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Your Dental Hygienist Career: When You're The New Employee

Sep 27, 2016

Author: Sharon Boyd, RDH, BS

Here are some tips for communicating effectively with patients and coworkers, and how to integrate into your new office.

When you're beginning your dental hygienist career or changing practices, you may be faced with the challenge of convincing patients to see you instead of another hygienist, or of squeezing into a tightly knit team that has worked together for years. Fortunately, there are a few skills you can employ to make sure your adjustment is as smooth as possible. Here are some tips for communicating effectively with patients and coworkers, and how to integrate into your new office.

Communicate With Your Patients

You're the new face in the practice and everybody knows it. Be positive and understanding with your patients. After all, they may have been seeing the previous dental hygienist for years and have developed a trust in him or her. Treat each appointment as if it's part of a working interview. Look your patients in the eye, listen to what they have to say and make them feel important. Let them know how excited you are to attend to their oral health.

It's fine to acknowledge that you're the new provider, but move quickly onto the next subject, such as how happy you are to be working with such great dentists, or the fact that you practiced the last five years with a leading cosmetic dentist before relocating to a new town with your family. Spin the situation to the advantage of your dental hygiene career.

Communicate Positively With Your Coworkers

According to RDH Magazine, a positive attitude is an important part of what makes you a great member of a new team. Listen to what your coworkers have to say and treat everyone fairly. The 'Golden Rule' applies here too: Treat others as you'd want to be treated.

Steer clear of office gossip and stay honest and friendly with everyone. Your first impression will impact how well you fit in with the team months down the road. The last thing you want to do is bad-mouth a patient who turns out to be the dentist's great-aunt. There's a good chance that you might unknowingly get a "problem" patient on purpose just to test how well you handle the situation.

Lend a Helping Hand

Find out what the office protocols are for specific procedures. If you're not sure, ask the other hygienists what they would recommend in that specific situation.

Chip in and help whenever possible. Pick up the slack when you see someone falling behind in his or her schedule, so that you can show your team members you care about the office as a whole and making everyone's job easier. An RDH Magazine survey showed that effective teamwork was one of the biggest concerns in a dental hygienist career. Even if a task isn't your direct responsibility, ask how you can help.

Remember to be patient. It may be that your addition to the team isn't something that anyone expected. Show the team that your new office can't make do without you. With time, you'll have patients requesting you for their next checkup, even if you are the new dental hygienist on the block.


  • Address the topic of you being "new" with your patients, but assure them they'll be in good hands.
  • Keep a positive attitude and steer clear of office gossip.
  • Pick up the slack when other team members need assistance.

Why It's Valuable:

At some point in every dental hygienist career, you'll be the new one in the office. There are a few points to keep in mind when it comes to treating hesitant patients or fitting in with a team that's already been working together for years.

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