Have You Ever Considered Being a Dental Hygiene Temp?

By Amanda Fouts, RDH, BSDH on May, 4 2021
Have You Ever Considered Being a Dental Hygiene Temp?
Amanda Fouts, RDH, BSDH

I have over 10 years of experience in the dental field as a Dental Hygienist, Dental Hygiene Educator, Dental Assistant, and Sterile Tech. I am a Tennessee native who has developed strong roots in the dental community.

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 207,900 dental hygiene jobs in 2016. 

Also in 2016, almost all dental hygienists worked in dental offices, and more than half worked part-time. So is there a need for temporary dental hygienists for fill-in work as of now in 2021? That’s the question!

I graduated from Dental Hygiene school in 2012. After practicing full-time dental hygiene for over 5 years, I decided to take a risk and find out.

How I Jumped In
In May 2017, I went to a part-time position in an office only one day a week. That was a big change for me after commuting over an hour a day to work full-time, as well as almost every Friday and Saturday.

In the beginning I really liked it. After all, I needed a break. But after about two weeks, I was over my break and started to put my feelers out to see what offices needed part-time hygiene.

I realized quickly I had a lot of friends in the dental field who were very helpful. Networking is a huge part of dental hygiene. I’ve been involved in my local component, the Nashville Dental Hygienists’ Association, since I graduated hygiene school, and I developed great relationships through hygiene peers.

Facebook is a wonderful outlet if you haven’t made these face-to-face contacts just yet. Be sure to follow your local component page, and any temp work hygiene sites your city has to offer. There are great pages to follow if you’re trying to let people know you’re available and looking for hygiene work. Some states even have sites where you can upload your availability, and doctors or staff can easily access the site and reach out to you directly.

The Perks
After about three days of looking, I was back to full-time hygiene with some major perks. For example, if I was busy next Tuesday, I didn’t have to fill in. Making my own hygiene schedule was like a dream come true.

I began working at one office every Wednesday and Friday, reserving Tuesdays and Thursdays for my fill-in days, which stayed booked almost every week. I kept my Mondays free for overflow, or if someone needed a fill-in at the last minute.

In about a month, I was overflowing with hygiene work. I was getting calls every morning, every night and I was absolutely loving it! I could be as busy as I wanted to be. I could work six days a week one week and just two days the next week. The flexibility was such a reward.

Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all that easy to make myself known to offices at first, but after I visited offices and handed out my resume with my availability, my phone began to blow up. I had to even turn some offices down because I was already booked up for weeks.

I turned down several full-time positions in the year of 2017 just because I love the flexibility of how fill-in hygiene fits my lifestyle.

So to answer the question above, is there a need for temporary hygienists to fill-in?


According to RDH magazine in December of 2019, only 66% of dental hygienists are working full-time. That leads me to believe about 33% of dental hygienists are already taking advantage of the part-time opportunities in dental hygiene. You’ve worked hard for your career in dental hygiene, and always know there will be a need for hygienists. So take a chance if you’re feeling “burned out” or just need a change of scenery.

So if you’re a practicing dental hygienist new to the area, or maybe just need a break, definitely take the risk. It’s more than worth it!

The possibilities of what it can turn into are well worth the risk.


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