Clinical Dental Hygienist
Working alongside a dentist is the most common setting for dental hygienists. For new dental hygienists, the clinic setting provides a number of assurances, such as an environment to develop their skills and the ability to hone technical and service capabilities. There can be employee benefits and the job security that comes with being an employee of a practice rather than being self-employed.
Clinical Independent Practice
Dental hygienists have the ability to work independently from dentists. This requires independent dental hygienists to attract and maintain their own clientele. While challenging, the independent pathway offers dental hygienists a level of freedom that is unavailable at most dental offices.
Dental hygienists, especially those with an interest and experience in program planning and implementation, have the ability to work within the community’s public health unit. In addition to providing the traditional oral health assessments and preventive services, dental hygienists in this field also develop and administer oral health programs, presentations, and educational awareness strategies. They can also participate in health fairs, trade shows, and public health conferences.
The corporate setting provides several different avenues for dental hygienists. Considering their training and expertise in both the health and clinical aspects of oral care, dental hygienists bring a unique perspective to sales and marketing teams that specialize in dental products. Additionally, within many of the settings that deal with oral care or dental products, dental hygienists also have a wealth of administrative positions available to them. Their knowledge and understanding of oral care allows them to engage with health-care professionals, clients and customers in specialized and technical topics.
Education and Research
Dental hygienists with a passion for higher learning often find themselves in various educational settings. Most of the educational and research positions require at least a bachelor’s degree (some require a graduate degree). Since quality teachers and researchers are essential for advancing the dental hygiene profession, these career options are in high demand. While researchers help shape the future procedures, practices, tools, and methodologies used in the field, teachers educate and develop future dental hygienists.
Product Development and Distribution
One option for dental hygienists who are currently in undergraduate or graduate studies is to get involved in a laboratory. Whether it’s for product testing, the fabrication of dental products, or the distribution of dental and oral care products, dental hygienists are sought out by labs and product distributors for their specified and regulated training of both the scientific and medical aspects as well as their clinical and practical experience.
Other Health-Care Settings
There are a number of additional health-care settings that provide outlets and career opportunities for enterprising dental hygienists. The number of long-term care facilities are steadily growing to house Canada’s aging population and proper oral care is important at any age. Many hospitals work contractually with independent dental hygienists, whereas others may have their own in-house oral care programs or departments.