Hygienists 51 to 60 years in age

May 2, 2014
  • I have had, and am still having, a positive career in the dental field. I started as an assistant then later returned to school and became a dental hygienist. I have managed dental offices and now in my 50s. I take care of all the insurance claims and financial responsibilities for a large pedodontic practice. I do hygiene for a day or so if one of our full-time hygienists is out. Being a dental hygienist is a great career choice.
  • Too physically demanding. No breaks during the day unless you have a cancellation. If you work part time you have no sick days, vacation days, nothing. Dentists don't care about you.
  • Loved my profession and building relationships with the patients over many years. Felt appreciated and respected. Very disappointed now, with the onset of all these private colleges. Although i am sure these graduates are well trained, the prestige of dental hygiene is lost. It used to be a difficult program to be accepted into, with entrance exams and interviews. The pay was good and the jobs plentiful. Now my boss is retiring and I am competing for a job with hygienists who will work for no pay. Very disheartening.
  • It has been rewarding from a personal standpoint, and pays much better than many other jobs. I also like the freedom of selecting how much I work.
  • I have been practicing for 40-plus years, and I still love my work. I am able to be a help to my patients, have made many relationships through my work. In what other job can you see the effects of your efforts in such a short period of time? There are many difficult days; however, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I have worked part time, full time double time and everything in between. I am fortunate that my career has been flexible with my family needs. I don't think I would change a thing had I been given the chance to do it all over again.
  • I enjoy every minute of dental hygiene. I am so grateful for choosing this profession. The downfall is the recession has caused a lot of offices closing, so trying to find a full-time position in one office is impossible.
  • I have practiced almost 30 years, and knew this is what I wanted to do as a young teen. The impact of my decision to help others has been the most positive impact on my life.
  • I have been active in my profession and have worked on my own as a public health DH and now as an independent practice DH. It is a great feeling to be able to work with people/patients and help them with all of the evidence-based information that is out there and not have to try to fill a chair down the hall.
  • I actually think I would have more to say if I answered no. Negatives are just so much easier to find. But, I have always enjoyed my work as a dental hygienist. It took me to Switzerland for seven years, which helped me grow professionally and personally. I marvel when some of my favorite patients come in and I remember how awful it was the first time we met either from unhealthy oral conditions or due to a dental phobia. I love dealing with all kinds of people who all have special expertise or interests in something I know nothing about.
  • I enjoy my profession and am not regretful at all for going into it. It is rewarding serve others in improving their oral health. As a single parent it has given me a good income to support my family. Unfortunately, the economy has affected my profession; instead of working full time, I am working part-time.
  • Good profession, initially. Kentucky allowing assistants to polish killed me.
  • Pay is ok. Disillusioned with profession after 32 years due to the fact that dentists are becoming dishonest and "cutthroat." Too much competition and way too many "trade schools" for hygiene. Has brought pay way down.
  • Dental hygiene has been a good career for me. I have been in practice since 1981 and for the most part have enjoyed working as a RDH. The offices and people I work with today are the best. It took me a long time to find the right fit where my skills and expertise are put to use at their fullest. However, today dental hygiene is not a career I would choose. In Georgia, graduating RDHs are not able to find jobs. The market is being flooded with too many graduates. Dentists in this state got mad years ago when they could not get preceptorship passed so they have flooded the market with too many schools. It has driven the salaries down. I feel like there are too many other careers with many more opportunities than hygiene has to offer today. Also, the physical toll of working all these years as a hygienist is another big consideration for not choosing hygiene.
  • I have been in the dental since 1975. I love it. The biggest thing I would advise is take great care of your body — stretch, exercise, get massages, and remember your posture! The hygiene field is a great one, and one can make a good income. I love working with my patients and finding the best oral hygiene tips that will work best for them, and working at making them healthier, and to see value in their health.
  • I have enjoyed over 30 years of dental hygiene. I like working directly on patients. I enjoy getting to know my patients and developing a relationship with them. Excellent pay, flexible schedules over the years, especially when I had young children, and great employers have made it an excellent career choice.
