Day in the life of
Registered Dental Hygienist – Calandra Farley
My name is Calandra Farley. I am a Registered Dental Hygienist and have been for over 10 years now. I work clinical 4 days per week as a Dental Hygienist and I run a blog about dentistry HygienistOpinion.com.
I have an associates of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene, but one can also obtain a bachelor’s degree.
My Typical Day
I work in a small corporate office 4 days per week. I typically see one patient per hour and I have lots of autonomy and control over my schedule. I usually see about 7-8 patients per day.
My day can vary widely and is very patient education centered.
Just this week I discussed periodontal disease, proper flossing, tooth replacement options, whitening, oral cancer, and sleep apnea with patients that I saw. And the list goes on.
- I sit down, I work in an air-conditioned environment
- I get to educate people.
- I meet a variety of individuals from different backgrounds and actually have discussions with them about their expertise, I learn SO MUCH from my patients.
- I do something I love and am passionate about
- I have an excellent work-life balance and have traveled extensively because of that
- There are opportunities for expansion
- The pay is decent
- Dentistry is not united and for that reason, you may have to jump through some hoops if you decided to move to a different state and still practice. And, there are different rules for each state. But, this is slowly changing and hopefully will be gone soon.
- It’s extremely important to practice good ergonomics, which most of us forget the second we leave school. But, the repetitive motions and awkward positions have the potential to cause body breakdown very quickly if not.
Advice to aspiring Dental Hygienists
GET EXCELLENT GRADES!! Also, consider shadowing, volunteering, or working at a dentist’s office in your area. This can give you some valuable insights into the world of dentistry.
Before deciding on a career in dentistry, know yourself. Being a dental hygienist is CUSTOMER SERVICE! But, with an insane amount of scientific knowledge. You know when you call a service provider, and you get that just right person on the phone who is pleasant, knowledgeable, helpful, and gives you a discount? That’s basically what I do every day, but with a little ASMR thrown in also.
As a hygienist, you’re a scientist, a teacher, a friend, a caregiver, a detective, and a student all at the same time. Be prepared to give of yourself, all day, every day.
If giving and patient care are not your thing, you should not become a dental hygienist. But if you love people and you want an impactful way to make a difference in their lives in ways more significant than they even understand, then it’s a beautiful career!
Another thing to think about, the DH program is not a “nights and weekends” “go at your own pace” kind of deal! You go to school when THEY tell you to go to school. So, you must consider your current family situation and be prepared to make some adjustments.
DH school can be expensive. Some schools require students to pay for more than others do. ASK QUESTIONS before you get into a program. Depending on the program, you may be looking at expenses in the $1000s beyond what you already paid for tuition and books. This might include instruments, tools, clothing, test prep classes, etc. Ask about this upfront when you are considering which schools you want to apply to, and be prepared ahead of time.
One other thing to consider, state and national boards will cost about $1200-$1500 after you are finished with school, and this is the only way to get a license to practice dental hygiene. Consider carefully which clinical board exam test will take. Some of them are regional, which is fine if you will stay where you are and don’t plan to move to a different part of the country. If you move, you may end up taking the exams all over again. The ADEX exam is accepted in the greatest number of states currently.
Last tip, enjoy dental hygiene school. Some of my classmates stressed themselves so much, but we all got the same degree in the end. RELAX
One of the best things about being a dental hygienist is the excellent work/life balance it can provide you! I have traveled to many countries all over the country and the world because my career allows me to take time away from work and go live my life!
clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop x rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.