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What would you tell someone interested in a career in dental hygiene?

This got you talking: What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in dentistry?

March 5, 2024
A career in dental hygiene has many pros and cons. Here's what some readers had to say to those considering this field.

A flexible schedule, competitive salary, and job security are just a few of the many pros that motivate job seekers to consider a career in dental. However, where there are pros, cons are soon to follow. There’s no one better equipped to give honest advice on this topic than hygienists who’ve experienced the ups and downs of a career in dentistry.

Here’s a look at what readers had to say on the RDH Facebook page. (Some responses edited for clarity or space.)

More "This got you talking":

It's an awesome career! It's not just high pay for a little scraping and polish. It is educating patients about their home care and diet to decrease bacteria in their mouth which affects the whole body. If you genuinely care about people, you'll love it! – Jackie C.

Go and observe a dentist and a hygienist, interview a few of them, pay attention to details, know you will be working with blood and people and sometimes not very nice people (not only patients, sometimes coworkers). Make sure you can handle it! - Lora K.

Great career while raising my children. Good pay, but a lot of back and neck pain. After 30+ years in dentistry, I wish I’d studied nursing where there are more options beyond clinical. – Melinda B.

Dental hygiene is physically and mentally draining. You work extremely hard and I never feel that enough recognition is given. And the pay either stays the same or goes down. Also, there aren’t many growth opportunities. – Desiree K.

Plan on working in clinic no longer than 15 years and know where you want to go after that. Get your bachelors in something that will help you transition out of clinic when your body is tired. – Valessa O.

Use hearing protection! After 34 years of practice, this is the number one thing I wish I would have known and taken seriously. – Janet M.

Make friends with every sales rep that walks into your office. They will help you advance your career when you can no longer do hygiene. – Christa M.

Don’t look into the dental field or hygiene because of the money. Although the pay is appealing, you must have a desire to help others improve their total body health. – Samantha F.

Assistants are overworked and underpaid. Become a hygienist at least and find a good office with good doctors and a staff that’s easy to get along with. – Erica M.

Find the right office and you will have a great career. – Claudia E.

Never ever work corporate; find a private practice with a good doc who values a team effort! – Jennifer B.

I’ve worked full-time for 34 years at the same place, and think I have five to seven years left. This career is extremely hard on your body, but I love my patients and do not regret my career choice! – Heather J.

It's not for the faint of heart. But I love my profession and am involved in many ways. If you do it for the right reasons, it will be what you need. – Lupe L.

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