  • I absolutely love dental hygiene! All aspects of hygiene are rewarding; from the reward of treating patients to mentoring students and faculty. The thrill is still there!
  • I think if I knew I would end up a single mother of two children living on a dental hygiene income, I would have gone to dental school. I don't get medical insurance with my jobs, nor can I afford it. I could cry about how my life has gone but what good would that do. So I just continue to practice, as the arthritis in my fingers gets worse. I have my MSEd, and I could teach. But the full time teaching salary would be a 30K cut in pay. I have mastery in my career, and I am glad God gave me a job I could become very skilled at. I just wish the financial protection came with it. Such is life.
  • Yes, but not any more. There are too many hygienists and the dentists I work for now have an attitude that hygienists are a dime a dozen and easily replaceable and then for less money. Young dentists have over taken the established practices I have worked at for years. They are pressing to do more in less time.
  • I enjoy all of my patients, even the trying ones, because each person is unique, with unique needs and insights. I can impact their health in some positive way every single day.
  • I have always been able to find employment in a rural setting. I have worked full time when single to as few as two days a week when my boys were small. The dentists I have worked for have all been excellent dentists clinically and good people. My current boss has a bonus system that rewards me if the practice does well. My patients are the main reason I have enjoyed dental hygiene. I have a large number of patients who request me, which is affirming. Physically, the dental hygiene profession can be very demanding. I do not have to take work home with me, and I have been financially rewarded. It has worked well in my life as a wife, mother, and farm wife. I sometimes regret not becoming a teacher as I had originally planned, but I do a lot of teaching in dental hygiene as well.
  • When allowed to do my job, I love my job. If I had known how the job market would be, I would have went into nursing. I hate the fact that we have to jump through hoops and put out money to be allowed to practice in other states.
  • I have been practicing over 37 years, the last 20 in the same pedo office. I love my boss who is heavily into research and development of new materials, probiotics, xylitol, etc. I am learning every day from him. Most of all, though, I love the kids! I enjoy their enthusiasm for coming to see me and learning about their teeth. I love helping people change the health of their mouth for the better. I am involved in the community and visit preschools, pediatric offices, and mom and tot programs. I have fun every day!
  • I was the primary breadwinner for most of my marriage and raised four children. Even though my hours have been cut drastically and my husband has been out of work, we're still squeaking by. Though I'm distressed about the current situation, through volunteering I find I still love hygiene. I like working with people and enjoy feeling I can help and encourage them.
  • The field of dental hygiene has become very crowded with many undertrained hygienists who do not care. The only conversation the dentist I work for will say to me is "stay on time." I am also very rarely allowed to perform a proper scaling and root planing when necessary, because the dentist questions whether or not he will be paid adequately by a patient's insurance company. I also often find that the dentist I work for job does not regard hygienists as a very valuable asset to his practice. I've had three raises of $1 to $1.50 every two to three years. According to the dentist I work for, the most important aspect of my job is to stay on time. That's it! Quality is secondary to him. Throughout my many years as a hygienist, I know I have helped so many people, both adults and children. I find myself very close to so many patients in my office. If this weren't the case, I would have left a long time ago.
  • This profession has been a great choice for me! Yes, the economic times are not easy, but that goes for many jobs. The ability to work with the patients and to see their progress over the years is so rewarding to me. I don't regret my decision and would encourage others to pursue dental hygiene as well.
  • It's both a good and bad decision. I enjoy my work with the patients. It helped me to raise two kids on my own. But now, with the economy, my pay has gone down twenty thousand. I have no retirement after 38 years. My bosses said I would get it and, with the way things are, I didn't.
  • This is my third career. I feel that because of my age I am able to connect with people of diverse backgrounds as well as dental hygiene IQ and abilities. My strength is educating my patients. My other strength is helping perio patients and those with sensitive teeth. I feel good about my decision to become a dental hygienist because I have had many patients tell me that I have helped them to understand why we ask them to do certain things. I still continue to learn how to get to know people and then educate them after we feel comfortable with each other.
