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Donate to Smiles Forever

Many of you know or have volunteered with Smiles Forever in Bolivia. Please consider donating to their fundraising campaign for 2022. Each dollar you donate goes directly to providing free preventive and restorative care to children in Bolivia! As a dental hygienist, I have always been passionate about preventative care for children, but as a new Mom, I am compelled to dedicate my life to this program. Children deserve to be cared for and to be loved. Dental care should be accessible and available to all. We are only able to provide free preventive and restorative dental care to children while simultaneously building our dental hygiene school at UPAL University because of donations. Please consider Smiles Forever when thinking about your end of year contributions. We are eradicating dental cavities and providing love and support where there is none. Please visit the online auction to make a donation

Sarah Bonck RDH

2021 Dental Hygienist Salary & Benefits Survey

Dental Connections surveys local dental hygienists on an annual basis to produce accurate, comprehensive, and current statistics about their wages and benefits in dental offices. The answers to this survey are completely anonymous and provide the most up to date and accurate statistics available anywhere.

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

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

• The greater Seattle area is in its 6th year of an extreme shortage of hygienists. The Covid-19 pandemic has made a bad situation even worse. There are cohorts of workers that have retired or not returned to the workforce for health concerns/childcare reasons. The average age of workers has decreased dramatically. Years of experience dropped from 15.85 in 2020 to 9.99 in 2021. That is a startling number. Maybe it is a one year anomaly or the older generation of hygienists will not return at all.

• The survey compares hourly rates in 2021 vs. 2020. Examining just one geographic segment in North King County reveals hourly rates have risen over 9% in a single year. The increases vary by geographic area, but all track a similar trend of upward pressure on wages.

• Historically, experienced professionals that have spent more time in a single practice are compensated higher for loyalty. This is no longer the case because the shortage and increasing wages has not plateaued yet. Dental hygienists are routinely accepting permanent job offers or temp jobs well above the average hourly rates of employed individuals.

• 21% of respondents are part time workers and this has a dramatic effect on benefits statistics. The benefits 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). Lastly, being satisfied in your job or with a loyal employee on a daily basis is always worth way more than a couple dollars an hour.

It’s Giving Season. Please Support Shoreline Dental Hygiene Program.


Challenge Grant: $500,000
Raised to Date: $ 258,205

Campaign ends 12/31/2021 at Midnight … and the clock is ticking…

Your support will make a difference!

WHY CONTRIBUTE? • Dental hygienist positions in Washington remain open an average of 4 months. • For every hygienist seeking a position, more than 4 positions are now available. • Open positions for dental hygienists in King and Snohomish counties totaled more than 550 at survey time. • Your contribution will help build the dental hygienist work force and improve access to oral health care in Washington State.

WHERE DOES YOUR CONTRIBUTION FIT? Shoreline Community College and the University of Washington School of Dentistry have formed a partnership to sustain and expand dental hygiene education. The ARCORA Foundation donated $1million outright and an additional $500,000 matching grant in support of that goal. Now comes the challenge of raising the additional $500,000 from oral health champions and advocates throughout the state. The clock is ticking. We have until midnight, Dec. 31, 2021, to meet this challenge and deliver a $2million boost to dental hygiene education. Your donation will make a difference!

2021 Dental Assistant Salary & Benefits Survey

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.

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.
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.