Male Dental Hygienists Experience Discrimination

Since females dominate the job market for dental hygienists, male dental hygienists sometimes face gender discrimination. Popular perception of the dentist’s office expects female dental hygienists. Therefore, some dental practices refuse to hire male dental hygienists while patients encourage gender discrimination, by requesting female dental hygienists. These seemingly innocent acts reveal gender discrimination.

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Does Gender Discrimination Exist for Male Dental Hygienists?

The Wealthy Dentist website conducted a survey to find out if gender discrimination against male dental hygienists is a problem. Out of 123 survey respondents, 7% would not consider hiring a male for a dental hygienist position. Meanwhile, a majority (70%) of the respondents agreed that the most qualified candidate for the job would be hired.

Of course, just because most dental practices promise to hire based on skill and not gender, some quotes, shared by The Wealthy Dentist, raise questions as to whether or not this is true. If dentists feel that it’s appropriate to voice these thoughts, gender discrimination could be occurring within their dental practices. The most problematic discrimination is subtle and accepted socially.

“With me being the only male in an office of 11 females (including one female dentist), it would be too confusing to many patients to employ a male hygienist.”  – Pennsylvania dentist, The Wealthy Dentist survey

Another factor to consider in male dental hygienist discrimination is that very few men join this field. Many women and children seem to feel safer with a female dental hygienist. Meanwhile, others reason that women have smaller hands for working with smaller mouths. Social stereotyping still expects a woman to be the dental hygienist.

“In our society, most patients still expect a female hygienist, so why rock the boat?” – Tennessee dentist, The Wealthy Dentist survey

“Worried what may happen with female patients…Don’t need the uncertainty. He would not be assisted as a male dentist almost always is.” – Connecticut dentist, The Wealthy Dentist survey

Male Gender Discrimination Does Happen

Male Dental Hygienists Experience DiscriminationAlthough gender discrimination within the dentistry industry seems like a small problem, gender discrimination in any realm reveals a deeper problem. In the land of the free, equal opportunity is not so equal. Male dental hygienists navigate subtle gender discrimination not only from hiring dentists but also patients.

For example, a young man training to become a dental hygienist faced a patient who refused his treatment simply because the dental hygienist in training was male. In this situation, an instructor spoke with the patient vouching for the male hygienist’s abilities. The patient allowed the male hygienist to complete the appointment.

A few male hygienists have discovered that female dentists are more likely to hire male hygienists. Other areas more open to male hygienists would be the public health or prison dentistry. Of course, these still offer only limited options to male dental hygienists.

“I have worked with several male hygienists in the past. Very competent and willing to work with a female dentist.” – Nebraska dentist, The Wealthy Dentist survey

How To Handle Gender Discrimination

Granted, dealing with gender discrimination in the workplace is a frustrating circumstance. After all, America promises the pursuit of happiness and equality to all. With the positive changes chartered by the feminist movement, sometimes gender discrimination against men can be overlooked.

1. Establish patterns.

Take note of what the norm is for the dental practice. Are dental hygienists treated differently due to gender? Does the practice support and protect employees from patient harassment?

2. Document questionable behavior.

As certain situations continue, write down the details surrounding the event. Include relevant information, such as answers to “who,” “what,” and “where,” because this will help build your case. Keep the documentation in a safe location, preferably not at your workplace.

3. Read the employee handbook.

An employee handbook ought to outline how to handle a situation of discrimination. Follow the directions. If your workplace does not have a handbook, speak with a neutral supervisor at your practice. Pursue all your options for a possible solution within your practice.

4. Contact a discrimination lawyer.

When discrimination continues and your office offers no solutions to your situation, reach out to a lawyer. A lawyer knows what legal options are available to you. Moreover, a lawyer guides you through the legal system.


If you are a male dental hygienist and have experienced gender discrimination, contact a gender discrimination attorney now to hear your legal options.

Chat with a gender discrimination attorney: (412) 626-5626 or