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2021 Hygienist Scholarship Award Recipient

Our 2021 scholarship award winner is Sirrah Brown. She is a 1st year student at Pierce College with a tenacious spirit and determination to reach her academic goals. Sirrah is a former dental assistant that is on the cusp of completing hygiene school while raising 3 young children. Being a working parent while getting accepted into a competitive program like Pierce is very impressive. Mothers of young children making it through hygiene school is a repeating theme amongst many of our scholarship award winners. Dental Connections admires what it truly takes to succeed under those circumstances. We are so proud of Sirrah and wish her continued success in her pursuit to become a dental hygienist. In her own words…”You will not come across a more devoted and determined student. Nothing will stop me from finishing this program.” We believe in you Sirrah.

Sirrah Brown at Pierce College

Together Again

Together again for the first time in 15 months! WFH is fun, but nothing replaces real in person relationships. I want to commend my staff for going above and beyond since the reopening last May. Through all the ups and downs we have stuck together as a team and are stronger than ever. I am so grateful to have an amazing team that makes Dental Connections great.

Top row left to right: Shanan, Cyndy, and Tammy. Bottom row left to right: Ashlan, Ryan, and Alicia. Not pictured: Vannara who is on maternity leave until September.

2020 Hygienist Scholarship Award Recipient

We have awarded a scholarship to Lupita Ramirez-Kim. Lupita currently attends Pima and is graduating in spring 2021. She has been a dental assistant since she was 18 and attending hygiene school has been a lifelong goal. Lupita has managed to be an exemplary student respected by her peers and instructors all while raising 3 young children. Anyone who has completed hygiene school can attest to how rigorous and challenging it is even if you do not have children. We are so proud to give this award to her and look forward to seeing her thrive as a dental hygienist. Congratulations Lupita!

Temp of the Year Awards

There are three little words that are the secret to success in our profession. They embody the difference between an average dental professional and an exceptional one. The words are “and then some”.

Exceptional dental professionals in any practice do what is expected…and then some. They are thoughtful and supportive of others; they are considerate and kind…and then some. They can be counted on in emergencies…and then some.

Dental Connections is thankful for people like China Kesterson, Amy McLamore, and Vanessa Manolopoulos (RDHs), Ally Jenkins, Lori Johnson Dillard, and Tina Ta (RDAs). Their dedication, professionalism, and service have earned them our Temp of the Year Awards for 2020.

A sincere thank you to ALL of the temps that have worked for us this year. We appreciate you very much.

Working Abroad as a Dental Hygienist

I was excited to start my career and simultaneously pursue my passion for travel. I decided to work as a temp for Dental Connections full time for the flexibility to travel every few months. I would work all around the Seattle area, gaining knew knowledge and experience working in different demographic areas. Every few months I would take off and go backpacking for as long as my budget would allow before coming back and repeating the process. A little over a year later, I decided I wanted to move to central Europe to hopefully work and travel on a more balanced schedule. My search for Dental Hygiene abroad was a challenge. The first time I expressed interest in working internationally as a Hygienist was in school and lead to a couple of dead ends. Online, my research came up with outdated information or volunteer opportunities only. Using networking skills I finally met a Hygienist who worked in Switzerland in the 80’s. She said she no longer had a contact for me abroad but suggested asking on a Dental Hygiene Facebook page. That very same day I posted on Facebook and thankfully got a message from an RDH working in Germany. Three weeks later I was on a plane with two suitcases and my cat, Alfred. I had never visited Germany before and did not know a single person living there. My passion for travel and my support at home gave me the courage to take the leap blindly. I never spoke on the phone or had a video call with the office, all communication was via email. It was quite the risk. It was also the best decision I have ever made.

Once I arrived in Germany I had ninety days to obtain a work visa and residence permit. On top of the paperwork for the immigration office, I also had to find a place to live, a phone, a bank, a car, insurance, taxes etc. There is so much that goes into moving to another country besides obtaining residency there. In Germany and multiple other countries Dental Hygiene is not a recognized profession, meaning there are no accreditation standards or programs. This allows Hygienists licensed in the United States to obtain work in these countries as long as their license stays active in the U.S. In Germany specifically, there is a large U.S. military community who have family members needing care. This helps with the language barrier. I did not know any German upon arrival. Depending on where you are working and your patient demographic, you may need to take German classes to become fluent once you arrive.

Working in Germany and other countries who have not previously focused on preventative care can be extremely rewarding. Immersing yourself in a new culture will forever change you. I know hygienists who have moved to Germany with their children, spouses and animals. I met the love of my life in Germany and married him there. During my time abroad I travelled to 32 new countries and made a lifetime of memories. Living in Europe taught me to slow down and to focus on health.

Were you aware of the possibility to work as a Dental Hygienist abroad? If barriers such as seeking employment or finding relocation resources are provided for you, would that be the assistance you need to take the leap? If you have a passion for travel along with Hygiene and living abroad is something you’re interested in, please let Dental Connections know. Maybe we can help.

Casey Thornton RDH in Germany

Interviews in the Post-Pandemic World?

