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Find Your Dental Hygienist Career Path: Tips for Recent Grads

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As a new graduate, there are lots of big decisions to make as you begin your dental hygienist career path. For so long you have been solely focused on completing dental hygiene school, but now you've reached that next crucial step in your journey. How do you make the transition from student to professional? Here is some advice on how to find your way in the real-world workforce of dental hygiene.

Choose the Type of Office and Schedule

As you approach graduation, it is natural to be anxious about finding a job. Oftentimes it can be challenging to land a position when there are limited job openings and an abundance of qualified dental hygienists. First off, think about what type of office you would like to work in and what type of schedule best fits your lifestyle. For example, how many hours do you feel comfortable working in a week? How far would you be willing to commute to your new workplace? Would you like to work in an upscale office that has the latest technology or would you like to care for low-income patients who urgently need dental care? It may be difficult to fully know the answers to all of these questions right away. You have a long career ahead of you, so answering these questions one way doesn't necessarily commit you to such for life. But as you start to consider all these scenarios, it will help you fine-tune your job search.

Find a Mentor ASAP

In the world of dental hygiene, it is easier to find your way when you can ask the advice of a seasoned dental hygienist. If you are concerned about whether a job offer is the right one for you, a mentor can definitely help you make this big decision. Finding a mentor is easier than you think when you know where to look. A good place to begin is your local dental hygiene association, or closed RDH groups on Facebook that allow you to post your questions or concerns. The Colgate Oral Health Advisor Facebook page is an excellent place to start, as it is a community of your peers who are happy to help you find your way.

Make Connections in the Dental Community

When you begin sending out resumes, it helps to know the right people. Get your name out there by subbing in as many offices as possible. Each time, you will meet many new people and learn how different dental offices work. Volunteering is also a great way to make connections while making a difference in your community. Lastly, make sure to take advantage of social networking. Ninety-three percent of potential employers use social media for recruiting, according to the Jobvite 2014 Social Recruiting Survey. Having a positive presence on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can help make you stand out from the competition.

Avoid These Pitfalls

When you are searching for a job, remember that sometimes the process can be lengthy. If you are offered a job, think about whether it is truly the right fit for you. It can be tempting to accept the first job offer you receive when you are eager to get into the workforce. If the opportunity requires you to work too many hours or see too many patients in a day, in the end, you may be causing permanent damage to your body. Don't settle for a job that you know won't work for you. Find the opportunity that is best for you.


  • Think about what you want and what's important about your future employer and dental office before you submit any resumes.
  • Find a mentor to guide you along the way.
  • Don't take the first job you are offered if you have any misgivings.

Why It's Valuable

The decisions you make when you begin your dental hygiene career can affect you for years to come. By knowing what you want and finding a mentor to guide you, you'll be better prepared for the transition from dental hygiene school to your new workplace.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.