Dental Staffing

The Dental Hygiene Profession: An Exciting and Rewarding Career with Endless Possibilities

We as Dental Professionals know how important oral health is to our overall health. Unfortunately, the greater percentage of medical professionals don’t recognize the treatment of dental disease as having anything to do with the remainder of the human body. As the need for dental providers increases, dentistry has expanded the function of the Dental Hygienist’s job to keep up with the demand.

When dentistry does become more recognized as an arm of medicine (and I believe it will, just not in my time), there will undoubtedly be an increased need for Dental Hygienists to fill Dental Hygiene jobs. Further, as the need to fill Dental Hygiene jobs increases, Dental Hygienists will need to expand their skills to appropriately fill those jobs.

In 1974 when I graduated from Dental Hygiene, I had been trained to clean teeth. Period. And knowing what I know today, I wasn’t particularly good at it, and it was a repetitive, thankless job. Today, the job of Dental Hygiene is vastly expanding to include the administration of anesthesia, writing prescriptions, disease assessment, filling teeth prepped by the Doctor and even restoring teeth, including the preparation and placement of filling material. Keeping in mind: all of this is completely dependent on the state in which you live

Later in my Dental career as a DDS, I worked in a private practice where the four Dental Hygienists had the job of anesthetizing all the patients for two dentists. This allowed each of us to see two extra patients a day, adding significant dollars to our bottom line. Imagine the possibilities if the job of the Dental Hygienist were to come in and fill a prepped tooth, allowing the dentist to move on to their next patient, who was already anesthetized.

Or, if an emergency presented the dentist could diagnose the problem. The Dental Hygienist would take over, administer a long-acting anesthesia and under our direction, write the appropriate prescription to treat infection and pain. Imagine the number of patients that could be treated in a practice offering a job to a Dental Hygienist trained to do these skills.

I have worked in a military facility, preparing soldiers for deployment. On the days we treated disease, the dentists removed decay and prepped teeth and the expanded function Dental Assistant (EFDA) filled the preps. The number of soldiers we could treat in a day was astounding. Although this was the military facility utilizing assistants, it was extraordinarily successful in a setting that needed to provide care for volumes of patients.

If you’re interested in acquiring a job as a Dental Hygienist, you’ll need to be prepared for intense training. Once you complete your studies and pass your boards, you’ll need to get out there and gain experience. Although administration of anesthesia is now a skill trained most Dental Hygiene schools, expanded skills such as prescription writing, disease assessment and simple fillings requires study beyond the usual curriculum of the Dental Hygienist.

In world where there is so much dental disease in need of treatment, today’s Dental Hygiene job is a rewarding and exciting career than can add exponential value to any dental setting. And imagine a time when dentistry and medicine work together…even under one roof. Where the work of Dental Hygienist is on the same level as the job of the nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant is in medicine. I believe it’s just a matter of time.

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“The future depends on what you do today.”
- Mahatma Gandhi