Welcome to todays post where I’m going to be exploring how to make extra money as a dental hygienist so stick with me and you’ll have a plethora of income ideas in no time!
The role of a dental hygienist focuses on preventative oral health and patient education. As a dental hygienist, you help patients develop home care routines, remove tartar and plaque, take x-rays, and more during routine cleanings and exams. It’s a growing field projected to expand faster than average over the next decade.
Importance of supplemental income in today’s economy
While dental hygienists enjoy competitive salaries, earning potential varies greatly by region, office type, experience level and other factors.
Many dental hygienists seek part-time work or secondary income streams to achieve financial goals, build savings, pay off student loans, or supplement variable hours.
Purpose of the guide
This guide provides an overview of proven ways for dental hygienists to leverage their skills and credentials to earn extra income.
Whether you’re hoping to pad your savings account or wanting to explore new professional growth opportunities, there are many options to consider.
Maximizing Earnings in Your Current Position
Before exploring supplemental income opportunities, it’s a good idea to evaluate ways to expand your earnings at your existing job.
As an experienced, credentialed professional, you have negotiating power that can translate into higher compensation.
Negotiating a higher salary or benefits
Research average wages for your position, experience level, and geographic region. Arm yourself with benchmark data and make a case for why you warrant higher pay to match your workload, patient requests, specializations and other tangible contributions to the practice.
Perhaps there are additional benefits, like more PTO or flexibility, that are valuable for your work-life balance too. Even a small bump can impact take-home pay.
Seeking additional hours or shifts
Ask your employer about taking on extra shifts or extending hours during peak patient volume times, if a full schedule aligns with your personal life.
Some offices incentivize overtime with slightly higher hourly wages for hygienists willing to work extra weekends, evenings or seasons.
Continuing education and certifications for higher pay
Further specializations can elevate your skill set. Consider certifications in dental anesthesia, orthodontic assisting, dental radiography, oral pathology and more.
Discuss with your employer whether certain continuing education pursuits qualify for increased compensation once completed.
Referral bonuses and incentives
Referring new patients to a practice is tremendously valuable. If your office offers finder’s fees or kickbacks for referrals that convert to paying patients, be proactive in making professional introductions.
Hand out business cards to family, friends, neighbours and colleagues you meet at conferences and more.
Freelance Dental Hygiene Work
Leveraging your skills in a freelance or independent contractor capacity can offer flexibility and income growth potential.
Register with temporary staffing agencies that specialize in placing dental hygienists into short-term assignments.
Enjoy the variety of working at different offices and facilities while earning an hourly wage, typically 10-20% higher than permanent positions. Temping also helps expand professional connections.
Providing mobile dental hygiene services
Bring select dental hygiene services directly to patients in assisted living centres, schools, community centres, private homes and other field locations without a brick-and-mortar dental office.
Appointments may focus on cleanings, infection control, denture care, and oral healthcare education for caregivers or underserved groups lacking transportation.
Offering home care dental hygiene services
Specialize in dental services for at-homebound seniors, busy families or patients with disabilities preventing office visits.
Make house calls to provide mobile cleanings, infection education, denture care, fluoride treatments and personal oral hygiene instruction.
Working at events or health fairs
Showcase your expertise at community health fairs, senior centres, schools, or employee benefits events.
Provide basic dental screenings, answer oral health questions, give referrals to full-service care, and elevate your professional visibility.
Tele-Dentistry and Remote Opportunities
Leveraging technology to deliver virtual dental hygiene services and advice opens up income potential.
Offer secure video chat platform consultations to educate patients on proper homecare techniques for conditions like gingivitis or inverted/fractured teeth when an office visit isn’t feasible.
Virtual follow-ups provide helpful accountability.
Register with app-based startups linking dental hygienists to remote consultations with patients needing education, reminders, second opinions or post-procedure support without requiring office visits. Popular options include Toothpic and Smile Virtual.
Writing for dental blogs or publications
Draw on your clinical experience to pen guest blog content around prevention, nutrition, techniques, aftercare, and patient perspectives for dental office blogs or industry publications like RDH Magazine or Hygienetown. Typical posts pay $100-250.
Online dental hygiene tutoring or coaching
Teach via established eLearning platforms offering flexible part-time work. Provide 1-on1 video lessons for dental hygienist students prepping for board exams or skill certification tests. Total compensation potential from $500-$1,500 monthly.
Utilizing Your Skills Beyond Clinical Practice
Time to think creatively about applying your expertise in non-clinical ways as an additional revenue stream.
