Lifestyle, Career

10 Qualities of a Great Hygienist

By Jasmine Williams, RDH, BSDH, MHA on September, 4 2019
Jasmine Williams, RDH, BSDH, MHA

Jasmine is a traveling registered dental hygienist, clinical educator, speaker and influencer with a passion for inspiring, mentoring, and empowering current and future health care professionals.

The personalities and characteristics of dental hygienists can vary greatly, but successful practitioners share some common traits. Here are 10 qualities that help make a great dental hygienist:

1. Empathy
Great hygienists have empathy for the pain, discomfort or concerns of patients. Responding with empathy requires hygienists to be able to put themselves in their patient's shoes, acknowledge their problems, and demonstrate that they understand their feelings. Providing comfort through compassion and empathy is one of the best methods for effective patient care.

2. Attention to Detail
As a hygienist, each one of our job duties requires precision and focus to maintain the health and safety of patients. The documentation of inaccurate patient medical history, symptoms or medications can result in serious consequences. A great hygienist is careful not to skip steps or make errors.

3. Optimism
A great hygienist has the ability to inspire patients with optimism. If nothing else, most patients would prefer not-so-great news about their oral health to be delivered with at least a hint of hope. Optimism helps patients to respond better to oral hygiene instructions and suggestions for improved oral health outcomes.

4. Communication Skills
A great dental hygienist has excellent communication skills that include speaking and listening. A career in dental hygiene requires effective conversation with patients from diverse backgrounds and age groups. It’s super important to be able to relay critical information to patients in a clear and relatable way. Also, listening is important for understanding their needs and expectations.

5. Flexibility
Flexibility is a key quality for a great hygienist. Our career is ever-changing and hygienists must be willing to cooperate with last-minute modifications to schedules, patient treatments and responsibilities. A great hygienist is flexible about working later than expected or on an off day, if needed.

6. Interpersonal Skills
A great hygienist has excellent interpersonal skills and can work well in various situations with many different types of people. Working well with other hygienists, dentists, assistants and other staff members is necessary for effective patient care and a positive patient experience.

7. Confidence
Strong confidence helps build respect and trust with patients and colleagues. As hygienists, we’re very knowledgeable but we may not have the answer to everything. Even in uncertainty, it’s important to have the confidence to seek out appropriate help or advice in order to provide patients with the most accurate information and treatment.

8. Problem-Solving Skills
A career in hygiene requires quick thinking to address preventive issues as soon as they appear. As a hygienist, problem solving is critical for improving serious oral health conditions. A great hygienist is always prepared with solutions in order to comfort patients, or communicate successfully with the dentists or other staff.

9. Respect
Respect is a key trait of a successful hygienist. It’s critical to respect the requests, needs and wants of every patient at all times. A respectful hygienist follows all patient confidentiality rules and regulations, and interacts respectfully with patients and co-workers of different cultures and beliefs to maintain positive interactions.

10. Sense of Humor
Dental hygiene is a career that has its challenges, but a great dental hygienist is able to find humor in the most difficult situations to eliminate stress and provide the best quality of care. A healthy balance of fun and work is important for a successful and long-lasting career as a hygienist.

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