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Struggles in the Life of a Dental Hygienist

The life of a dental hygienist can be challenging, to say the least. How you handle these challenges goes a long way in preparing you for the days ahead. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply laugh about what a unique career you have.

To help calm your mind after a hard day at the office, let’s look at some of the struggles dental hygienists face each and every day. If you are currently studying to become a dental assistant, this article will better prepare you for what lies ahead.

1. Fluids you’d rather avoid

There’s something a little too unintentionally intimate about coming in contact with other people’s bodily fluids. When it comes to the daily role of a dental hygienist, this is just about impossible to avoid

If you’re just getting started, this can be a tough pill to swallow. For better or worse, it’s just something you have to get used to. At least there’s a bright side: you will always have ample protection to keep the germs at bay.

2. Children, teens, adults. Oh my!

Most of us expect kids to be difficult to manage. They tend to squirm about in the chair without any regard to your profession. But adults? We expect them to be much more accommodating.

Surprisingly, teenagers can be the best patients, as many grown-ups act worse than children. Whether it’s from moving around too much or not being straight about their oral hygiene, adults can prove to be quite the handful.

3. You won’t be missed

Patients make it no secret that they hate coming to the dentist. Unfortunately, as a dental hygienist, you are often the one who has to hear about their hatred for all things dental. Don’t let this ruin your day, though. It’s usually nothing personal.

4. It’s hereditary

You’re bound to hear many patients claim that their bad teeth are hereditary. Whether they are embarrassed by their lack of oral hygiene or some other reason, you’re going to be inundated with excuses as to why their teeth aren’t properly cared for.

5. “You don’t know what you’re doing”

It doesn’t matter what your gig is. There’s always going to be that patient, client, or customer who never studied for your profession, but acts like they know more than you do. It’s best to take it in stride. You’re going to hear a lot worse over the course of your career.

6. There’s more to oral hygiene than white teeth

If you haven’t yet encountered the patient who thinks white teeth are the be-all-end-all of oral hygiene, just wait; you will. What’s even more amazing is their inability to understand that oral health has more to do with proper care than it does the brightness of teeth.

7. Mixed signals

As a dental hygienist, your job is to communicate your patient’s status directly to the dentist. It’s not uncommon for a patient to tell you one thing, only for the dentist to be told something completely different. This is unfortunately just something you’re going to have to get used to, no matter how much you pry.

8. Running late

Most patients don’t realize that showing up to their appointments late can throw a monkey wrench in the rest of the day. If you haven’t yet mastered the art of dealing with those running late, hang in there. You’ll eventually learn how to juggle the patients who show up on time, and those who don’t.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg! If this unique, challenging, yet rewarding career appeals to you, sign up on our website to get your career started. You should also subscribe to our blog and download our app to get regular updates on dental jobs and careers!


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