What Type of Hygienist Are You?

By Kendra Flowers, BSDH, RDH on October, 15 2018
Kendra Flowers, BSDH, RDH

Kendra has evolved from a dental assistant, clinical dental hygienist, dental hygiene educator, speaker and product reviewer. Her passion is in supporting exceptional dental professionals and expanding the scope of dental hygiene practice to increase quality of care to the public.

When I was child I wanted to be a music teacher, then an environmental scientist, and then a psychologist. When I started college, I realized I wanted to be none of those things.


I began to research different careers and ultimately decided I wanted to be a dental hygienist. I started off as a dental assistant and worked my way to a dental hygienist. I didn’t go through my childhood knowing what I would be and therefore didn’t spend years thinking about what kind of hygienist I would be.


But based on my own experiences in the dental chair, I knew what kind of hygienist I didn’t want to be. I had only visited the dentist a few times growing up, and every time I remember being reprimanded. I knew I wanted my own philosophy to reflect painless dentistry and empathy when providing clinical care.


Once I started hygiene school, my program required us to create our dental hygiene philosophy and decide what type of hygienist we would like to be. I took my philosophy assignment to heart and allowed it to direct my education. I focused on pre-clinic to guarantee painless instrumentation and pain control to maximize my local anesthesia.


I wanted my patients to have a good experience and return to the dentist without fear. Now, I pride myself on being the go-to hygienist for scared and fearful patients.


I know this is my niche, and I take the time to let my employers know what my strengths are and that I am open to those types of patients. I believe it is not only something I am good at, but that it’s also my duty as a healthcare professional.


Working with patients requires compassion, and we must not forget dental procedures are invasive and intimate for most. Those with unpleasant past experiences struggle to even step through the front door. It is our duty to treat the whole patient by providing quality care and ensuring patient comfort, both physically and mentally.


My personal clinical philosophy centers around patient comfort, but for some clinicians certain qualities or skills do not come naturally. It is important to be intentional in your clinical practice and decide what area you want to focus and excel in. Like all aspects of life, growth is required.


This may mean taking on more of the types of patients you wish to focus on and exploring those topics in your continuing education. Specialty areas may include children, geriatrics or implants.


Whatever area it is, you must be a professional. A professional is characterized by conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. It is exhibiting a courteous, conscientious and generally businesslike manner in the workplace. It is the skill, good judgment and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.


So, my question is what type of hygienist are you?

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