Let’s face it, as dental hygienists we love what we do! But scaling teeth day in and day out, week after week, can get pretty old, pretty fast for some. Thankfully, the dental hygiene profession has reached a pivotal moment where there are now countless non-traditional career opportunities both in and out of the clinical setting. More than ever before, dental hygienists find themselves leading initiatives, managing teams, directing programs, advising policy, influencing legislation, and bridging the medical-dental divide.
Do you need a break from your daily clinical routine? Consider expanding your responsibility into any of the following non-traditional roles that are currently trending among our colleagues:
Quickly gaining in popularity, myofunctional therapists specialize in dealing with disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. These disorders routinely effect speaking, breathing, eating, sleeping, and virtually every other aspect of the patient’s life. Myofunctional therapists are often licensed as dental hygienists or speech-language pathologists and integrated into various clinical care teams. Because there is no governing board overseeing the industry, myofunctional therapists do not necessarily have to be certified—however, there are two well-known organizations that do provide multi-day certification courses:
- Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT)
- International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM)
Oral Health Practitioner in a Medical Setting
Many dental hygienists are passionate about educating others on the oral-system link, and are now exploring creative ways to bridge the great medical-dental divide. From providing oral health education to nurses and other medical professionals, to patient advocacy and helping medical patients navigate their oral health needs, to providing preventive and therapeutic treatment in medical facilities, oral health practitioners in medical settings are vital to the future of healthcare.
Independent Coach or Consultant
What exactly is an independent coach or consultant? The answer: Whatever you want it to be. Independent coaches tend to work one-on-one with the client and focus on particular areas such as health coaching, motivational life coaching, or professional career coaching. On the other hand, consultants tend to work with a team of oral health professionals at their specific workplace and focus on developing efficient in-house programming to increase practice revenue, improve patient retention, and create customer satisfaction.
Own or Manage a Mobile Dental Program
Depending on your particular state’s statutes, dental hygienists may be able to own or manage mobile dental programs in non-traditional practice settings like universities, corporate workplaces, hospitals, schools, or even patients’ homes. In most states, hygienists can only provide direct services to underserved individuals and must be an employee of a dentist. However, complete hygiene independence is gaining traction and, in a few states like Colorado and Maine, dental hygienists are able to own dental practices and provide services to anyone, in any place, at any time.
Do you enjoy writing? Do you consider it a personal strength? Then why not submit a few pieces for publication in dental magazines? But don’t limit yourself to just dental-related publications—consider other avenues like blogs, local newspapers, and even magazines and journals geared towards other healthcare professions.
You are no longer limited to the same old clinical role! If you desire a change from your daily routine, then why not use your dental hygiene degree to explore a non-traditional opportunity? Take a look around, and you will discover how dental hygienists are participating in innovative roles, both in and out, of the op. The opportunities are endless! Stay tuned for Part 2 where we continue exploring other innovative roles for dental hygienists everywhere!