January 18, 2010 | modernhygienist.comWEb exclusive Hygienist you should know: Amber White, RDHFrom babysitting to dental bootcamp-her story in 10 questions.
January 18, 2010 | modernhygienist.com
Hygienist you should know:
Amber White, RDH
From babysitting to dental bootcamp-her story in 10 questions.
Compiled by Thais Carter, Editor in Chief
Photo: Michael Voltattorni
With so many amazing dental hygienists in the profession, we want to provide an avenue for you to learn about and be inspired by your peers. Whether it’s someone from the practice down the road or on the podium at a CE event, everyone has a story to share. This month, we interview Amber White, RDH, a dental hygienist in clinical practice with Dr. Tom Loughary in Jacksonville, IL.
Where did your interest in dental hygiene come from?
It started when I was babysitting for a dentist. He and his wife asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said I was thinking about nursing. They immediately encouraged me to consider dental hygiene. At the time, my dental office didn’t have a dental hygienist, so I didn’t even know what one was! I ended up going to school for my dental assistant’s degree and went to work for that dentist. He then paid for me to go back to dental hygiene school. It’s the perfect job for me!
You were fortunate to have your first employer be someone invested in your career. What is your relationship like with your current dentist?
I work for a general dentist, Dr. Tom Loughary. He does a lot of ortho and cosmetic work, but he is really supportive of the dental hygiene part of dentistry-not many dentists are. I was flattered when one of my co-workers shared that she looks up to me. She respects my opinion and asks for my help, and I think that is in large part because that is the standard set by the doctor, who respects me. I feel valued at the office, that I’m an important part of what we do-part of a team. Dr. Loughary involves me in the treatment planning and I appreciate that.
That sounds like a great dynamic. Do you think the entire office shares that sense of comraderie?
I do. Not too long ago, my office participated in a “Dental Boot Camp.” We had an assistant at the time really pushing for it-she’d heard a lot about it-but the rest of us had only heard bits and pieces. Dr. Loughary said we’re doing this and then the funniest thing happened: That dental assistant ended up quitting. She couldn’t adapt.
Honestly, though, you felt like a different person when you left. It wasn’t about some small technique you did differently, but the way you talk and act. It made you a more confident person. It made a huge difference for me, even in my personal life.
How important is technology in your office?
Our whole office is high tech. Technology has three big benefits: It attracts patients, the patients like it, and it’s made my job easier. We have digital radiography and intraoral cameras, both of which I love. They allow me to actually show my patients what I’m seeing, which is great. I like the fact that technology isn’t just for the dentist. Dr. Loughary is high tech on his end and I am on my end-we share what we learn with each other. He’s also willing to try new things. For example, we were part of the FDA study for PerioProtect.
What did you take away from your participation in the study?
The PerioProtect system allows me to see real change in the patient’s oral health. In my opinion, the only way you see a difference in habits is if you see the patient in two weeks. After that, they’re slacking off. With PerioProtect, they see the difference themselves and that motivates them. We also do more frequent recalls at the time, so we can reinforce that message.
You mention that patients are a big fan of the technology. Other than the “cool factor,” in what ways do you think the patients are experiencing the benefits?
These tools help the patients be more involved in the process. I like to think they’re comfortable asking me questions, which is great, but now, people actually point things out to me on the screen. I can point out an example of something on one tooth and then they see it on other teeth. I try to make it easy to understand verbally, but with these tools, it makes it easier for them to understand and get involved. With old x-rays, they’d say they see it, but now-with it blown up life size-they’re not faking it.
Do you have any especially memorable patients?
It’s not the patients I talk the most dentistry with who stick with me, but the people whotalk about their lives. This one woman-who actually pssed away recently-her husband had passed away. Her she is, 80 years old, crying in my chair talking about finding her true love at age 80 after 50 years with this other man. It was a powerful story. I’m also a huge fan of all our pediatric patients. I love kids.
We know a lot about dental office Amber. What can you share about who you are outside the operatory?
My grandma says that if someone can’t get along with Amber, they can’t get along with anyone-I’m definitely a people person. I accept people where they are, meet them where they’re at, and that’s true in the dental office as well as in my personal life. Other than that, I’m really into photography-constantly taking pictures.
What is the best thing about being a dental hygienist?
Well, for me, family is No.1, and that’s not just with my kids, but brothers and sisters and especially my grandmother. I think that’s why dental hygiene is so good for me- it allows me that flexibility.
What are some of your long term goals?
My boss teaches for PerioProtect and I think that’s something I’dl ike to try. I’ve also thought about opening my own photography studio. I think I might go back and get my Bachelor’s Degree after my kids graduate. I almost have an 9th grader, and that’s weird. My kids are already picking the cars they want when they turn 16.