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Being a dental hygienist is both rewarding and challenging. While many enter the profession excited about the opportunities to work with and help patients, too many find the stress of trying to reach targets and high volumes overwhelming.

dental hygienist satisfaction

According to an RDH survey, 45% of dental hygienists think appointments are too limiting and only 35% feel they have enough time scheduled to service and support their patients during the appointment. This is leading to a lack of overall satisfaction and burnout within the industry.

In fact, when asked to what extent they have feelings of professional burnout about their career, those surveyed responded:

  • 11% have no feeling of burnout

  • 23% rarely have feelings of burnout

  • 59% sometimes or often experience feelings of burnout

  • 7% always have feelings of burnout

While you can experience professional burnout in any line of work, dental professionals are more likely to experience it because they work under the strain of constant physical and mental exhaustion.


While the signs can take many forms, there are several signs of professional burnout that can be seen when a hygienist is moving towards dissatisfaction:

  • Skipping meals or eating snacks

  • Chronic lethargy and difficulty getting out of bed in the morning

  • Showing up late for work or dental office meetings

  • Avoiding dental office gatherings, events, or socializing with coworkers

  • Lack of concentration

  • Experiencing a lack of fulfillment or enjoyment in work

When dental hygienist burnout occurs you become distracted or too fatigued to work effectively, which puts additional strain on the rest of the team who must pick up the slack. It is ultimately the patients who suffer the most when a dental professional is burnt out at work.


There are several steps that can be taken, by both the hygienist and the dental practice, to help prevent professional burnout:

  • Make breaks non-optional -- giving hygienists time and a quiet place to relax multiple times throughout the day improves overall wellbeing, which in turn, allows the hygienist to provide better, more focused patient care

  • Ongoing training -- encourage ongoing education and training for the entire dental practice office and allow hygienists to participate in educational opportunities surrounding life-saving screens and protocols

  • Start the conversation -- a dental practice that fosters an environment of open and honest conversation is a happy and productive dental practice, so keep the door to conversations open and allow staff to voice opinions and concerns as well as share wins and information on new concepts and procedures

  • Allow time to treat and teach -- giving hygienists time to perform life-saving screens and teach patients not only helps to create a sense of job satisfaction, but it can also build stronger relationships with patients and help save lives

The shortest solution to preventing burnout for hygienists is to simply allow time for proper patient care. Giving hygienists the right amount of time to build a relationship with their patients and perform life-saving screenings gives hygienists a sense of job satisfaction. It also fosters the overall relationship with dental patients and helps to strengthen the health of the dental practice.


Ready to take your professional development and dental practice to the next level? Become a LifeGuard! A LifeGuard creates predictably higher levels of health and wellness in today's dental patients by:

  • Directing and focusing attention on the lifestyle, habits, and oral health of their pool of patients.

  • Acting as a patient advocate by developing relationships based on trust, communication, and respect.

  • Offering a LifeLine to patients through education that empowers and shifts behaviors.

Contact the LifeGuard Approach and discover how you can go from burnout to satisfaction!

hygienist career satisfaction


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