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Dental Hygienist: Tammi Byrd, RDH

Cathy Sivak, Contributing Writer

Dental Hygiene Industry Trends, Information & Advice

How can the reality of a career as a dental hygienist differ from typical expectations?

I think that depends on whether you enter the field looking for a job or a profession. Anyone will get “burned-out” with a job. Additionally, individuals need to realize the long term wear on the body in a job that predominantly utilizes usually one side of the body. Get involved in yoga or some type of exercise on a regular that strengthens and stretches the body on both sides to maintain your personal health and well-being.

What are the best ways to land a job as a dental hygienist?

Know that you haven’t settled for average and project this confidence when interviewing.

How available are internships or other hands-on learning experiences?

All accredited dental hygiene programs have many hours of “hands-on” learning experiences and most programs have rotations in settings outside of the schools in nursing homes, elementary schools, etc.

How is the job market now in the industry? How do you think it will develop over the next five years?

Dependent on where you live, the job market is usually very good. Dental hygiene is one of the fastest growing professions. The market will continue to drive this as consumers become more aware of the education and services dental hygienists provide. The barriers restricting direct access to dental hygiene care will continue to be removed over the next several years. You will also see advanced levels of dental hygienists develop that will increase opportunities for those pursuing a higher degree and increased responsibilities.

What can recent dental hygiene school graduates expect as a salary range starting out?

This is directly affected by the region of the country you live in and is usually proportionate with the cost of living. Alabama is the only real exception, as dental hygienists in the state are not required to have a formal education and the salaries are directly affected by this.

What topics are emerging as hot issues in the overall field of dentistry that will impact the dental hygiene profession?

The need for increased access to care is one. There will be the development of a mid-level practitioner to provide additional restorative services. The ADHA is in the process of finalizing the curriculum development for an Advance Dental Hygiene Practitioner. The U.S. Budget was ratified by the President this year with language that HRSA pursue this practitioner development.

Do you feel that is important to be passionate about the field of dental hygiene in order to be successful?

I believe that success is being passionate about anything you do.

*What other career advice can you offer future dental hygienists?

Stay involved and on the cutting edge of emerging technology.

Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the field of dental hygiene that would be interesting or helpful to dental hygiene students?

Find a mentor and ask them for direction when you are unsure.

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