The dental hygiene profession is constantly bombarded by negatives, ranging from the risk of musculoskeletal disorders to the lack of respect from the general public. It is easy to come up with a list of negative aspects of a dental hygiene career.
However, many hygienists find great satisfaction in the jobs that we do. With so many negatives surrounding our profession, what keeps a dental hygienist coming back?
Below is a list of 10 things a dental hygienist like me loves:
1) The compliant patient
It may seem like they are one in a million. Most hygienists would probably confess that we would put up with the million noncompliant patients for the feeling we get when we have a patient who is. It is the patient who reports buying the electric toothbrush, having a daily flossing regimen, and who makes a point to be compliant with recalls that make our endless oral hygiene education worth it.
2) The improved periodontal case
There is nothing like seeing a post-periodontal scaling and root planing patient return for re-evaluation with decreased pocket depths, less bleeding, and improved tissue color. Seeing the direct results of our hard work at scaling is sure to bring a smile to any hygienist’s face.
3) The patients who feel like family
From watching a nervous toddler grow through wiggling teeth to braces, or hearing the latest news in a family we have been treating for ages, our appointments often go beyond dental hygiene procedures. The bonds we form with our patients give us appointments to look forward to.
4) Getting the perfect open contacts on bitewings
On some patients, perfect bitewings feel like a bigger accomplishment than climbing Mount Everest. There is no better feeling than proudly pulling up bitewings with all contacts open for our doctors to see.
5) Brand new instruments
That feeling of opening new scalers and ultrasonic tips feels like Christmas morning in our operatories.
6) Perfect fitting scrubs
Finding a pair of scrubs that fit perfectly and don’t show prophy paste stains makes us feel unstoppable.
7) Running on time
A whole day where every patient shows up on time, and none are difficult or have complications? Sounds like what dental hygiene dreams are made of. We all relish in the feeling of walking out of the office at 5 o’clock sharp.
8) When patients respect our opinion and education
Although sometimes it feels rare, it is so encouraging to be treated like the professionals we are. Hearing a patient ask our opinion or show confidence in our abilities is uplifting for hygienists.
9) A mouth makeover
We have all had cases where the patient begins with teeth encased in calculus and ends with a smile they can be proud of. A case like this reminds hygienists just how big of a difference we can make. These cases always reignite our passion for hygiene and for removing big chunks of calculus.
10) Making our patients smile
Maybe it is removing the stain or calculus that causes our patients to be less self-conscious, or maybe it is remembering their favorite flavor of prophy paste. Whatever may cause it, making our patients smile affirms our reason for showing up.
A dental hygienist’s job is hard. A day in the life of a dental hygienist can often involve long hours of mental and physical labor. So what makes us continue to love our profession? The feeling of knowing that whether through successful scaling cases, giving oral hygiene instructions, or through building relationships, we are making a difference in our patients’ lives.