How Dental Hygienists Should Ask For A Raise

When asking for a raise, dental hygienists should be tactful, well-informed, and always professional, no matter the outcome.
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Dentist and hygenist talking

Asking for a salary raise in any situation can be daunting. Add in an unstable economy and it becomes downright terrifying. But do not be put-off! There is no black-and-white approach when it comes to this issue. In fact, it depends entirely on your situation and the dental office.

Though you don’t wish to be the hygienist who survived mass layoffs and furloughs only to turn around and request for a salary raise, you also don’t want to be severely underappreciated or underpaid.

If you feel that your hourly pay could be adjusted a bit, then you are well within your rights to seek an audience with your employer. Use the tips we discuss below to ensure a fruitful salary raise negotiation.   

And for the full story about maximizing your income as a dental hygienist, check out our complete guide to this exciting career!

1. Approach The Topic Gracefully

Start by admitting that times are hard. Say something like, “I know it is not a discussion to have right now; however, here is what I have accomplished so far,” advises David Ginchansky, a professional and career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

You will have to show the value that you have added to the practice, above and beyond your daily responsibilities. Read your job description carefully to identify the extra duties and roles that you have assumed. Ask yourself, “What employer expectations have I surpassed?”

In short, you should note any undertakings that have benefited the dental office through boosting productivity, saving costs, or implementing new business processes, along with any input you made that was more than your job demands. They say actions speak louder than words; thus, ensure you have solid evidence to support your claims. 

2. Let Your Employer Know What’s In It For Them

When negotiating for a salary raise, your employer does not care about your vacation requests or your pending mortgage payments. Your employer wants only to know what’s in for them.

You have already outlined what you have done, but you also need to spell out your plans for the dental office. Make a presentation of your goals, how those goals will benefit the dental office, and how you will attain those goals. You should only request a raise if you really deserve it—not just because you need it.  

3. Know In Advance What A Competitive Salary For Hygienists Looks Like

One of the main reasons why a hygienist or any dental staff would ask for a salary raise is because they are presently underpaid. Ask your colleagues in other dental practices what they are making. In addition, visit sites like,, and to see how your salary compares.

Another place to confirm dental salaries is your state’s employment department website. Most states have a breakdown of salaries for occupations based on the specific city or county. You can also check out recent dental classified advertisements to see the benefits, pay scale, and bonus structures being offered in other practices. Knowing the typical wages in your field and what other hygienists in your city earn will help your case. Hygienist salaries vary significantly from city-to-city, as well as county-to-county and state-to-state.

Besides location, consider how many years you have practiced as a hygienist and how long you have worked for your employer. These factors will help establish where you fall in the range. But note: when you are negotiating, don’t be greedy or cocky. If you have only served at an entry-level role for a year or two, waiting for a substantial raise, a hefty bonus, or prestigious promotion is perhaps unrealistic unless you truly outdid yourself. In other words, going into salary negotiations with a sense of entitlement might actually hurt your chances.  

4. Consider Negotiating Benefits, Bonuses, And Perks

A raise doesn’t always have to be in the form of money. Before entering into a negotiation, consider other areas you may be willing to negotiate, such as flexible work hours, tuition reimbursement, or vacation time. You may also consider bargaining for a more prestigious title or even a week at a hygienist conference happening in another state or foreign country. 

If perks and benefits are more preferable to you than money, you may prioritize that in your negotiation pitch. And still, even if you prefer money, keep a few possible perks or benefits in your back pocket in the event that the boss declines a monetary raise. 

5. Provide Your Raise Request In Writing

Perhaps your boss has other stakeholders with whom they have to talk to about your salary raise request. Have a handout ready that summarizes your request, similar pay ranges, and the benefits the practice derives from your efforts.

In that handout, also document ways that you have improved the hygiene department and relevant patient reviews that you have collated during your self-appraisal. Provide numbers where possible. Data moves people and your boss is no exception.

After The Raise Request

There is a possibility that your boss might be unresponsive to the raise idea during that initial meeting. In most instances, they might need some time to discuss your request with other decision-makers before getting back to you. It is advisable to ask for a time frame when the final decision will be made. You can ask something like, “Is it OK if I check back with you two weeks from today if I haven’t heard anything?”  

What's more, be prepared for an absolute no. A negative response can be based on factors you have no control over or know nothing about. If that happens, inquire what else you can do to be considered for a raise in the future. A good dentist or dental practice owner will furnish you with the reasons for declining your request and advise how you can improve your prospects for better wages in the future.

If you get a positive response, maintain your professionalism. Remember to express your gratitude. Affirm your desire to continually look for ways on how you can help grow the practice. It is also vital to maintain good relationships with your colleagues. If you boast to others about your salary raise, your boss might regret helping you and might decline your future requests.

Keep in mind that asking for a pay raise can be uncomfortable and nerve-racking, but there is nothing to lose by trying. Sometimes dental office owners only need to be reminded of how valuable you are. 

Written By Cloud Dentistry