Dental hygienist employment

// reveal that the dental hygienist profession is among the fastest growing professions in the U.S. Actually, the statistics had projected 36% increase in employment by 2018. The dental hygienist career is exceedingly satisfying – not to mention rewarding.

// such as flexibility, advancement opportunities, and a fast-paced work environment. Most importantly, it offers you the chance to build long-term relationships with patients.

Statistics and benefits aside, what are some of the key things you should take into consideration when looking for dental hygienist jobs?

Identifying yourself as a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) to potential employers

Every other oral health care professional, from lab technicians and dentists to physical therapists and nurses is required to be licensed. And dental hygienists are no exception. Licensure is the most reliable form of regulation used in the U.S. As per the federal and state law, licensed oral health care professionals are the only people who meet the necessary qualifications to practice.

// Advisably, check with your local state agencies to find out the specific licensure requirements.

Upon receipt of your license, you may use the “RDH” initials after your name to denote that your state recognizes you as a registered dental hygienist.

Personality and interests

Obviously, licensure is not enough. To cope well in the dental hygiene job market, hygienists should also possess the following qualities:

  • Compassion– Every so often, patients are in acute pain or have fears about undertaking a dental operation. A hygienist should be sensitive enough to their feelings and prepare them for any eventualities.
  • Dexterity– Hygienists must be exceptional at working with their hands. As you might be aware, they work in tight spaces on a very small part of the body, using precise instruments and tools.
  • Detail oriented – Hygienists must be good at paying attention to the job at hand and ability to remain focused for long hours. In some instances, hygienists work independently and without the direct supervision of a dentist, hence why this form of precision is needed.
  • Physical stamina– Hygienists should be comfortable carrying out physical tasks, such as standing and bending over patients for a long time.
  • Interpersonal skills– Everyday, hygienists must work closely with patients, dentists and other dental team members. Thus, they must be ready to communicate and interact with different people with different personalities freely.

What makes a dental hygienist job attractive?

Dental hygienists normally have a paycheck to wait for every fortnight, but is that the only thing? Here are other benefits associated with this profession:

Flexible schedule

One of the significant benefits of being an RDH is flexible scheduling. Some websites rank dental hygiene as one of the professions with admirable work-life balance. The website also goes ahead to describe the career as one of the “best jobs for working moms” since it allows individuals to work part-time or just during the weekends.

Surprisingly, many hygienists are even employed at multiple practices, working two or three days per week in each one. Although you might have to tweak your schedule occasionally to match the demands of a busy practice, most hygienists are able to plan their own work hours, in line with their hectic lives.

Read: the difference between RDH and dentist »

Job stability

As the population continues to grow and preventive oral care continues to be prioritized, this profession will indubitably be one of the most in-demand professions in the coming years. What does this mean for dental hygienists? There will be a continuously high demand for their services, whether they are just finishing their degree program or in the midst of their careers.

People-oriented atmosphere

The priority of every hygienist is to see his/her patients smiling happily. You interact with people with different personalities and from different backgrounds on a daily basis, and nothing beat seeing them go back to their homes satisfied. If at all you appreciate the significance of oral health and keen on helping others, the dental hygienist profession could be ideal for you.

Advancement opportunities

You will need either an associate’s degree or certificate at minimum to practice in a private dental office as a hygienist. However, did you know that you can still enroll for a bachelor’s or master’s degree to advance career-wise? Through this type of advancement opportunities, a hygienist can end up in the dental research field, teaching in colleges, or even as an independent dentist.

For instance, if you wish to get rid of the “hygienist” title and become a dentist, you can apply for a four-year doctoral course to pursue a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) in any of the accredited universities. With a DDS or DMS in hand, you can then undertake state-specific clinical and written exams in order to obtain your license and get to practice as a full-fledged dentist.

Competitive salary

//, the median pay for hygienists is $74, 820 per year. The actual pay, however, may vary due to a range of factors, such as specialization within the industry, years of experience, location, among others.

Working conditions for dental hygienists

Hygienists provide clinical service in a range of settings such as community health centers, hospitals, private dental practices, prisons, faculty practice clinics, schools, nursing homes, state and federal government.

In brief, here is what to expect in a typical dental hygienist work setting:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have great social contact abilities. Like we mentioned earlier, in their line of duty, hygienists interact with people from different backgrounds.
  • They are required to work as part of a dental team
  • May be placed in conflict situations occasionally, in which some patients may be rude or unwelcoming

Physical work conditions

  • Always wear protective attire. Most of the times, they are in masks, rubber gloves, and safety glasses to protect themselves and patients from diseases.
  • Are usually exposed to radiation, like when x-raying patients’ teeth
  • Are often exposed to infections and diseases from their contact with patients
  • Work on very little spaces
  • Sometimes they get in awkward positions to access patients’ teeth
  • Are usually exposed to distracting noise levels

Work performance

  • Dental hygienists must be thorough in their work. Mistakes could seriously jeopardize the health of the patients.
  • Can handle most tasks and make many decisions without relying on their supervisors.
  • Repeat the same assignments over and over, such as applying fluoride and cleaning patients’ teeth.
  • Always make decisions which affect the image of the practice


  • May work part time or full time
  • May work during the day, evenings, or weekends
  • May be contracted by more than one dental office

Read: Job outlook for dental hygienists »

Looking for dental hygienist opportunities in your area?

The good news?

Since there is a high demand for hygienists, you’ll probably spend less time and effort looking for a job. This high demand also implies that you can afford to be selective.

That said, when that job-hunting time comes, instead of opting to work for an rdh dental temp agency or looking for vacancies on the conventional job boards, you can take advantage of the latest technology and choose where you want to work or how much you want to earn. Is that even possible, you may ask?

It simple! Start by building your profile online and setting your own rates on Cloud Dentistry. Basically, Cloud dentistry is a cloud-based job matching platform which gives dental hygienists and other dental staff control over their wages, schedule and work environments.

Employers can see your availability, qualifications, schedule and testimonials. With the high visibility associated with Cloud Dentistry, you won’t have to be concerned with disordered job boards.

More specifically, the platform is perfect for hygienists who wish to work part-time, find temp-to-perm positions, or earn more money by working extra hours outside of their regular jobs. What are you waiting for? Get started today by creating a free profile.

Sign up for free

Zero upfront fees for dental offices. for specialists, dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants. Free