Six Qualities of a High-performing Dental Hygienist

In the modern dentist’s office, a dental hygienist is probably the person that patients will interact with the most, even more than the dentist in some cases. More than just a technical position, the role of the dental hygienist is critical to the smooth operation and success of the entire practice.

For anyone looking to embark on a career in this field, dental hygienists have more opportunities than ever these days. North Americans continue to place a premium on dental health, preventive care, and dental hygiene visits. As a result, dental hygienists have more opportunities to work in a greater variety of settings than ever before, whether it’s as a temporary or full-time dental hygienist.

But there are a number of essential skills that any dental hygienist must possess, skills that all dental temp or staffing agencies will require.

Let’s Talk

It takes a special type of personality to not only put patients at ease but also to pass on advice about their oral health. Not everyone has the necessary blend of authority, humour, calmness, and general likability to do it.

To treat patients, a dental assistant has to talk to them. They will need to take patient histories, discuss oral care routines, and explain what they’re doing during treatments. Consequently, being a strong communicator is an essential skill, and one that all dental staffing agencies will be looking out for.

Patience Is A Virtue

All good dental hygienists are patient and compassionate with clients who are afraid or in pain. As a part of teaching patients best practices for ideal oral health, a dental hygienist is constantly explaining proper procedures for tooth brushing, flossing, and good nutrition practices, sometimes giving the same advice on multiple visits. And of course, working with children, as many dentists do, requires an even higher level of patience, making it a truly essential skill.

The Devil Is In The Details

All good dental hygienists have the ability to multitask. Tooth-brushing, flossing, and scraping plaque are meticulous jobs. But at the same time they are working on your teeth, they are looking for possible symptoms, conditions or red flags – all while making the patient feel at ease.

Being detail-oriented is an important trait for those pursuing dental hygienist jobs. To complete treatments, you’ll need to carefully pay attention to what you’re doing. Missing small details can mean patients don’t get the right treatments, or worse, you could even harm patients. If you’re not particularly detail-oriented, dental hygiene may not be for you.

Be Positive

Attitude is everything as a dental hygienist. Most patients prefer energetic, friendly and outgoing hygienists to ease some of their stress about coming to the dentist’s office. As many as 75 per cent of people are at least a little scared of going to the dentist’s office, while 10-15 per cent of people have a significant amount of fear.

Dental hygienists who thrive in the role try to approach each day by being the very best version of themselves. Those that take control of their lives and don’t let the struggles control them will achieve success both inside and outside of the dental practice and will be in demand by dental staffing agencies.

Think Outside The Box

Every patient is different. You’ll encounter unique challenges with each and every one, and you’ll need to be a good problem solver to handle these challenges. For example, if you have scared patients, you’ll need to figure out how to complete their treatments. If you have clients who can’t – or won’t – open their mouths very wide, you’ll need to figure out how to clean their teeth. Try to think outside the box and learn to think on your feet and you’ll find yourself in demand.

Always Be Learning

Graduating from a professional program is a huge accomplishment, but do not get fooled by the idea that that’s the end of the education journey. Once you get your feet on the ground at your new dental office, it would be advantageous to set “smart goals” concerning your future education. The best providers are those that are lifelong learners.


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