interested in the job. When an employer asks this question during an interview, answer honestly and try to think of something unique about their practice or how they work with patients.
Example: “Yes, I do have a few questions. First, what is the expected workload for this position? Second, what type of technology and equipment will I be working with? Finally, what kind of continuing education opportunities are available to me as a Dental Hygienist at your practice?
I believe my experience in the field makes me an ideal candidate for this job. My background includes over 10 years of experience as a Dental Hygienist, including providing preventive care, patient education, and periodontal therapy. I am also certified in local anesthesia administration and CPR. I’m confident that I can bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to your practice.”
10. When performing dental hygiene procedures, do you prefer to work alone or with a colleague?
Working as a dental hygienist can be a very rewarding career, but it also requires you to work with patients and other members of the dental team. Employers ask this question to make sure that you are comfortable working in a collaborative environment. In your answer, explain how you would approach this situation if you were hired. Try to highlight any skills or personality traits that might help you get along with others.
Example: “I prefer to work with a colleague when performing dental hygiene procedures. Working as part of a team allows us to collaborate on patient care and share our knowledge and experience. I believe that two heads are better than one, and that working together can lead to more efficient and effective treatment plans for our patients. It also helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of and discuss any issues or concerns that may arise during the procedure. Finally, it’s always nice to have a friendly face in the room to make the patient feel more comfortable.”
11. We want to ensure our patients feel comfortable and at ease during their appointments. How would you go about doing that?
This question is an opportunity to show your interpersonal skills and ability to connect with patients. It’s important for dental hygienists to be able to put their patients at ease, especially if they’re nervous about their appointments. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific example of how you helped a patient feel more comfortable during their appointment.
Example: “Creating a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for my patients is of utmost importance to me. I believe that the best way to do this is by building trust with each patient. To achieve this, I would start by introducing myself and taking the time to get to know them on a personal level. This will help build rapport and allow me to understand their individual needs.
I also think it’s important to explain all procedures in detail so they feel informed and empowered throughout their appointment. Finally, I always strive to be friendly and professional while providing quality care. By doing these things, I am confident that I can create an environment where my patients feel comfortable and at ease.”
12. Describe your experience with using dental technology.
Employers ask this question to learn more about your experience with dental technology and how you use it in your daily work. When answering, consider describing a time when you used new technology or software that helped improve your job performance.
Example: “I have extensive experience using dental technology in my role as a Dental Hygienist. I am proficient in the use of digital radiography, intraoral cameras, and other imaging technologies. I’m also well-versed in electronic patient records systems and software for charting and tracking patient data.
In addition to this, I have experience with laser dentistry and can operate various types of lasers used for soft tissue management and periodontal therapy. I’m comfortable working with both hard and soft tissue lasers and understand the safety protocols associated with their use.”
13. What makes you an ideal candidate for this position?
Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel you would fit in with their team. Before your interview, make a list of reasons why you are the best candidate for the job. Focus on skills that relate to the position’s responsibilities and include any personal qualities that may help you succeed.
Example: “I believe I am an ideal candidate for this position because of my extensive experience and knowledge in the field. I have been a Dental Hygienist for over five years, during which time I have gained a wealth of knowledge about dental hygiene practices and procedures. My commitment to providing excellent patient care is second-to-none; I always strive to ensure that every patient has the best possible experience when they come into the office.
In addition to my technical skills, I also bring strong interpersonal skills to the table. I understand the importance of building relationships with patients and colleagues alike, and I am confident that I can help create a positive atmosphere in the workplace. Finally, I am highly organized and detail-oriented, allowing me to stay on top of all tasks and appointments efficiently.”
14. Which dental hygiene associations are you a member of?
Employers may ask this question to learn more about your commitment to the dental hygiene profession. They want to know that you are actively involved in your community and have a desire to grow as a hygienist. When preparing for an interview, make sure to mention any professional organizations you belong to. If you’re not currently a member of any groups, consider joining one before your next interview.
Example: “I am a proud member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the National Dental Hygiene Association (NDHA). Both organizations provide me with invaluable resources to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in dental hygiene. I also take advantage of their continuing education programs, which allow me to hone my skills and learn new techniques.
