Dear Dental Hygienists: Isn’t it Time to Value Ourselves Properly?


As a dental hygienist, it is important to understand your value in the practice, especially now as shortages cause staffing issues.

Dear Dental Hygienists: Isn't it Time to Value Ourselves Properly?

Dear Dental Hygienists: Isn't it Time to Value Ourselves Properly? Photo courtesy of JackF /

The time has come to talk about something many of you have been pondering behind closed doors. You might be too afraid to say it out loud. Instead of judging, give some thought to the idea you are about to read.

As you know, there is an immense shortage of dental hygienists, front office staff, and dental assistants. My message is this: It’s time to charge forward and get raises for the hard work that you are doing. Why not?

‘Why not?’ is a loaded question, but there is nothing wrong with looking out for yourself. If you feel that you have not been compensated appropriately in the past, then do something. Look at any of the dental Facebook pages, and you will repeatedly see the need for staff. From sign-on bonuses to fantastic compensation, this is your time.

I hope I am not going to get flak from some of you thinking I am fanning the flames. Some may think this is unethical to be thinking about oneself during a pandemic. My response to them is, “Nonsense.” People have a right to feel empowered and to change their lives. I am merely pointing out that now may be the time to act. The catalyst may be the pandemic and all the problems that have come with it, but with problems come opportunities. You are being given permission to think about yourself. I can hear the dentists beginning to roar and share their feelings on this issue.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you should gouge your boss to either pay you more money or leave. What I am saying is that you are in a different position right now. You are a desired commodity. Society doesn’t yet realize how difficult it is going to be to get their teeth cleaned, but they will shortly. With fewer hygienists graduating, the talent pool isn’t growing. Now you can advocate for yourself. What would make you happy? What is realistic? What is crossing the line and being selfish and asking too much?

I’m not focusing on money. Instead, for some, the goal is to get more respect as a professional. You are in a position of power now, but with power comes responsibility. You can’t just go off and demand the world to be laid at your feet, but you can affect change. You can affect how your profession is viewed. You can affect how the culture in your practice can be. Change is a good thing. It provides an opportunity for improvement.

Some of you will realize that you have a good working situation. Maybe you just want to be included in the decision making. Sometimes you need to know more about what the bigger picture looks like. Then, you can decide how to approach your office manager or dentist.

I am not writing this to stir things up (wait a second…maybe I am). When you get passionate about something for or against it, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter. It gets you thinking. It gets you talking. Communication and critical thinking are what propels further changes and improvement. Ultimately, you must do what you think is right, but don’t look back at this unique time in history and remember that you did nothing and regret it.

Email and share what you think about this article. Isn’t it time?

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