Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists: Trends and Opportunities

dental hygienist jobs

No matter how much the world of dentistry evolves, dental hygienists remain in high demand, which allows for unique career opportunities. This blog will discuss emerging trends and opportunities—as well as potential challenges—for dental hygienists. 

Current Job Landscape 

The dental hygiene profession has seen tremendous growth throughout the years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienist jobs are projected to increase by 7% between 2022 and 2032, compared to an average 3% growth rate for other occupations. That’s more than 16,000 new RDH openings! Many of these positions will become available when hygienists leave the field or retire. 

Trends Shaping the Future of Dental Hygiene

  • Technology: Technological innovations are reshaping dentistry with advanced tools for diagnosing and treating various dental conditions. From laser dentistry to 3-D printing, hygienists can use cutting-edge technology to enhance patient care and treatment outcomes. 
  • Expanded Roles: The dental industry has expanded the scope of responsibilities for dental hygienists over the years. In some states, dental hygienists have more autonomy, allowing them to perform certain procedures without direct supervision from dentists. 
  • Freedom: Dental hygienists are looking for freedom regarding where and when they work. The rise of dental staffing platforms and dental temp agencies has allowed hygienists to take control of their careers. 

Opportunities for Dental Hygienists

  • Diverse Work Settings: Dental hygienists can work in various settings, from temping at new places to working full-time in non-dental clinical settings such as hospitals or educational institutions. The opportunities for dental hygienists allow for flexible career paths that align with their interests and preferences. 
  • Specialization: There are various specializations for dental hygienists, including pediatrics, orthodontics, or periodontics. This can unlock higher-paying job opportunities within the dental industry. 
  • Growing Demand: With the higher demand for hygienists in recent years, hygienists now have the opportunity to be in control of their careers more than ever. 

Future Challenges to Navigate 

  • Regulatory Challenges: State-specific regulations may present challenges for dental hygienists. Navigating regulations requires staying knowledgeable about the evolving laws and may even require seeking additional certifications and training. 
  • Workforce Shortages: With the growing demand for dental hygienists, a dental staffing shortage can put additional strain on RDHs, leading to increased workloads and potential burnout. Partnering with dental staffing marketplaces can help offices and professionals navigate shortages. 

The future is bright for dental hygienists, with evolving trends and a growing demand for their expertise. Embracing new technologies, taking advantage of new opportunities, and navigating potential challenges will help you reach your full potential as a dental hygienist. As the industry evolves, dental hygienists will be pivotal in promoting oral health and making significant contributions to the dental industry.