3 Common Challenges Hygienists Face (and Solutions to Fix Them)
Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH
3 Common Challenges Hygienists Face
(and Solutions to Fix Them)
Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH
Dental hygiene is one of the best careers when it comes to work-life balance and competitive pay. But it isn’t without its own challenges. Here are the top three issues that hygienists tend to deal with at work and what can be done to address them.
Challenge #1: Disgruntled Coworkers
A rift in the dental team can make your workplace hell on earth. It might be a fellow hygienist whose “turf” you’re imposing on or an assistant that doesn’t like the way you do things. And let’s be real, sometimes even us, the hygienists, may be the problem.
Do your part to be a team player. If you’re between patients, help with changing over rooms or processing instruments. The more you help out your fellow team members, the more they’ll feel valued. In turn, you will also earn their respect. Being a pleasant person to be around can win over some sour apples.
Depending on your office manager or dentist’s preferences, personal issues are either best worked out between the two individuals or with the help of the manager. If the manager or dentist is the main problem, it may be time to start looking for a new job.
Challenge #2: Unhappy Patients
Every office has them. Grumpy patients who don’t want to be there, don’t listen to your recommendations or flat out reject their care plans. Maybe they show up late, spend an extra five minutes in the bathroom, and then take their time getting seated. They mess up your entire day, every time they visit. Oh, they also wait to mention all of their concerns until the dentist walks in at the end of their appointment.
Smiling, connecting, and being nice to other people helps in most cases. Focusing on the patient experience can significantly change your patient’s attitude. But if they continue to be a challenge, it’s no longer your concern. The office manager and/or dentist will need to address the patient directly or possibly even dismiss them from the practice.
Don’t forget to document, document, document. Trying to schedule these patients at specific points in the day and earlier than you actually plan to seat them.
Challenge #3: Physical Pain
Being a dental hygienist is literally a pain in the neck…and wrists, shoulders, back, etc. Posture, stretching, and exercise are extremely important if you want to be able to stay in your career for more than five years. If you’re moving in an atypical manner over and over every day, the physical toll will eventually become too severe to manage.
Remember that good ergonomics and instrumentation are crucial. The chair you use, how sharp your instruments are, utilizing loupes and a lightweight headlight can help alleviate the physical toll that hygiene takes on your body. When you’re able to do the same job in a more relaxed physical state, you’ll feel the difference for yourself.
Being a team player who respects other people—and looks after their own physical wellbeing—is essential to a productive dental practice!
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