A strange day at Dental Connections in our Seattle office. Moving some desks and equipment home since the entire team now works remotely. We started this office from scratch in 2007 with no clients. Through hard work and determination, this little office grew and grew to be very successful. Many of you have visited us at this location on Lake Union. We were doing Zoom interviews already before the pandemic made them cool. They work well and are highly efficient, but nothing replaces a face to face meeting to build real relationships. If you are reading this post we have a question for you. When all this madness is behind us will you ever want to do meetings with colleagues again face to face? We certainly hope so. This office is not closing for good it is just temporarily shuddered. Hopefully personal touch and in person relationships are still valued in the post pandemic world.

Empty reception area in our Seattle office.

2020 RDH Salary Survey

Dental Connections and the Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association (WDHA) have partnered since 2008 to produce accurate, comprehensive, and current statistics about dental hygienist wages and benefits in dental offices. The answers to this survey are completely anonymous and reflect a large sample set of workers providing the most up to date and accurate statistics available anywhere. Dental Connections and the WDHA have zero influence over the respondent’s answers and do not use this information for profit.

Before reading the results, we want to point out some key observations and historical trends:

• This survey combines ALL types of hygienists: traditional, restorative, part time, full time, experienced, new grads, etc. Restorative RDHs make more than traditional RDHs. Full time workers receive better benefits than part time workers. Take this into account while analyzing the statistics.

• By most measures the greater Seattle area is in its 5th year of an extreme shortage of RDHs. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem due to large cohorts of workers not returning to their jobs yet and current workers seeking hazard pay compensation. This has driven wages up even more dramatically due to basic supply and demand principles.

• Historically, experienced professionals that have spent more time in a single practice are compensated higher for loyalty. This trend is changing because of the shortage. North King County currently has a $54/hour average, but recent job offers in 2019-2020 have been above that average due to the market factors discussed above.

• 18% of respondents are part time workers and this has a dramatic effect on the benefit statistics. The benefit percentages are lower as a result of the part time workers reporting lesser benefits.

Before determining whether an hourly rate is fair, consider all important factors: location, hygiene role performed, experience level, type of practice, and benefits (which can add approximately $5-$15/hour to the compensation package). Dental offices weigh these factors before making a job offer or negotiating a raise for existing staff.

When we counsel dental professionals about a compensation package the most overlooked portion is benefits. There is a tendency to only focus on the hourly wage and there is a lack of education about how much the employer is spending on benefits. Colleagues discuss how much they are making per hour because it seems the most relevant. It may not be as exciting to say “I get 3 weeks of paid vacation and a 3% contribution to a 401k”. Our advice to both employees and employers is to make sure they have a full understanding of the total compensation package and shift the focus away from the hourly rate by itself. Lastly, being treated fairly and being happy at a job is always worth more than a couple dollars an hour.

Download PDF version of the results below. Please contact if you have any questions or comments.

Please Join WDHA

What do YOU want?

Stay Current? Research, public policies, and other issues that may affect your professional life?

Save Money? Free/low cost resources: insurance, travel, scholarships & awards and much more!

More, New Friends? Ones who really understand what you are going through in your professional life!

How can you do all 3 for very little financial obligation? Join Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association!

Membership in the Association provides three (3) levels of support to professionals: National, State, and Local at very little cost. Dues are prorated based on when you join. (See

NATIONAL: American Dental Hygienists Association, “is advocating for the profession at the highest levels to make sure our interests are represented in legislation and public policy”. The website is your portal to many useful resources which are included in your membership.

STATE:  Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association: “State chapters connect you with education, advocacy and licensure details to keep you current and compliant”. The WDHA website is your resource for what is happening in Olympia and connects you with Association leadership.

LOCAL: Local components “in your community support you with actions and activities that make a difference for patients and the practice right where you live”. You can select your component based on where you live, work or whereever else you might want to be, in the state next door or across the country. 

We can’t wait to meet you! Join Now!

We are looking forward to helping you get involved in things that can make a big difference in your professional life!

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Please Participate in the 2020 RDH Salary Survey

Please take the 2020 RDH Salary Survey. We offer this survey annually in conjunction with the WSDHA. Once we gather enough responses results will be available hopefully in 4-6 weeks. Please click the link below. Takes 1-2 minutes 👍💰

Volunteering at Seattle King County Clinic

The annual free Seattle King County Clinic was a huge success. Ryan Downing, Sara Downing, Tammy Smith, Alicia Jardine, and Valerie Jean all participated in sterilization for the dental unit. It was amazing to see our local dental community come together for this 4 day event.

Lots of hygiene and restorative happening all at once
Alicia Jardine and Tammy Smith
Sara Downing RN and Ryan Downing
Valerie Stewart and Alicia Jardine
Dental Connections is a dental employment agency offering temporary and permanent placement services for dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and business staff. We are more than just a temp agency because all of the dental professionals we represent are screened with a personal interview. Half our business is dedicated to permanent placement. Our service area is all of Western Washington, with most jobs in the following cities: Everett, Lynnwood, Seattle, Bothell, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton, Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, Puyallup, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Bremerton, Olympia, and Centralia.