Thoughts from Anastasia Turchetta: The importance of collaboration for today's dental hygienist

November 12, 2014

Today’s dental hygienist is bold, empowering, embracing a leadership role, entrepreneurial, spunky, and, well … basically all that encompasses a modern hygienist!

Today’s dental hygienist is bold, empowering, embracing a leadership role, entrepreneurial, spunky, and, well … basically all that encompasses a modern hygienist!

According to the ADHA, our profession has seven areas of expertise: Clinician, Corporate, Public Health, Researcher, Educator, Administrator, and Entrepreneur. My vision in serving you as editor is to explore each area in collaboration with various colleagues whose expertise will promote thought, engagement and enlightenment for you to apply.

For those of you who do not know my background, I invite you to join me on a brief journey.

I am a practicing clinical dental hygienist for 26 years and began my career path in dental assisting. I was completely ineffective as a dental assistant. There are only so many times you can pass out during extractions, gag with your patients during impressions, and suck up your employer’s hair with an HVE because you get mentally distracted during an endodontic procedure. Suddenly, you and your boss realize that maybe you are not making a difference in this particular area of dentistry. That said, the opportunity to nurture relationships with patients and inform them about the importance of oral health had me hooked.

I, too, still practice and feel ecstatic on some days and fully frustrated on other days.

I remember the first time I had ever practiced in the assisted hygiene format. This program has more failure than success and I’ve been on both sides of it. I believe in this program fully when communication, appropriate scheduling and team support are the foundation. Fortunately, I had the support and one of the best dental teams to work this with success!

I began to wonder why wasn’t someone speaking on this and sharing how this CAN work from both a business and clinical standpoint? Investing in honing my gift of gab, the professional speaker is born. I began attending Speaking Consulting Network and National Speaker’s Association meetings to initiate the skill sets required. It wasn’t easy!

WEBINAR: Anastasia talks about hypersensitivity and how to control it

In 2007, I was one of five dental hygienists who were selected across the country as finalists for Discus Dental’s Hygienist of the Year … with Modern Hygienist being the presenting publication.

In 2009, I attended an NSA chapter meeting whose topic that day was to “pitch” to selected media professionals. Many in the room had books published and their pitches practiced perfect. Media professionals ranged from Playboy Radio to the Dr. Phil Show and Huffington Post. What did I have to pitch? Without a book, I’m still thinking why can’t our profession go mainstream? What would sit with consumers that we, dental hygienists may still struggle with regarding screening and informing? Yep, you guessed it, I started talking about the relationship between oral sex and oral cancer. The pitch was, “What you don’t know may cost you your life: Oral Sex & Oral Cancer Connection.” In August of 2009, I was a guest on Playboy Radio discussing the risks, symptoms, facts, screenings and treatments for oral cancer!

VIDEO: Anastasia discusses the connection between oral sex and oral cancer

In November, Anastasia’s Hump Day Happenings, a weekly video blog where consumers ask me an oral health question or guests are interviewed in effort to create awareness with our patients to ask questions to you, their dental hygienist, first debuted on YouTube.

My affair with social media continues to grow as does the passion to share with our patients that they have a choice.

VIDEO: Anastasia reveals the 6 things every hygienist should do to grow professionally

The message is simple … our patients are well informed thanks to social media and Google! They deserve to know the options available to them to obtain and maintain health. We are privileged professionals with a responsibility to share this information with them while remaining vigilant to our own dreams.

I am honored to serve you and join you. I fully believe we all need to “Take What You Learn & Make a Difference with It!”