Would a career in Dental Hygiene suit me?

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (14)

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

Here's a list that should give you a rough idea of my situation and what I'm looking for in a job. I,

- Am looking for a job that requires only an Associate's degree in the pertinent field.
- Have little desire for a partner or to have children of my own, and have several backup plans (including an AAS) if I should ever change my mind.
- Am relatively low-maintenance, and require $20,000/year at most to cover my expenses.
- Know of at least one Dentist's office in my area that offers a good salary ($40,000 - $70,000), steady work, and great benefits.
- Am willing and able to move every couple of years if I have to in order to seek employment, and can work just about any of the jobs that require only a high-school education while I wait for a Dental Hygienist position to open up, if necessary.
- Have no particular wish to advance my career once I have it, as long as I already receive an amount that covers the bills and leaves me a little spending cash.
- Engage in strength training every other weekday, so I have a strong back and am easily able to stand on my feet for hours on end.
- Don't mind if I'm not given any respect for working my job.
- Enjoy interacting with people, and am apparently fairly likeable and easy to get along with--at least in person.

If you've worked as a Dental Hygienist, especially if you're male, I would appreciate it if you contributed you opinion on the feasibility of a career as an RDH for me. Also, are there some prohibitive aspects of the DH profession that could affect me that I've missed in my research?

I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (6) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

Wow..you are one rare customer..don't mind if you get no respect - that's pretty well a given. You will never advance as a DH, so that one is covered..that's two down.

The one about the cash is going to be a problem tho..if you work one day a week at $30.00/hr..which is very likely or even maybe ambitious in this market, you will earn before taxes $10.920.00/annum.

You are not aiming low enough it seems!!

Oh, and that local dentist that offers $40,000 to $70,000/yr. with good benefits..a dinosaur! Good luck trying to find another like him.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia said: Wow..you are one rare customer..don't mind if you get no respect - that's pretty well a given. You will never advance as a DH, so that one is covered..that's two down.

The one about the cash is going to be a problem tho..if you work one day a week at $30.00/hr..which is very likely or even maybe ambitious in this market, you will earn before taxes $10.920.00/annum.

You are not aiming low enough it seems!!

Oh, and that local dentist that offers $40,000 to $70,000/yr. with good benefits..a dinosaur! Good luck trying to find another like him.

Thanks, I guess. Yes, I've seen posted here and in other places that DHs receive very little if any respect but that doesn't really bother me as previous work experience has lent me a tough skin. I hope this doesn't come off as sounding rude, but where exactly could an RDH advance to in the first place? Management? Anything else (like becoming a dentist) would require further schooling, correct?

As for income, what you say is a bit of a disappointment but I'm not averse to working a second job in tandem with my work as an RDH while I wait for a better DH position to open up. I'll keep looking for that illusive "dinosaur," although it would appear they are not quite so rare within 20 miles of my hometown. A quick Google search found two others hiring RDHs in my area offering good pay and steady employment with benefits. The rest either didn't have an employment page or seemed to have more than enough dental hygienists already so I'll be contacting them within the week to see if they're hiring and, even if they're not, what they offer to their RDH employees. Of course those jobs will be filled by the time I graduate, but they paint a promising picture.

Perhaps this has something to with living in a rural area (Rochester is not my hometown) or maybe I'm just lucky. Any other reasons to avoid the RDH program like the plague?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

Michael..why do you want to be a DH? It's a mind numbingly boring job..! Isn't there anything else you'd rather explore? If you don't mind me asking..how old are you? You sound very young.

The DH situation and work opportunities are a little different in Canada. Given that there are also differences in each of the 10 provinces (a lot of USA folks don't know anything about Canada's geography), some DH can open their own practice, work for First Nation Healthcare facilities, teach, sell products..so there are, or were other opportunities. That is not the case anymore as Canada is supersaturated with DH looking for or trying to keep their jobs.

I don't know anything about your area, so you may be correct in thinking that the future will be promising as far as getting a job is concerned, but I have my doubts. The US seems to be in the same supersaturated condition, and with your post, you may find more DH moving to your area! A lot of DH have invested a considerable amount of $ and will do the same as you to garner work.

I don't know where you've worked before where you recieved no respect, but working with a very small group of people dictated to by a small business owner is not fun. You will be selling dental procedures rather than furthering health care for your clients. It's a tough economy and $$ is the intense focus of a small business owner who has high entitled expectations of how they should live..at your expense. You and the dentist are direct $ producers..and you will be expected to PRODUCE! A lot of pressure, and you will not be concentrating on what you were taught to do in school..you will be selling.

So, I'm asking you again..why DH?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (5) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia said:
So, I'm asking you again..why DH?

