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Dental Hygienist Salary Trends 2022-2031

Dental hygienists who can encourage your patients to book their next appointment are the key to increasing your dental practice income.

Instead of pushing them to see more patients, focus on enabling them to build strong relationships. That trust will lead to increased income through more appointments and fewer cancellations.

Dental hygienists who have the best people skills can increase their own salaries. And the dental practice they work for won’t even mind because their profits will more than pay for it!

Where Do Dental Hygienists Get Paid the Most?

Did you know that dental hygienists in some states make as much as 3.5 times more? So a dental practice in Alaska or California pays much more than an office in Alabama or Ohio.

Interestingly, dental hygienist salaries do not correspond to the locations where dentists earn the most or least.  Alaska is not even in the top 20 for dentist pay. And California barely makes it at #20.

This disparity most likely reflects the availability of dental hygienists in a particular area. Dental practices could take advantage of this when choosing a location for a new office.

Or they could advertise for dental hygienists in other areas and encourage them to move where needed.

Why Are Some Dental Hygienists Paid 3.5 Times More?

Another explanation for why dental hygienists make more money in some locales is the difference in laws governing their work.

For example, in Texas, hygienists only work under the supervision of dentists. But in 42 states, they can offer direct access care if they meet all requirements.

Owning your own oral hygienist office could greatly increase income potential in states that permit more extensive work to be done independently of a dentist.

Practices that make dental hygienists a core part of their continuing care team increase their incomes. And their dental hygienists are better paid due to their contributions to the profitability of the practice.

Where Are US Dental Hygienists Paid the Most and Least?

Where are dental hygienists paid the most in the US?
Where the dental hygienists paid the least

Image Sources: Dental Care Alliance

Why Do Dental Hygienists Make So Much Money?

Dental hygienists are required to attend college for a minimum of two years. According to Zippia, 25% of hygienists have a four year college degree and average $9,000 a year more in salary.

Extensive training, licensing, and regular renewals are required. After 26 years experience, Denise Bundy wrote:

“The National Board exam is extensive (it was a 7 hour written exam when I took it) and then regional practical (with an approved patient) exam. You have to be licensed in each state with very little reciprocity between states.”

Although it may seem like a lot of money, many positions do not include any retirement, benefits, or even dental coverage.

Many ask whether hygienists or nurses make more money. Their salaries are very similar. Which earns more depends on where they work and their duties and skill level.

Dental Hygienist Job Outlook

The US Department of Labor Statistics updated their dental hygienist job outlook numbers to 9% growth between 2021 and 2031.

The duties of a dental hygienist are expanding beyond tooth cleaning responsibilities. Some consultants even recommend avoiding talking about “cleaning” in favor of more expansive wording.

For example, Dental Consultant Debra Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, points out that hygienists are in the best position to pre-schedule patient appointments.

Life Balance and Health Vs Salary

A career as a dental hygienist appeals to many employees with families who prefer to have flexible schedules or work part-time.

They may be willing to make less money to dedicate more time to other priorities. Also, the physical demands of hygienist work can take a toll on the employee’s back, arm, hand, and wrist.

Because of all these reasons, many dental hygienists choose to work part-time. Consider their value to your practice over the number of hours worked or cleanings scheduled.

How to Make Dental Hygiene a Profit Center

Seidel-Bittke lays out a full strategy to make dental hygiene a profit center. Her vision of how hygienists can contribute to the bottom line can benefit both hygienists and dental practices.

She emphasizes the importance of giving your dental hygienists time to become a brand ambassador for your services.

Hygienists often see your patients quarterly. The relationships they build lead to increased trust. They are in the best position to schedule follow-up appointments in advance.

And they can also talk to your patients about the importance of following the treatment plans laid out for them. They can be a key reason patients show up instead of canceling.

Ready to Profit More from Dental Hygiene Services?

Seidel-Bittke’s vision of what hygienists can advise on is quite advanced. It is worth considering whether your dental practice has hygienists that qualified.

You might prefer to have the dentist decide what the hygienist should recommend regarding future procedures.

Regardless of how a hygienist or practice decides to expand their offerings, it makes sense to increase profitability. And that can increase pay for the entire team!

Increase your value as a dental hygienist by learning marketing tips on my blog.


About the Author - Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan is the CEO and founder of what most of us affectionately refer to as the “DMG.” From all circles within the dental industry who address dental marketing as a topic, Justin Morgan is the dental marketing guy that everyone keeps talking about.

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