During the month of October KOHC celebrated National Dental Hygiene Month(NDHM) by highlighting the importance of diligent dental hygiene routines, suggesting recommendations to improve the oral health of Kentucky kids, providing tips to celebrate Halloween in a healthy and safe way, and sharing TEN-4 bruising rule resources. As National Dental Hygiene Month winds down and the time to move the clock back grows near, we move forward in honoring a few of KOHC’s outstanding dental hygienists. 

Drum roll please… we are proud to feature Stacy, Jennifer, Kate, and Tracy – four hygienists who are members of the coalition! Enjoy the following interviews highlighting thoughts, experiences, and dedication to the profession they love. 

Stacy Barrick

Stacy Barrick

Why did you become a dental hygienist?
“I’ve always had a passion for dental hygiene.  I remember at a young age going to the dentist and they would send me home with a patient bib and gloves, I would play dentist with my friends.  I love helping people and I feel like I can create a very personal relationship because of the one on one visits”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
“My relationships with my patients.”
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“Insurance policies that are ever-changing and now Covid 19 restrictions.”
What has been the most significant change to the dental hygiene profession since the beginning of your career?
“The Covid 19 pandemic, we are losing a lot of dental hygienists due to fear, policies within the dental office, and lack of concern due to the PPE shortage. The dental field has taken a hard hit during the pandemic due to the aerosols produced by most procedures. Offices were shut down, services are still limited, shortages of Proper PPE make it hard to provide proper care to patients.”

Jennifer Hasch

Jennifer HaschWhy did you become a dental hygienist?
“I went on a medical/dental mission with my mom as a teenager to rural Jamaica. I helped kids learn how to take care of their smile who had never seen a dentist or owned a toothbrush. I realized the confidence and self-esteem that was tied to a healthy smile. As a young adult, my family dentist suggested I look into dental hygiene as a career, and I remembered how much I enjoyed my time in Jamaica. I started shadowing the hygienist and volunteering in the office and the rest is history.”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
“I love the teamwork at my office. We have fun. We sing. We bring smiles to people’s faces in more ways than one. We are so much more than a dental team, advocating for our patients in policy, praying with our patients and each other, and connecting folks to community resources for food or clothing. I am so blessed to work where I do with the folks beside me.”
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“Clinical care can be emotionally overwhelming. Seeing 8-10 patients a day is a lot of energy to manage. It can be draining physically and emotionally but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being in an administrative role presents a different set of challenges. It’s on me to make sure all the patients and staff have a safe environment. That has been challenging this year in a new way.”
What has been the most significant change to the dental hygiene profession since the beginning of your career?
“I think COVID-19 has presented some challenges with the aerosol risks. Factoring in air exchange rates, filtration systems, and HVAC changes are all new. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the recommendations and guidelines to keep us and our patients protected in this new world.” 

Kate Keiffner

Why did you become a dental hygienist?
“My dental hygienist in college pushed me to pursue dental hygiene/ a mentor suggested it as well:).”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
“The connections I make with patients and their families! I have met some amazing people and many still remain friends to this day!”
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“Ergonomics as well as being viewed as a valuable part of a patient’s health vs a “teeth cleaner”. We do so much more than clean teeth!”
What has been the most significant change to the dental hygiene profession since the beginning of your career?
“Technology! The laser, the x-rays, the intraoral camera have all changed so much to make our jobs easier!”

Tracy Laughner

Why did you become a dental hygienist?
“The hours were great for parenting and I had seen first hand with a third world volunteer group what lack of dental care and education can do to generations of people. People were pulling teeth on sidewalks with pliers to get out of pain.”
What do you love most about being a dental hygienist?
The patients. I meet so many interesting and wonderful people while being able to help them with a very basic health need. Sorry to admit, I like to be needed and I’d rather help with an absolutely real need than a personal preference job.”
What do you find the most challenging about the dental hygiene profession?
“Expanding to a public health dental educator. It took a lot to see the need to fill it creatively. It finally is seen and appreciated, constantly trying to adjust and improve. In clinical practice, it is hard to see patients with needs that they cannot afford to provide for.”
What has been the most significant change to the dental hygiene profession since the beginning of your career?
“There is an improvement in care through technology and equipment. Better and safer x-rays for sure. Some offices are becoming more environmentally friendly.

In the midst of a global pandemic, the dental hygiene community has come together in extraordinary ways. ADHA is joining forces with Colgate® Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to celebrate courage in the face of adversity and promote good oral health for NDHM 2020. Thank you, dental hygienists, for everything -all the instruments you scrub and sharpen, the drawers you organize, and the countertops you clean. Thank you for your technical expertise and the way you gift wrap that expertise with everything else you do.