A dental hygiene profession offers women and men of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds exceptional career opportunities to work as clinicians, educators, researchers, consumer advocates, sales and marketing managers, editors, authors and consultants in an array of flexible work schedules.
The majority of dental hygienists are employed as clinicians with dentists in the private sector working in single and group dental practices. There is currently a strong demand for dental hygienists in both private and public sectors in regional and rural locations in most states of Australia, so considering a dental hygienist career would be a great idea.
Clinicians: Clinical dental hygienists must work under the guidance of a dentist, which can be in a variety of health care settings such as private dental offices, community dental clinics, schools, hospitals or nursing homes. Dental hygienists have the ability to work in specialised areas of dentistry that include aged care, special needs, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics and paedodontics. In some states a dental hygienist can be the owner of a dental practice, but they must employ a dentist and work under his or her guidance in the delivery of dental care.
Educator: Dental hygienists can apply the skills and knowledge from their work experience in teaching dental students and dental hygiene students in the university degree programs. This is a dental career avenue that can lead toward advanced degrees, such as a Masters degree or a PhD to qualify for a position as Professor.
Researcher: Dental hygienists have a significant role to play in establishing evidence-based dental hygiene procedures and products and their affects on the oral environment and systemic health. Research is a component of advanced degrees and can be conducted in the dental clinic of a practice or training program, or within a laboratory setting. As well, dental hygiene faculties at universities may also be involved in oral health research.
Consumer Advocate: Dental hygienists may come to concentrate their work on specific oral health implications that pertain to population-based issues such as diabetes, sleep apnoea, fluorides, childhood decay, etc. They stay well informed of the current research and activities to take on an active role of informing, educating and advising the public through health promotion using online, print, TV and radio media, as well an advisory role to the relevant government committees.
Sales and Marketing Manager: Dental hygienists can be employed by product and service companies in the dental industry to lead both professional and public marketing campaigns. The work involves building customer relationships, identifying and presenting the market and the customer requirements as well as organising and participating in trade exhibitions.
Editor/Author: Dental hygienists can apply their skills and knowledge toward informing and educating the dental profession on current issues, techniques and research. This position can involve a professional magazine, journal or textbook and requires writing skills, self-motivation, good organisational and time management skills (deadlines), attention to detail and creativity.
Consultant: Dental hygienists that have achieved a level of clinical efficiency in time management that combines effective business and patient-centred principles can choose to share their achievements with dental professionals as a speaker delivering educational courses and/or advising the individual dental practice through onsite consultations. Additionally, dental hygienists can be employed by dental companies to create and deliver educational material to healthcare professionals and the public as an Educational Consultant.
Statistics on the Australian labour market - dental hygienist, therapist, technician