I'm looking for high-paying (per hour) work with relatively light, flexible hours so that I have time to do the things I really want to do. In fact, mind-numbingly boring work is exactly what I'm looking for. If I was looking for a stimulating job I would've continued on in my major and completed a Web Development degree that would've made me a lot more money but also would've required a lot more work hours. Oh, and you guessed correctly, I'm 24--just old enough to have found that the exciting jobs were most definitely not for me.

Considering that I'm not currently a RDH looking for work, I'm not entirely sure how good the job market is in my area other than what I've found through my research. I do however think it unlikely that such large numbers of experienced RDHs would move to my area, as the overwhelming majority of dental hygienists are female and so the more experienced ones most likely already have families and can't just hop from city to city, state to state hoping to find their ideal workplace. Obviously not every experienced RDH is going to be married with children, but again, I feel like the majority probably are.

As for your last paragraph, what do you mean by selling dental procedures? Could you give me an example? I can't say that I've ever had a procedure pushed on me by a dental hygienist or a dentist, for the matter, and my mouth is certainly not the friendliest place for teeth to live. At any rate, I don't have a problem with it. Maybe it's because I don't fully understand what you mean by "selling dental procedures," but at the very least I don't think there's a procedure out there intended to do harm to the recipient. So I guess the way I see it is if they can afford it, they'll get it done and if they can't, they won't. Most people don't see dental health as being as important as an RDH or a dentist might

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

Michael..I just think, IMHO, that you are setting your sights very low.

DH itself is a on it's way to becoming a dinosaur..and I don't see it at all in the future.

I would strongly suggest that you become a Dental Assistant instead..there is a lot more work available, a lot more variety in your job, and in the near future you will be able to take courses that will allow you to scale etc. The wages are closer than ever, plus the job would be secure, stable and more respected. You would be paid regardless if the client shows up or not.

What I meant by selling dental procedures are procedures that the dentist would do..you are basically the loss leader in a private practice - you bring the clients in and soft soap them into dental procedures that they may or may not need. Each dentist is different. One may specialize in endo or root canals, so that's what you focus on..finding cracks and any supportive evidence that a tooth might need an endo. We get very good at 'suggesting', and you wouldn't know if it was imminent or not.

You mentioned that you didn't want an exciting job. DH is not exciting, but extremely stressful. You have to be an extremely good time manager..and if you're not, you are forever playing catch up.

If you have a patient per hour, you need to take into account all that happens before the client comes in..clean up, set up, chart review..and if the client is late, you are late for the rest of the day. You may be able to make it up in your lunch time, and if you need a bathroom break, good luck - no time. Plus,if the dentist takes their sweet time getting in to see your client, you are again late.

You and dentist are direct producers. You BRING IN MONEY..therefore, every minute of your time with the client MUST BE PRODUCTIVE! You must remember that dentists are owners of a small BUSINESS and the bottom line is $$.

Please think this through before you take any action, and read other threads..you will learn a lot.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (8) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia said: Michael..I just think, IMHO, that you are setting your sights very low.

Well, you would be correct in that assumption. All I want out of a job is to make enough to cover my expenses, plus maybe a little disposable income. That's about it. So I guess I'm a bit boring.

There's no future for dental hygiene? I don't know about that. Anecdotal evidence from mostly anonymous internet posters would seem to agree with you, but my own research, the research of others, and statistics seem to indicate the opposite. I don't know who to believe when both "sides" are so skewed towards opposite ends of the spectrum.

I don't mean to insult anyone, but I don't see how the RDH program could be so overwhelmingly more difficult than the previous information technology program I graduated from just a few years ago and, forgive me my bravado, but I didn't have much difficulty graduating from that program with honors. If it's actually a daunting task to graduate as an RDH then I don't see how the market could be flooded with them, and if it's about as easy as any other program and the job market is indeed flooded then at the very least it's one more qualification that will open up job opportunities to me such as a job as a dental assistant as you've recommended.

Of course I don't think that the work of a dental hygienist is perfectly easy, but I feel like based on the description given by you and others that it will be easy for me. I don't get stressed easily and while I'm not the best, I think I can manage time as well as most people. As I've said, I understand that dentistry is currently more a business rather than health care but if anything that benefits me. I'm confident that I can be productive, as you say, and businesses don't fire good producers.

At any rate, I have no intention of just jumping headfirst into anything as evidenced by having created this thread.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

exp in Massachusetts said: Michael...I think you are just here because you are bored....or someone who wants to stir things up....this field is dying and the pay is going backward....also, everything Waterbug said is true....time to find another forum to ask ?'s on....I think you've rec'd all the answers here to look to another field....gl

I apologize, but it seems like there's a misconception on your part. I'm not seeking to "stir things up," I'd just like to see some sources or hard evidence that dental hygiene is as bad a profession to get into as you all say. There is plenty of evidence to the opposite, and so far all my research has only found anecdotal evidence from more or less anonymous users on the internet that proves what you're all saying.