In addition, I have been an active participant in local dental hygiene associations, such as the Maryland State Dental Hygienists’ Association. Through these groups, I have had the opportunity to network with other professionals in the field and share best practices. This has allowed me to stay current on industry trends and gain valuable insight into how to better serve my patients.”
15. What do you think is the most important aspect of oral health?
This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of dental health and how you prioritize it. Your answer should show that you understand what’s important in maintaining good oral health, such as regular checkups, brushing and flossing.
Example: “I believe that the most important aspect of oral health is prevention. Preventative care, such as regular brushing and flossing, can help to reduce the risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues. Regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings are also essential in maintaining good oral health. During these appointments, I am able to provide my patients with a thorough assessment of their oral health and make recommendations for any necessary treatments. As a Dental Hygienist, it is my responsibility to educate my patients on proper oral hygiene techniques so they can maintain healthy teeth and gums for years to come.”
16. How often do you recommend patients come in for routine cleanings?
This question can help the interviewer determine how often you recommend patients come in for cleanings and whether your recommendations align with their office’s policies. It can also show them how much experience you have working with different types of patients. In your answer, try to explain what factors influence your recommendations and how you communicate them to patients.
Example: “I recommend that patients come in for routine cleanings every six months. This is the standard recommendation from the American Dental Association, and I believe it to be an important part of preventive care. During these visits, I can assess any changes in oral health since the last visit, provide a thorough cleaning, and discuss any other dental concerns with the patient.
I also like to take the time during these visits to educate my patients about proper oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing techniques, so they can maintain their oral health between appointments. My goal is always to help my patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health.”
17. There is a new treatment for tooth decay that is not widely available yet. A patient wants to know if you would recommend it for them. How do you respond?
This question is an opportunity to show your ability to think critically and apply knowledge in a real-life situation. You can use this question to demonstrate how you would research the treatment, explain it to patients and decide whether or not you would recommend it for them.
Example: “When a patient asks me about a new treatment for tooth decay, I always take the time to explain the pros and cons of the procedure. In this case, I would start by explaining that the treatment is not widely available yet, so there may be some risks involved. I would then discuss the potential benefits of the procedure, such as reducing the risk of further decay or improving the appearance of the teeth. Finally, I would encourage the patient to do their own research on the treatment before making a decision. Ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide if they want to pursue the treatment, but I am happy to provide them with all the information they need to make an informed choice.”
18. Describe a time when you had to educate a patient on proper oral hygiene practices.
This question can help the interviewer determine how you might interact with patients and their unique needs. Use your answer to highlight your communication skills, empathy and ability to educate others on important topics.
Example: “I recently had a patient who was not very familiar with proper oral hygiene practices. I took the time to explain the importance of brushing and flossing regularly, as well as how to properly use mouthwash. I also discussed the benefits of regular dental checkups and cleanings.
The patient seemed hesitant at first, but I was able to break down the information in an easy-to-understand way that made them feel comfortable. After our conversation, they were more knowledgeable about their oral health and felt empowered to take better care of it.”
19. How do you ensure that all dental instruments are properly sterilized?
The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your knowledge of sterilization procedures. Use examples from your previous experience that show how you followed proper sterilization protocols and ensured the instruments were free of germs before use.
Example: “I take sterilization of dental instruments very seriously. I always follow the guidelines set by the American Dental Association and my state’s Board of Dentistry to ensure that all instruments are properly sterilized. This includes cleaning, disinfecting, and then autoclaving the instruments before use. After each procedure, I also make sure to clean and disinfect any surfaces or equipment that were used. Finally, I document every step in a logbook so that there is a record of when and how everything was sterilized. By following these steps, I can guarantee that all instruments are safe for use.”
20. Explain the process of taking and developing X-rays.
This question is a great way to test your knowledge of dental hygiene procedures. It also allows you to show the interviewer that you can work independently and efficiently. When answering this question, try to be as specific as possible about the steps involved in taking X-rays.
Example: “Taking and developing X-rays is an important part of a dental hygienist’s job. The process begins with the patient being seated in the chair and positioning them for the X-ray. I then place the X-ray film in the patient’s mouth, making sure it is correctly positioned to capture the desired image. Once the X-ray has been taken, I remove the film from the patient’s mouth and develop it using a specialized machine. After development, I inspect the X-ray to ensure that the quality of the image is up to standard. Finally, I record the results and store the X-ray in the patient’s file.
