Oral Hygienist

Dental hygienists (oral hygienists) are concerned with the promotion of oral health and the prevention of dental disease. They remove stains and tartar from teeth and polish them. They apply decay-preventing agents to teeth, insert temporary fillings and take impressions and castings of study models. They give patients information about good home dental care and healthy nutritional practices.

Dental hygienists perform diagnostic tests for interpretation by the dentist, such as intra-oral and extra-oral X-rays. They assist dentists during dental operations.

Dental hygienists are professional health educators with their own consulting rooms, who work under the supervision of dentists in private practices, or for the Department of Health in hospitals, clinics or schools, where they may also teach in dental hygiene programmes.

Consulting rooms are usually modern, airy and well equipped. Part of the work is sometimes done in operating theatres. If a dental hygienist works for a government health department, the job may include a certain amount of travelling to surrounding schools and institutions.

Personal Requirements

Satisfying Aspects
- helping people to improve their health 
- the opportunity to work part time 
- having a defined area of expertise

Demanding aspects
- working on Saturdays 
- working under pressure 
- being limited in the scope of practice

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences

  • Pass matric with a Bachelor's pass
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university
  • All applications for admission to MBChB and Medical degrees are subject to selection.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.


- Private dental practices 
- Hospitals 
- Clinics 
- State health departments 
- Universities

Further Information

Oral Hygienists’ Association of South Africa 
PO Box Box 253 
Kirkwood, 6120 
Tel: (041) 585-589

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
(553) of Hamilton and
Madiba Streets,
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 338-9300

S A Dental Association 
31 Princess of Wales Terrace
Tel: (011) 484-5288

Programmes by Study Institutions

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