Register as an independent rep selling specialty oral healthcare goods to dentists’ offices in your region.
Products may span everything from electric toothbrushes to custom-fit night guards. Sales commissions vary based on item margins.
Dental hygiene consulting
Draw on your experience to provide training, quality assurance auditing, process optimization recommendations or other project-based expertise on a contract basis to corporate dental offices, equipment companies and oral health brands.
Public speaking engagements
Local libraries, community college adult education programs, senior centres and healthcare facilities may offer stipends for one-off educational talks about optimizing oral healthcare.
These engagements raise public profile while earning $200-500 per event.
Developing dental hygiene educational materials or courses
Leverage know-how around techniques, technology, patient psychology and bedside manner into online courses for emerging dental hygienists or supplemental materials for hygienist programs. Sell access or products through sites like Udemy or Teachable.
Creating Passive Income Streams
Build income sources that generate earnings over time without requiring ongoing labour, leveraging your expertise.
Publish and sell informative manuals, handbooks or essay collections around oral health niche topics on Amazon Kindle using your experience treating different patient cases.
Useful evergreen topics span techniques, nutrition, elderly care, paediatric advice etc.
Developing online courses or webinars
As referenced in the section above on educational materials, create video training, self-guided tutorials, or other virtual learning experiences for student hygienists.
Host on your own site or an eLearning platform, charging access fees.
Affiliate marketing for dental products
Earn commissions promoting relevant dental healthcare products or tools by sharing trackable links across your website, social channels or email lists.
Particularly effective for consumables like specialty toothpastes or at-home whitening kits.
Monetizing a dental hygiene blog or YouTube channel
Publish regular educational content around dental hygiene topics to establish yourself as an expert. Enable Google Adsense or other paid channel sponsorships.
Highly viewed YouTube tutorials can generate substantial income over time.
Investing in Additional Training or Certifications
Further developing your skills can open new career doors that provide income growth.
Pursue advanced certifications qualifying you to treat more complex cases.
Examples include anaesthesia administration, laser periodontal therapy, restorative procedures, tetracycline stain removal, implants, orthodontic assisting, paediatric care, geriatrics and special needs.
Becoming a dental hygiene educator
Leverage your patient-facing experience to train the next generation of hygienists. Positions span adjunct community college instructors to full-time university faculty roles directing dental hygiene programs. Both allow maintaining clinical practice hours.
Pursuing advanced degrees in healthcare administration or business
Expand credentials further with additional education in areas like public health, healthcare leadership, project management or marketing.
This can qualify you for higher-level operational or executive roles in major dental organization management, opening increased earning potential.
Tips for Success and Cautionary Advice
Some words of advice to help guide decisions expanding your income sources.
Be thoughtful about bandwidth and preventing burnout before overloaded with extra shifts or clients. Set boundaries and schedules allowing downtime to recharge. Know your limits, as health comes first.
Staying updated on industry trends and regulations
As you explore new opportunities, ensure any remote work, continuing education courses, or freelance services you provide meet legal, ethical and technical standards in this quickly evolving landscape of tele-dentistry and practice regulations.
Networking within the dental community for opportunities
Talk to dentists you respect and ask to be referred for local freelance gigs they hear about. Attend dental conventions and conferences when possible both to learn and exchange contact info with other dental professionals who may know of openings.
Being cautious of scams or illegitimate opportunities
Sadly, those seeking to take advantage of job-seekers exist in this industry too. Carefully vet any high-paying opportunities that seem too good to be true before providing personal information or paying any fees. Transparent communication is essential.
As shown throughout this guide, dental hygienists have impressive versatility and potential to supplement their clinical earnings in a variety of creative ways.
From negotiating higher compensation in your current role to monetizing your expertise through passive income streams, there are many proven options to generate supplemental income.
Further specializing through continuing education or exploring emerging tele-dentistry platforms can expand your skill set and income growth prospects.
Explore options and take proactive steps toward financial stability
Don’t leave money on the table if you enjoy aspects of dental hygiene but feel constrained by ceilinged wages.
Determine which of the many avenues outlined most appeals to your strengths and schedule availability, then proactively pursue it. Small consistent efforts compound over time.
Final thoughts on the versatility and potential of the dental hygiene profession
Whether fresh out of school or a seasoned veteran, remember that dental professionals are highly skilled, in-demand and offer invaluable services that directly impact quality of a persons life.
You have power to not only improve oral health but also income. Hopefully this guide has highlighted the possibilities so you can pursue work that’s rewarding in every sense.