I have extensive experience taking and developing X-rays as a Dental Hygienist. I am confident that my skills and knowledge make me the perfect candidate for this position.”
21. What is your experience with local anesthesia administration?
This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your experience with administering local anesthesia. This is an important skill because it allows you to perform procedures that require patients to be numb, such as cleaning teeth and removing plaque. When answering this question, make sure to highlight any specific training or certifications you have in local anesthesia administration.
Example: “I have been a practicing Dental Hygienist for the past five years and I am very experienced in local anesthesia administration. During my time as a hygienist, I have administered local anesthetics to hundreds of patients with great success. I understand the importance of proper technique when it comes to administering local anesthetic and I take every precaution necessary to ensure that each patient is comfortable during their procedure.
I am also well-versed in the different types of local anesthetics available and can advise on which would be best suited for each individual patient based on their needs. I always strive to provide the highest quality care to my patients and make sure they are aware of any potential risks associated with local anesthesia before proceeding.”
22. Have you ever been involved in any research projects related to dentistry or dental hygiene?
Employers ask this question to learn more about your academic background and how you apply it in the workplace. If you have participated in any research projects, explain what they were and what skills you developed from them.
Example: “Yes, I have been involved in a few research projects related to dentistry and dental hygiene. During my time as a student at the University of Texas Dental Hygiene program, I was part of a team that conducted research into the effects of fluoride on tooth enamel. We presented our findings at several conferences and published an article in a peer-reviewed journal.
I also recently completed a project for a local dentist’s office where we studied the effectiveness of different types of mouthwash on reducing plaque buildup. Our results were very positive and showed that certain types of mouthwash can be effective in reducing plaque.”
23. Are there any procedures that you have not yet mastered but would like to learn more about?
This question can help the interviewer determine your level of commitment to continuous learning. It also helps them understand what you might need from their training program if they have one in place. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific procedure that you would like to learn more about and why.
Example: “Yes, there are a few procedures that I have not yet mastered but would like to learn more about. Specifically, I am interested in learning more about the use of lasers in dental hygiene treatments. This technology is becoming increasingly popular and I believe it could be beneficial for my patients. I am also eager to learn more about periodontal maintenance therapy and how to effectively treat gum disease. Finally, I am very interested in expanding my knowledge on the latest advances in digital radiography and its applications in dentistry.”
24. Do you have any experience working with special needs patients?
Employers may ask this question to see if you have experience working with patients who need special care. They want to know that you can work with a variety of people and provide them with the best dental hygiene treatment possible. When answering, consider mentioning any specific training or certifications you have in caring for special needs patients.
Example: “Yes, I do have experience working with special needs patients. During my time as a Dental Hygienist, I had the opportunity to work with many different types of patients, including those with physical and mental disabilities. I was able to develop effective communication strategies that allowed me to provide quality care for these individuals while still respecting their boundaries and limitations.
I also worked closely with the patient’s families in order to ensure they were comfortable with the treatment plan and understood what was being done. This included educating them on proper oral hygiene techniques and providing resources for further support if needed. My goal was always to make sure the patient felt safe and secure throughout the entire process.”
25. What methods do you use to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in dentistry and dental hygiene?
Employers want to know that you are committed to your career and continually learning new things. They also want to see that you have a passion for dentistry and dental hygiene. Show them that you are eager to learn more about the field by sharing some of the ways you stay up-to-date on developments in dentistry and dental hygiene.
Example: “Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in dentistry and dental hygiene is important to me as a Dental Hygienist. To ensure I am providing my patients with the best care possible, I make sure to stay informed of any new research or techniques that may be beneficial for them.
I do this by attending continuing education courses offered through local universities and professional organizations. These courses help me stay current on the most recent advancements in the field. In addition, I read relevant articles from journals and magazines, and follow industry leaders on social media to keep abreast of the latest news and trends.
I also take advantage of online resources such as webinars and podcasts which provide valuable information about changes in the profession. Finally, I attend conferences and seminars related to dental hygiene so that I can network with other professionals and learn more about the newest developments in the field.”