Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Dental hygienists brighten smiles for patients and themselves

Jodi Taylor said she has her dream job: dental hygienist.

“I was inspired by my orthodontist years ago,” Taylor said. “I knew I didn’t necessarily want to be the orthodontist, but I just really wanted to work there.”

When you visit your dentist for your checkup and cleaning, you may think the dental hygienist just comes in, takes some information and cleans your teeth. However, the job entails more than cleaning teeth. Hygienists also are responsible for cleaning and sterilizing instruments, performing oral X-rays and lots of patient education. In general dentistry, a hygienist also may help make and fit impressions for night guards and trays for teeth bleaching.

Taylor, who works for a periodontist, sometimes assists with treatments for gum diseases as well as gingival grafting. These type of specialized skills may require additional licensing, depending on the state you work in.

Taylor’s husband is a corporate pilot, and the family lives a mobile lifestyle, similar to military families. International flights mean her husband is away a lot, so Taylor is often left working, running her household and caring for their child alone.

To get into the field, Taylor earned an associate degree in dental hygiene from an accredited school. Before she could take courses specific to her degree, mostly science-related, she completed required general courses.

While some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, Taylor said the extra schooling is usually for students who want to teach in the field.

After earning her degree, Taylor had to pass all the licensing exams. Every state requires a new hygienist to take a jurisprudence exam. Taylor also completed a written National Board Dental Hygiene exam, as well as her state’s state/regional board examination.

These exams usually have fees, so Taylor encourages new hygienists to include them in their budgets. Graduates of a dental hygiene program can test and be licensed in a different state than where they attended school.

Recently, Taylor’s husband received a great opportunity to advance his career, in a different state. The family moved, and Taylor began the licensing process again, including retaking the exams and paying all the fees.

The new state also required her to submit her transcripts, National Board exam scores, CPR certification and three recommendations from practicing dentists.

Taylor was surprised by the last requirement.

What if you’ve only worked for one or two dentists? Taylor suggests asking your dentist for recommendations from some of his peers. She also advises checking with a childhood dentist or referring dentist for this requirement. But remember, each state has its own set of criteria.

Despite the strict requirements that come with each move, Taylor is enthusiastic about her job.

“Dentistry is very interesting,” she said. “Our days are busy, but I love it. It’s instant gratification because people leave with cleaner teeth. Helping people is just great.”

She also appreciates the flexibility a career in dental hygiene has to offer.

“You can be available to work fill-in, not full-time and many offices are open only four days a week,” Taylor said. “And when you have or start a family, you want flexibility.”

If you think dental hygiene may be in your future and you live the mobile military life, Taylor has some pointers.

“If you have an idea about your future station, find a school in that area and check the requirements, she said. “Then, either before you move or once you get there, try to take those general courses first to get prepared for your specific program.”

As many states pass the portable license legislations for military spouses, this process could very well be streamlined in the future.

For more information about careers as a dental hygienist, visit


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