When I started my career in dental hygiene in 1995 I was stoked to receive a $335.00 pay check for my first week in practice. I thought I had hit the jackpot with my new career. I was so impressed with myself and my accomplishments that I told everyone including my parents, whose reply was, “What is a dental hygienist?
Ugh…Needless to say, my family never visited a dentist unless something hurt. My family loved my crooked teeth because they thought my “snaggeltooth” was endearing and that I looked similar to Cher from Sonny and Cher, back when she was with Sonny.
I had a hard time convincing my family that being a dental hygienist was a prestigious position (it was in 1995). My family owned restaurants and worked in the business and because I didn’t want to, I was labeled a rebel. Having always been “the rebel” my family naturally thought that I went to night classes and earned a certificate in Dental Hygiene.
Trying to educate them was like pulling teeth. I couldn’t ring them in and make them understand that I went through 3 grueling years of COLLEGE and took intensive board exams to pass. I was still their little fx%# up.
I now belonged to an elite class of people: Registered Dental Hygienists
Nevertheless, I studied hard, took the boards and passed with many tears and flying colors. I bought an entire wardrobe of scrubs and shoes. Every morning when I woke up and showered and donned my uniform I felt so proud of myself; the name tag was the icing on the cake. No matter what my family said, I knew I was super cool and highly educated and belonged to an elite class of people: Registered Dental Hygienists.
Years of practicing with poor ergonomics combined with a car accident closed the clinical dental hygiene chapter in my life but other chapters began writing themselves and I embraced the unique opportunities presented to me because of my dental hygiene education.
I worked in education, dental sales and in dental practice coaching. A unique opportunity came in August of 2019 when I landed a position as a dental research associate with Case Western Reserve University.
When I told my mom about my research position she was happy for me and confided, “You are too good to clean food out of people’s mouths. I am so glad you got out of that field!”
Unless you are a dental hygienist you will never know the depth of our love for what we do. We don’t just clean crap out of people’s teeth, we make a difference in patient’s lives every day, from detecting oral cancer, to being a shoulder to lean on for people who need to talk. We are more than just tooth scrapers; we are educated, passionate and loyal healthcare professionals who care about the overall health of our patients.
If you haven’t read my blog, I encourage you to read about the extraordinary women and men who are passionate souls that care about the health and welfare of their patients. These are dental hygienists, and I am proud to say, that I am one too.
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