Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 38 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to spur the demand for preventative dental services, which dental hygienists often provide. New and increasingly accurate technologies to help diagnose oral health problems are also expected to increase demand. For example, new tests use saliva samples that a hygienist takes to spot early signs of oral cancer.
As their practices expand, dentists will hire more hygienists to perform routine dental care, allowing the dentist to see more patients. Also, as the large baby boomer population ages and people keep more of their original teeth than previous generations, the need to maintain and treat these teeth will continue to drive the need for hygienists’ services.
Demand for dental services follows the trends in the economy because the patient or private insurance companies pay for these services. As a result, during slow times in the economy, demand for dental services may decrease. During such times, dental hygienists may have difficulty finding employment or, if they are currently employed, they might work fewer hours.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition