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Dental hygiene – does it get better??

I’ve been out of school for about 5 months and I’m finding myself getting frustrated with my skills. I feel like I should be ahead of where I am and I’m not loving it. I thought after a few consecutive months I’d feel like I was getting into a groove but I’m not. It is almost like I forgot some basics of instrumentation and I’m not being effective with the cavitron and it is taking me too many strokes to get lower anterior lingual calc off. I’ve been trying to keep up on sharpening my instruments. I watch other hygienists who have been working for years and I wish I could be as accurate and efficient as them. I don’t want to quit the profession, I’m trying to hold out for at least 2-3 years before deciding if this is the right path and if I will ever be good at this job.

I absolutely love giving injections but not loving the hygiene aspect. I’m wondering if it is partly because I don’t feel confident in my skills.

Would love any thoughts or suggestions! Thank you!



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2 Answers

I’ve been practicing for just over a year & finally feel like I’m getting into a rhythm. I had to look up videos on how to sharpen, scaling tips & lots of other basic things. I think sometimes we get into the habit of hygiene school & private practice is no where near that. Even my body has adjusted more, for the first 6 months or so my shoulders, hands & back ached daily- I’m finally to the point where my posture is better & I dont feel like I’m dying every evening. I still think it will take me several years to be where I want to be but I’m definitely adjusting. I’ve heard some hygienists say it was around the 5 or 6 year mark before they felt like a “good hygienist” & I can totally understand why. Just stick with it! Somedays I love it & some days I hate it!

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I definitely don’t think 5 months is enough time to let your skills get to where they need to be. I have been practicing for almost 3 years and I still feel like my skills have room to improve. It is especially hard when you are first out of school because private practice is so different than school.

I struggled when I had my first hygiene job because the office I worked in didn’t have any real hygiene protocol (there was no hygienist in the office until I started), so I was a new hygienist trying to develop a hygiene process. I was very discouraged and thinking I also chose the wrong profession. That office ended up being horrible for many reasons, so I found a new job. The office I am in currently is thankfully a great office with an amazing hygiene department. It is me and one other hygienist, and I feel like my skills have really improved since I started there a little over 2 years ago. While I feel like my skills are better, I still have room to grow and I am not at the skill level I would like to be. Everyone I have spoke with has said it takes at least 5 years to get “in the groove” of hygiene and I would agree.

I would tell you to stick with it, 5 months isn’t very long in the hygiene world so you are still learning and adapting your skills as you go. I wish you the best and hope you become happy in your career!

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