  • I love what I do.. However, it is so disappointing trying to get a job and even harder to like your employer. I love my job and my boss but I only work one day a week. When I looked to fill in my schedule, it took me four years and then the doctor was so rude to me I had to quit. I have practiced for 29 years and never had these problems for the first 20 years.
  • I am rewarded everyday from giving of my services and knowledge to meeting and acquiring new friendships. So glad I chose this field
  • I was raised in a dental family with a DDS for father and RDH for mother. It was what I always wanted. It has served me well. I have been an RDH for 34 yrs.
  • It hasn't been a bad 35 years in practice. It was a great profession with various hours available when my family was young. However, hours are never flexible once you get into an office. Your schedule is set six months in advance. Right now, I feel very trapped. I don't have the skills to do anything else. I always tell young hygienists get your bachelor’s and master’s degrees to give you more options in the future.
  • After 33 years in dental hygiene, I hoped to be making higher income
  • Love my patients! Love what I do! Love to talk and help people! I would do it again, and recommend it to anyone!
  • Nothing is easy. I have been a hygienist for 30 plus years and you have to make yourself valuable. Work well with others, do the best job you can, and be helpful with all coworkers when you can, be cheerful and have a good disposition
  • I have practiced for over 35 years in dental hygiene, and I have come to know myself better and realize my influence on other people and how i have helped them in their lives both dentally and personally and how so many of my patients have influenced my life for the better. It is always good to see a smiling face in a practice when you come in for treatment and I always feel that i have welcomed all my patients warmly into the practice.
  • I have always been employed. I never had a difficult time finding new work. My salary allowed me to support myself after I was divorced many years ago. I still like hygiene, but I wish I could try something else without sacrificing salary. My back bothers me on a daily basis.
  • I am very fortunate to have worked in such a wonderful office. The average time the employees have worked in the office is 25 years. I have been lucky to see three generations of patients come in our office. Hygiene doesn't feel like a job it is like going to work everyday to see your family and friends.
  • I thought this was a good profession to be able to support myself. I grew up working in my dad's pedodontic practice. The salaries have not kept up with the cost of living. I have no benefits. I see friends/patients who work in health care in hospitals where they had a retirement plan and have already retired before age 60. Although I have been very good contribution the maximum to my IRA every year I feel I will be working till I'm at least 70. For that reason I'm sometimes sorry I wasn't aware or didn't pursue options in other areas of health care or lab work.
  • Has been a good career. I'm on the retiring end of my career. Made my own hours. Decent salary, but no benefits. Always had to get my own. Got out and did some volunteer work in my younger days. When I retire, will probably still try and attend local convention.
  • It was originally a good decision for many years and now I believe the profession has regressed. Doctors do not hire full time hygienists any more. They don't show commitment or value the intelligence of our role in the office. The progression of the hygienist has been backward. More is expected of us and there are no increases in salary for years. Very disappointed in the career at this point in my life.
  • I started my career when the profession was highly respected and there was a need for this type of professional. Dentists had more respect for what we could do and how educated we were. I have been fortunate to be able to choose where I wanted to work, and have been able to manage my career very well. I have been highly respected by employers and patients. Unfortunately, I don't believe the same experiences are offered to current hygienists, at least not in my geographic area.
  • I have loved dental hygiene since I was 17 years old. My parents would not let me go to school to be a hygienist. I returned to college as an adult after my children had graduated high school and put myself back through college to become a hygienist. I love being a hygienist. However, I am a little disappointed with the abundance of hygienists and the relationship we have with dentists. Some, not all, dentists control the work force, benefits, hours, and pay. I never thought they'd be able to ask me to punch out if a patient doesn't show or cancels. They give me half pay if I'm working in the office but not in hygiene capacity. I work three different offices to make a full time job without any health insurance, retirement, holiday/vacation pay. I still love hygiene, patients, patient education and making a difference in peoples oral health for overall health.
  • This profession has provided me the opportunity to learn something new every day and continues to keep me engaged as a professional.

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