KOHC is committed to recognizing the important role dental hygienists play within the dental team and community. As we wrap up National Dental Hygiene Month, we are highlighting two resilient Kentucky hygienists. Enjoy reading why these dental hygienists chose their profession, the challenges presented and their hopes for the future in the following interviews.

Pam BarnesRDH and Kentucky Oral Health Coalition Member

Why did you become a dental hygienist?
I wanted to help people give off a positive first impression with a confident and healthy smile.”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
“I love meeting new people and getting to know them! This is a perfect way of being one-on-one together for an hour. I also have appreciated being able to plan my own work schedule. I have worked full-time to part-time in one office to working in multiple offices and striking up friendships with several dental professionals as well as patients.”
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“I trust that within my lifetime the Dental Hygiene Practitioner Certification will evolve.” [I would like to see the pay increased and more benefits provided as one would have with a corporation. It is difficult for a dental hygienist to achieve upward mobility.]
What makes you excited about the future of the dental hygiene profession i.e. What would you like the dental hygiene profession to look like in 2031?
“Trusting that a Dental Hygienist could become similar to a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician Assistant but for dentistry.”

Jackie Coyle -Public Health Dental Hygienist and Medical Interpreter at Family Health Centers

Why did you become a dental hygienist?
“I wanted to provide care to patients and get involved in the community, especially public health which is my passion. I enjoyed the flexibility of the profession and the fact I have worked in public health for 10 years. I also enjoy being a medical interpreter for the Hispanic community.”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
“Being able to make a difference and educate so many patients about their oral health and the fact I can multitask by also being a medical interpreter for the Hispanic community. The best reward is when a patient is thankful for your service and guidance.”.
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“The physical demands on your body (finding the right posture, dealing with aches and pains ), also it is challenging trying to educate patients with different beliefs. Also since COVID wearing an N95 mask constantly is very challenging.”
What makes you excited about the future of the dental hygiene profession i.e. What would you like the dental hygiene profession to look like in 2031?
I would like to see more opportunities in different fields where hygienists can provide and deliver more dental health info to underserved communities.”
Learn about the important role dental hygienists play within the dental team and community by watching this video (en Español) from Jackie.

Join the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition in offering kudos to every dental hygienist who plays a critical role in caring for a patient the moment they get into the dental chair. We appreciate your resilience today and every day!

THANK YOU!

Feature Image by Anna Shvets – Pexels