3 Influential Dental Hygienists Who Followed Their Passion

The Dental Hygiene Chronicles is proud to spotlight 3 more influential dental hygienists who continue to make significant strides in all aspects of their careers.

You will notice a common denominator among these extraordinary dental hygienists, and that is they are all driven by their passions and love for dental hygiene.

I think you will agree, these influential dental hygienists continue to grow and share because they are passionate.

“I think that in order to be successful, women have to figure out what they’re passionate about first. No matter what you aspire to, you’ve got to love what you do in order to be successful at it.”

Michelle Obama

Kathryn Gilliam, BA, RDH, FAAOSH

Kathryn Gilliam, BA, RDH, FAAOSH, is a published author, consultant, international speaker, and practicing oral wellness practitioner. She is laser-focused on empowering dental hygienists and dentists to elevate their identities as oral wellness specialists who powerfully impact the lives and health of their patients. 

Kathryn is an international speaker and a key opinion leader for MicrobeLinkDx, Care Credit, OraPharma, ACT Dental, CloSYS and Stella Life Vega Oral Care Products. Kathryn also serves as a Dentsply Sirona Preventive Ambassador. Kathryn has published multiple articles and continuing education courses in leading dental journals and serves as a faculty member and dental hygiene specialty coach for the Productive Dentist Academy.

Kathryn absolutely loves teaching. Her continuing education courses enlighten, entertain, and inspire her audiences. They are full of practical information that her attendees can immediately integrate into their practices. “I want other healthcare practitioners to be as excited about their careers as I am about mine. I absolutely love what I do and I don’t want anyone to feel burned out or unmotivated. It’s an honor that people come to us for care, and we should deliver that care at the highest level possible.” Kathryn’s topics extend from teaching the foundational principles of the oral – systemic connections and how to address inflammation in practice, to the early detection and prevention of oral and oropharyngeal cancers, to the screening for airway and sleep problems in children and adults, to recognition of oral signs of celiac disease, and to high-level communication skills. “When you want to affect change, as I do, it’s a blessing to be given the opportunity to educate and to speak to your colleagues from the stage. I don’t take that privilege lightly.”

Kathryn has been on the front lines of the early detection of oral and oropharyngeal cancer throughout her career. Kathryn serves as the Director of Education for Oral Cancer Cause and serves on the Dental Hygiene Advisory Board of the Oral Cancer Foundation. Kathryn is an honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and The University of Texas Health Science Center Dental Branch. Kathryn values lifelong learning. She devours every dental book she can and typically pursues hundreds of hours of continuing education every year.

A pivotal moment in Kathryn’s life was when father, Phillip Kamish, DMD, an internationally acclaimed practitioner, took her hands in his upon her graduation from dental hygiene school and said, “You have healing hands, just like mine.” This blessing and charge has been her standard ever since.

Even after over 30 years as a dental hygienist, Kathryn still loves and is passionate about her career as a dental hygienist and she feels her purpose is to love her patients back to health. Kathryn’s purpose in lecturing, speaking and writing is to inspire other healthcare professionals to love their patients at a higher level, as well, thereby creating a ripple effect, and extending her reach to care for even more patients than she could do alone.

Kathryn Gilliam, BA, RDH, FAAOSH
PerioLinks LLC.

Elaine Rodriguez, RDH

Elaine has 16 years of dental experience, with special emphasis on clinical laser applications, risk and disease management, and business-leadership workshops for dentists and dental hygienists. She is the founder and Director of Education for her education company, Dental Laser Integrations–a credentialed CE entity through the Academy of General Dentistry. Elaine has obtained 3 Associate Fellowships from the World Clinical Laser Institute, and is one of less than 20 hygienists nationally to have achieved Advanced Proficiency II status in Diode Lasers from the Academy of Laser Dentistry.

“Dentists and hygienists used to utilize lasers freely, with nothing more than on-the-job training, online courses or manufacturer-based instructions. Most states have begun to enact laws that require dental providers to attend a “live” certification course before using lasers in their practice. Review your home state’s Board of Dental Examiner’s rules and regulations regarding the minimum required hours and curricula for Class IV laser training. If your state employs a Radiation Regulatory Agency, do not fail to check with it regarding updates, required protocols and registration specifications.”

“You may be pleasantly surprised as to what a useful addition a laser can be to your specialty practice, with the proper training and protocols in place. By incorporating a laser, you could open a new stream of billable procedures you may have been less than inclined to perform. Additionally, laser integration may provide for new marketing strategies, referral bases and networking opportunities. By investing in a laser, this may place you in a more favorable light in your patient’s eyes, because it will reduce chair time and prove your commitment to quality care. In turn, this will encourage positive word of mouth referrals and overall customer satisfaction.”

In addition to her role as a clinician, Elaine is an international speaker, published author, and a clinical consultant for dental practices nationwide. Outside of work, Elaine enjoys spending her time with her daughter, family and friends, hiking around their Arizona home.

Dental Laser Integrations
Scottsdale, AZ

(602) 677-1704

Linda M. Douglas BSc, RDH

Linda M. Douglas BSc, RDH graduated as a dental hygienist from the Royal Dental Hospital in London, England, and also graduated from O’Hehir University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Oral Health Promotion. Linda worked in periodontology before moving to Toronto, where she has worked in private practice since 1990. She is also the Clinical Director for Hygienetown, a supportive online community and publication for dental hygienists. Linda’s desire to help anxious patients has instigated in-depth study of the issues faced by survivors of childhood trauma, and other individuals with dental phobia. Linda also writes and speaks on xerostomia management, saliva testing and caring for dental patients with eating disorders.


  • Amazing, Innovative, Dental Hygienists! 
  • Best Swishes
  • An Exciting Future for Your Practice! Saliva-based diagnostics: Part 2
  • The current state of saliva-based diagnostics, part 1
  • Dental Hygiene Care for Survivors of Childhood Abuse 
  • 8 Tips for Thriving on Change! 
  • Facilitating timely diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Trauma-informed, sensitive practice
  • Continuing Education:Understanding Survivors of Childhood Abuse 
  • Eating Disorders 
  • Understanding the Sjögren’s Patient: Facilitating Diagnosis of Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Knowledge can save lives
  • Caring for dental patients with eating disorders
  • Substances Ciblant la Xérostomie
  • Flapping My Gums
  • Profile in Oral Health: Substances for Targeting Xerostomia
  • Zeroing in on Xerostomia
  • Making Oral Cancer Screening a Routine Part of Your Patient Care, Part 2
  • The Future of Periodontal Examination – Beyond the Basics
  • Making Oral Cancer Screening a Routine Part of Your Patient Care, Part 1

Is there a dental hygienist that has been influential in your life? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

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