I want to be my own boss

Many hygienists can only dream of a day when they own their own dental practice, but business ownership is becoming a reality in more areas of the country. This husband and wife team give hygienists hope that business ownership can be realized when state legislatures remove barriers that block hygienists from owning their own practices.

Derrick and Anna Robertson are dental hygienists who reside in Bucksport, Maine. They met while attending hygiene school at the University of Maine at Augusta, Bangor Campus.

“I craftily dreamt up excuses to talk to Anna, and we started dating the beginning of my last semester,” Derrick said. Anna was homeschooled, and then headed straight to college. Dental hygiene was a second career for Derrick. He had previously worked as a marketing associate for Sysco Foods and as a service writer for an auto center. Derrick graduated from dental hygiene school in 2003 and Anna in 2005.

One of the operatories in the Robertsons’ practice with a beautiful summertime view.

Making it legal

In July 2008, the Maine legislature passed a bill that allowed for the independent practice of dental hygiene. The application statutes for independent practice dental hygienists (IPDH) state that hygienists are required to have worked in a clinical setting for at least two years and 2,000 hours before they can apply for their license if they have a bachelor’s degree, or six years and 5,000 hours if they have an associate’s degree. Applicants must retake the jurisprudence exam, pass a criminal background check, and pass a board interview. At present, there are approximately 100 IPDHs.