Dental Hygienists Get Paid Well – Better than Some Dentists Wish!

Post your comments about dental hygienists to our blog. Read the dental hygienist pay rates survey press release.

Dental Hygienists

In this poll, we asked dentists: What is the average base hourly pay for your dental hygienists?

The average response was $36 an hour. However, the range is wide, with some making $20 or less and others pulling in $50 or more. Dentists' feelings on the subject are mixed; some feel hygienists are grossly overpaid, while others insist they're worth every penny.

Read the dentists’ comments for more insight into dental hygienists and how much they get paid.

General dentists versus specialists


General dentists in this survey reported paying their dental hygienists more than specialists did.

Urban, suburban and rural dentists

Geographic location was highly correlated with hourly pates for dental hygienists. Given that urban areas have a higher cost of living, it is not particularly surprising to discover that urban hygienists make $4 an hour more than their rural counterparts.

Male dentists compared to female dentists


Female dentists report paying their dental hygienists slightly more than their male colleagues.

For more insight into what our respondents are thinking, check out their comments!

Love for hygienists

  • “She's worth every penny, makes me a fortune.” (Illinois dentist paying $55/hr)

Hostility towards hygienists

  • “For some reason, other employees seem to be better team players. This I have consistently seen with hygienists.” (Massachusetts dentist paying $39/hr)
  • “In my first dental practice I had 7 hygienists working for me. I was not impressed with the return on investment (no matter how much incentive or positive reinforcement I provided they did the bare minimum), so in my current practice I do all my own hygiene and will hire only associate dentists who will perform their own hygiene as well. My overhead and stress levels are much lower with this new arrangement!” (California dentist paying $40/hr)
  • “What do other offices do about paying these wages when there is an opening in the schedule, especially a late cancellation for the last appointment of the day? It's hard not to feel like they are taking advantage of you when they do nothing for 45 minutes at $30+ an hour waiting out the clock.” (Delaware dentist paying $32.50/hr)

Other thoughts

  • “Need to open up enrollment at Dental Hygiene Schools. Easily could run a night program and double enrollment with no increased facility cost.” (Arizona dentist paying $42/hr)
  • “The hourly rate does not compute as long as they are doing more than 3.5 times their daily rate. Sales of other services as well as products needed by patients helps to reach these numbers.” (California dentist paying $50/hr)

Other benefits include…

  • “Plus bonus, pension profit plan, and $100 a month towards health insurance.” (Texas dentist paying $36/hr)
  • “This does not include health, vacation, holiday and retirement benefits.” (Florida dentist paying $24/hr)
  • “I also provide a 3% maximum matching payment to her SIMPLE IRA. She also receives three weeks paid vacation and 8 paid holidays.” (Tennessee dentist paying $31/hr)
  • “They also have medical benefits, a 401k and from one to three weeks of paid vacation, depending on longevity.” (California dentist paying $53/hr)
  • “PLUS: health insurance, vacation, paid holidays, retirement, FICA, Holiday Bonus, Birthday lunches and gifts.” (North Carolina dentist paying $31/hr)
  • “Not including somewhat generous benefits.” (Washington dentist paying $42/hr)
  • “In addition, health insurance and 2 weeks vacation.” (Ohio dentist paying $32/hr)

"I want to pay my hygienist(s) less!"

  • “They get paid too much for what little they do.” (New York orthodontist paying $27/hr)
  • “I believe they are paid too much.” (Utah dentist paying $32/hr)
  • “I do not know what they are thinking. Do they think they are worth more than doctors? I am paying my hygienist too much… and it is the market rate here in Ventura County.” (California dentist paying $50/hr)
  • “I feel they are overpaid.” (California dentist paying $40/hr)
  • “Hygienists are overpaid in Colorado. I have heard that the supply of hygienists has considerably increased, but I haven't seen the rate go down.” (Colorado dentist paying $38/hr)
  • “In the Washington, DC metro area, most hygienists are overpaid in relationship to their production.” (Maryland dentist paying $40/hr)
  • “Way overpaid for the amount of schooling that a 2 or 4 year diploma has to go through, relatively, the assistants and front desk people are underpaid. Relatively.” (Hawaii dentist paying $32/hr)
  • “I started her at a lower salary with more hours, and her hours dropped and her salary remained. So now I pay 23 dollars per hour and I cannot cut her salary because of her reduced hours.” (New York dentist)
  • “I think dental hygienists are overpaid in our region. There are so few of them that they can dictate their rate.” (North Carolina dentist paying $32.50/hr)
  • “I think HYG's are highly overpaid!!!” (Texas dentist paying $35/hr)
  • “I think they are asking too much right out of Hygiene School.” (California dentist paying $45/hr)
  • “Currently, for her production, she is very overpaid. I am helping her to work better to justify her wage.” (Oregon dentist paying $37)

Tell us the details…

  • “$33/hour for our senior RDH. $28/hour for our fresh out of school RDH.” (Maine dentist)
  • “$34/hr for perio/GP hygienists with 10+ yrs of experience; no benefits b/c part-time. I was a hygienist before a dentist, and believe for a 2 to 4 year degree this is a very good salary, especially if they are a 2 year graduate.” (Minnesota dentist)
  • “In DC the average is $350 per 8 hour day. Now I live in Utah and it's $250."
  • “Three working on commission average $36.75 on 8.5hrs a day, 4 day work week.” (Kansas)
  • “We have a new hygienist that we pay $30/hr, and our 6-year hygienist is paid $41/hr.” (Illinois)

Paying on commission

  • “My hygienist works for 32% of production.” (Florida dentist)
  • “We pay on commission.” (California dentist paying $38/hr)
  • “They also get some commission.” (California dentist paying $50/hr)
  • “We pay our hygienists 30% of what they produce. $34 is the average commission, divided by a 40 hour work week.” (Texas dentist)
  • "Pay is 30 percent of their production." (Pennsylvania dentist paying $60/hr)
  • “I pay her on commission.” (Virginia dentist)

Not paying on commission

  • “Hygienists should be paid based on their ability to produce. Commission gets too hairy, so base pay is best.” (Alabama dentist paying $20/hr)

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