While the vast majority of dental hygienists are women, according to a 2019 survey conducted by RDH magazine and DentalPost, “males entering into the RDH profession is a trend to watch.”1 This is good news for the profession, as gender diversity in the workplace benefits both the profession and patients. Some of the benefits of gender diversity include a wider talent pool, different perspectives, enhanced collaboration, improved staff retention, a better reflection of your patients, improved recruitment and reputation, and greater profitability.2
In 2015, Rafael Rondon, BS, RDH, a dental hygienist with almost 30 years of experience, created Mr. RDH, a platform for male hygienists around the world to be able to network, discuss, and influence factors that affect men as hygienists. According to Rondon, the purpose of Mr. RDH is to provide a structure for male hygienists, as a group, to meet and encourage men to embrace their chosen profession and join with their female colleagues in strengthening and continuing to improve oral health care. Mr. RDH does not exclude women, but rather encourages collaboration since most of the profession’s leaders are female.
Rondon states that men in the profession face unique obstacles, including overcoming the historical female hygiene model; the inherent fear of being viewed as the dentist; and the effect of traditional gender roles as they relate to additional and irrelevant job responsibilities (changing light bulbs, fixing equipment, etc.).
Mr. RDH is an advocate for male hygienists on both local and national levels so that the public’s and the profession’s perception of male hygienists is acknowledged and respected. Mr. RDH partners with other entities to ensure full participation of men in the hygiene profession and its organizations. It also capitalizes on the contributions made by our profession and illustrates the qualities of men as hygienists, both clinically and in management.
The dental hygiene profession has been in existence since 1913. It continues to grow and change and improve. More men becoming RDHs adds a refreshing new dimension. Let’s all continue to support one another. As hygienists, both men and women, we are one in our goal to create happy and healthy smiles. For more information, you can find Mr. RDH on Facebook.
1. The state of the RDH career in 2020. RDH magazine. December 1, 2019. https://www.rdhmag.com/career-profession/article/14073700/the-state-of-the-rdh-career-in-2020
2. Brown R. 7 benefits of gender diversity in the workplace. Workplace. https://www.workplace.com/blog/diversity-in-the-workplace
Kirsten Brancheau, BA, RDH, has been practicing clinical dental hygiene since 1978. She earned an associate’s degree in applied science in dental hygiene from Union County College in 1977 and a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Montclair State University in 1988. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Brancheau is also a freelance proofreader, editor, and writer. She can be reached at [email protected].