It goes without saying that the current state of the world is challenging.
As COVID-19 restrictions slowly lift, dental practices are reopening. However, many are left feeling uncertain about the future - and the future of their careers. We hear you, and we understand.
In the midst of this uncertainty, Biteline is committed to lifting your spirits with some much needed inspiration - three feel good stories from dental professionals which we’re serving up as Good Bites.
It’s the little things - pink and covered in glitter - that always make a difference
Our first story comes from Rebecca, a dental hygienist in Mint Hill, SC who had the sweetest encounter with her patient, Maya.
“Our practice recently reopened after being closed for nearly three months because of COVID-19. I have been stressing over going back to work, and I even had my doubts about continuing on as a hygienist. I have had my days where I thought it would be smarter, and safer, for me to retire. Today, my mind was changed when a patient of mine, an eight-year-old girl named Maya, came in for a cleaning. After a cleaning, I will usually give my patients goodie bags filled with floss, toothpaste, and a new toothbrush. This time, Maya brought ME a toothbrush - it was bright pink and covered in glitter. She told me she remembered my ‘pink dentist’s outfit’ from the last time she came in, and the way we talked about how glitter makes everything better. She said she wanted to bring me a present because last time I gave her a present. Little things like this are reminders that my job is important, and that I make more of a difference in my patients’ lives than I realize.”
Making a career out of caring for the results
For some professionals, retirement might be the best choice during this time. Up next we have a nostalgic story from Janet, a now-retired hygienist who worked in New York before moving to Waxhaw, NC.
“I graduated from a class of dental hygienists in 1996, and I am proud to say I still count many of them as friends. We got through that program together, and school was fun every day, even during the non-stop memorization of the cranial nerves. So much time has passed, and with it, I was given the chance to care for so many patients and really get to know them. So many cross my mind from time to time!
I had the ability to work full-time before having kids, part-time when they were small, Saturdays only when sports became central to their lives, and gradually back to full-time. I have worked with some amazing people, as well as some incredible dentists; and I am so grateful for all they have taught me over the years and how respectfully I was always treated in their practices, even as a newbie in the late 90’s when I knew so little.
Today I am officially a retired dental hygienist. I wish my fellow hygienists the best and pray they stay safe. Being a hygienist means you care more about the results of your work than the paycheck. I am so happy to have been one for almost 25 years, and if I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat.”
The lasting impact of dental hygienists
Last but not least, we have a story from Natalie, a college student at UNC-Chapel Hill whose own experiences inspired her to pursue a career in dental.
“As a young girl, I had teeth that were the textbook definition of a dentist’s worst nightmare. I had braces from fifth grade until ninth grade. Within those four years, I also had a pallet expander, a pallet lengthener, headgear I had to wear at night (even at sleepovers with my friends), and multiple surgeries. To add insult to injury, my sister had a perfect smile and required far less attention than I did. Constantly comparing my smile to hers paired with not-so-nice nicknames from my classmates took a toll on my self-esteem.
Every time I went in for a cleaning, I was always treated so kindly by not only the dentists, but also the dental hygienists and the assistants. I knew that my teeth were a disaster, but no staff members ever made me feel that way. They would always tell me that I did a great job brushing and flossing; and that with the amount of work I was putting in, I would have that perfect smile in no time.
When the day finally came for me to be braces-free, the team made me a huge basket filled with popcorn, gum, Sour Patch Kids, and all the other foods that I had missed out on for four whole years. They were so proud of me for making it to the end and they made sure I knew it. I’ll never forget how supportive of me they were and how their kindness truly helped my self-image.
Because of the impact they made on my life, I am currently studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to become a dental hygienist. It is my ultimate goal to one day make a difference in my patients’ lives the way my hygienists made a difference in mine.”
Whatever you choose to do in this time of uncertainty, remember that your job matters. YOU could be the professional that inspires the next generation of Natalies. YOU could be the professional that made a difference in Maya’s day. No matter what you choose to do, working in dental will ultimately make YOU a Janet, who has years of memories to reflect on and smile about. Here at Biteline, we are here for you, and we support you in whatever next steps you choose to take.
Got a good bite? We’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.