I don't mean to start something. It's just that I'm seriously considering a career as an RDH, and you all make it sound like such a bad idea, so I thought that there was some evidence to back up your claims. Given how you shut me down and call me a troublemaker for my efforts, it seems I was mistaken. Sorry for asking uncomfortable questions, I guess.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

Michael..maybe you are on this forum to stir things up.

You sound an awful like another person who insisted on stats to back up what the hundreds or more DH on this forum know from BEING IN THE FIELD. There are NO STATS..just anecdotal evidence.

The job prospectives statitions only know what has happened in the past and are basing their future stats on WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST.

Since you know so much about what the future of DH will be, why are you on this forum? I'm wasting my time..all the information you need is here. Open your eyes, mind and read..

Have you actually spoken to any RL DH? Any temp agencies?

I have my doubts about the information you provided about the dentists in your particular area..

There is no misconception..if you were truly looking into the DH field, you would have found at least a few stories similar to what you read on this forum.

As Exp said..time to move on Michael.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

Another piece of you perspective puzzles me..where do you get the idea that DH is flexible..you are booked, hopefully, weeks in advance..you cannot just up and leave whenever it suits you. It's a JOB, and you are expected to be available at a minutes notice.

Another thing..no one said that the DH program was formidable..just stupidly stressful.

Oh, and DH is a dinosaur..believe me on that.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia said: Michael..maybe you are on this forum to stir things up.

You sound an awful like another person who insisted on stats to back up what the hundreds or more DH on this forum know from BEING IN THE FIELD. There are NO STATS..just anecdotal evidence.


Actually, you're right. I am trying to stir things up--trying to stir up some convincing sourced facts. I have considered the anecdotal evidence on this board and others, but anecdotal evidence itself does not a convincing argument make. How do I know that you're telling the truth? That you're all not just the outspoken minority as is often the case with these things? That you're even registered dental hygienists? I know I've been prone to stretching the truth or outright lying on the internet from time to time.

It's true that they base their stats on the past, but according to many of you this drought of dental hygienist jobs has been ongoing for some time now. Considering how often they gather data, this would have been accounted for in that time.

I honestly don't know that much about future of DH. That's why I'm asking for figures, for statistics, for something other than anecdotal evidence which is easily falsified or skewed. The same could be said for the BLS's statistics, but I've also found positive feedback from proven RDHs and the job market in my area echoes their sentiments.

Not quite yet have I interviewed anyone as I just recently became interested in this career, but I've got a cleaning scheduled in a few weeks and I intend to ask a few questions. As for your doubts? That's good, that's rational. I only provided anecdotal evidence after all, since I never give out my real location online.

As I've said, I've read dozens of these stories but stories on their own do not make a compelling argument.

Alas, you're right. It is time to move on, as I have seen the "evidence" this forum has against being an RDH and found it lacking.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Michael93 in Rochester, New York

16 months ago

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia said: Another piece of you perspective puzzles me..where do you get the idea that DH is flexible..you are booked, hopefully, weeks in advance..you cannot just up and leave whenever it suits you. It's a JOB, and you are expected to be available at a minutes notice.

Another thing..no one said that the DH program was formidable..just stupidly stressful.

Oh, and DH is a dinosaur..believe me on that.


Sure, you're booked in advanced, but it seems you get to decide what that schedule looks like. That allows you to adjust your schedule for any personal appointments that come up. That's what I mean by flexible.

I handle stress well, so it's good to know that that will benefit me if I choose to pursue an RDH degree.

That's the problem. It would be silly to take a stranger at their word without any facts or stats or evidence to back it up.

Anyway, thank you for helping allay the worries I had about this job. Considering how negative this forum seems to be towards the RDH profession as it stands, I'm sure you and others have dug up anything and everything and the large majority of those issues are no problem for me, or can be dealt with.

As I stated in my previous post, I'll be leaving now since you all seem opposed to me asking for more evidence than mere anecdotes. It just didn't feel right to leave your reply unanswered.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (6) Reply - Report abuse

waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

16 months ago

I think you've alleviated all doubt by your last posts..you are probably a dentist and why you would bother to 'stir things up' in a dental hygiene forum is beyond me. ...slumming??

You're elevator isn't quite making it to the penthouse. Where on earth would you find statistics that proved DH was on a downhill slide into oblivion?

I don't know about the US, but in Canada everything to do with dental is controlled by the dentists..so no, they are not going to allow any 'stats' that might deplete the DH field and possibly bring back the shortage that plagued them in the past, and caused them to act and open 34 new schools in Canada.

So, goodbye, and thank you for entertaining me, and consoladating my sad belief in dentists in general..by and large a pathetic group of small minds and huge unsupported egos.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (5) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Cerritos College grad in Placentia, California

16 months ago

Michael, I find it so bizarre that you're looking for mind-numbingly boring work and don't mind if you're not given any respect for your job!

Have you considered data-entry work or working at a call center?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.