January 30, 2021

How to be the Best Dental Hygienist

Levi Powell, a dental hygienist and 4th year dental student, talks about what will make you the top hygienist hire.

Cate Perino

Are you a dental hygienist looking for work? Want to know the secret to get hired? 

Ok, we’ll tell you, but you have to keep it between us. 

Grab a pen and listen up because we’re gonna give you the key to be the top hygienist hire... and only because you asked so nicely. 

Meet Levi the RDH and (almost) DDS

Meet Levi Powell. Levi was kind enough to speak with us at Whippy and give us the inside scoop on what dentists look for when they hire hygienists. Working as a RDH for over 3 years, and now being just a few months away from graduating as a DDS from USC, Levi was the perfect candidate to break down the RDH and DDS relationship. 

When speaking with Levi, his passion for dentistry and helping others was evident. He leaned forward as he told me about how his orthodontist was the one who inspired him to go into dentistry and was a great role model for him. He also shared how he decided to go back to school to become a dentist after a mission trip to Guatemala in 2016. Levi said he loved helping the people there, but his only regret was that he couldn’t do more, and he felt limited by his hygienist title. Levi came home from that trip, applied to dental school, and entered USC’s graduating class of 2021 a few months later. 

What are the main differences between a RDH and DDS?

Levi explained how the main difference between a hygienist and dentist is scope. Hygienists are trained to work in a preventive way and he said his hygiene education could be compared to a specialist being trained in cleaning. He says this has been a great benefit to his career as a dentist, and that this thorough foundation in disease control better prepared him in skill and confidence to become a DDS. He even told us that hygiene school, despite it being shorter than dental school, may have been the harder course load. (Definitely keep that part between us.)

What do dentists look for in a RDH?

Drumroll please. The secret to be the best dental hygienist is: communication. 

Everyone knows that communication is important, but it can actually be the factor that sets apart a good dental hygienist from a great one. Levi says that his communication skills have been the main reason for his success. Communicating effectively with patients, the dentist, and other staff is crucial for a dental hygienist. Most of the time, patients don’t fully understand what you’re doing to their teeth and gums, and communicating that clearly can give your patients a great sense of comfort. Taking the time to translate more complex words and procedures so patients can easily understand them is a sign of a knowledgeable and caring hygienist. Also, breaking down treatment decisions and payment options can give patients a better sense of control and trust in you and the practice. 

Behind communication, Levi shared some other golden characteristics to have as a dental hygienist. He said that being self aware is important. Sometimes patients don’t want to chat and would prefer a quick and quiet appointment. It takes a good dental hygienist to recognize these patients and alter your communication style accordingly. Don’t take it personally, it might just be hard for them to respond when you’re cleaning their molars. Be confident in your skills. Especially when you’re looking for new job opportunities, having a variety of skills and certifications can be a great asset to set you apart from the competition. Finally, being adaptable is another important aspect to be a top notch hygienist. Be open to learn new things and accept the challenges that each new day may bring. 

What do hygienists look for in a dentist?

It’s only fair to also consider what hygienists look for when accepting job positions from dentists. Both careers are highly valued and dependent on each other to do their job. Especially if hygienists know the secret to be the best, they may just have the power to pick and choose who they work for.  

Having worked at over 40 different offices as a hygienist, Levi has been hired by many dentists and gave us a good perspective on what makes a good and a bad boss. Levi was quick to decide that the best dentists to work for were the most organized dentists. Levi said the key to be the best dentist to work for is a good office system, detailed patient notes, and clear responsibilities. Nervous patients and apprehensive temporary hires appreciate this structure and control. Levi explained that organization makes the difference between a well-oiled machine and an office on fire (and he’s been in both). He also mentioned that a little heads up on those troublesome patients goes a long way. 

Levi appreciates that with Whippy, dentists can choose exactly who they want to hire, and dental hygienists can choose exactly who they want to work for. With our specialized reviews and ratings, you can decide what makes up your ideal hire and find the perfect candidate. 

So there you have it, the secret to being the most wanted dental hygienist, and the best boss. All in all, Levi said that every great dental hygienist and dentist he has met has been a kind and patient person who is willing to lend a helping hand. So all you have to do is be a generally good person and embody these golden characteristics. Just don’t forget to thank Levi when you’re drowning in job offers. 

Whippy connects top rated dental staff with local dental facilities in minutes. For more information on Whippy, go here!

Follow Levi on Instagram (@dentalguy_levi) to follow his dental school journey and beyond!

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