Name: Sarah Lawrence
Where/when went to dental hygiene school: Wichita State University, 2007 Graduate
What are you up to now? I currently work at a pediatric dental office as a dental hygienist and also a Myofunctional Therapist. I work with children that are tongue-tied, have incorrect swallowing patterns, mouth-breathing habits and an incorrect tongue resting posture. When a child can breathe and swallow properly, it not only benefits their facial and dental development but it can positively impact their overall health as well. It is my hope that all dental professionals will start to become more educated about the overall impact that the lack of sleep and proper breathing can have on adults and children. When I’m not doing clinical dental hygiene, I am also a Clinical Representative for YOUNG Dental. I represent the wonderful dental hygiene products that YOUNG offers to make the lives of dental hygienists much better by offering high-quality products for the patients but also ergonomic products for the clinician. I attend component meetings, trade shows, and dental hygiene schools to represent YOUNG. I have always been the kind
person that knew I couldn’t sell or represent something if I didn’t believe in it. As soon as I put my hands on the YOUNG handpiece, I knew I had made the right decision to represent the company and it’s been a wonderful experience these past few years. It’s a great company to work for and they are always so encouraging and supportive of dental hygienists. In addition to my clinical roles, I have recently started writing. It’s something I have always enjoyed but I never pursued it due to the fear of not being good enough or being rejected. I had this idea in my head for many, many years that nobody would ever care about what I wrote or that I wasn’t “good enough” to be published. One day, after being encouraged by some of my supportive friends, I decided it was time to put fear aside and give writing a try. I had two articles written within a couple of days and the words just kept pouring out—it was a wonderful feeling! I decided that I would contact the editor of a large dental hygiene magazine to see if they would consider publishing the articles. To my surprise, they accepted both articles to be published! One of will be published in the February 2018 edition of RDH Magazine and the other one was published online. I hope that it’s just the beginning of my writing career because it’s proven to be a creative outlet for me and hopefully will benefit other hygienists in their career. I want others to know that everyone has a unique story to tell and everyone offers a different perspective that is valuable. If you’re interested in writing, don’t let the fear of failure stop you! In November of 2017, I launched the Molar Report with a wonderful friend, Catrina Houston. The Molar Report is an online resource for people in the dental industry that are wanting to share their story and tell more about what they are doing to to make a difference in the dental hygiene profession. We conduct LIVE interviews of our guests via Facebook and encourage viewer participation. It is our plan to be able to attend dental conventions and go “behind the scenes” to showcase the new products and services at each convention, offer product reviews and continue interviewing the pioneers in dentistry. We have interviewed some wonderful people so far that are literally changing the lives of so many of their patients. It has been fun meeting so many new people and getting to hear their unique stories about how they transitioned for a “traditional” dental hygiene role to something outside of the box. We are currently most active on our Facebook group but we are launching our website very soon. I’ve recently started assisting a company with digital marketing. It’s been a great way to challenge my mind and to get creative with wording. I’ve always been interested in logos, branding and the psychology that goes into the marketing of a business. It’s a new area for me but I’m having a blast so far!
How did you get into working outside of the traditional clinic? A few months after I graduated, I started to get slightly bored with clinical hygiene. After four intense years of continually studying, learning, and challenging myself, I found myself wishing I was still in school again. I love learning—it was one of the reasons I went into dental hygiene. I knew it required continuing education to keep up my license and I looked forward to that. I started looking online to see what other options there were for a dental hygienist. I came across some information on myofunctional therapy and after sending some emails, I connected with Sandra Coulson from The Coulson Institute in Denver, Colorado. After attending her internship, I knew that myofunctional therapy was in my future. Sandra has been one of the most influential people in my career. She has done so many amazing things to promote myofunctional therapy over the years and has paved the way for the profession. I also later attended the Neo-Health Services training with Sandra Holtzmann and it was also a wonderful, highly-valuable course. I have learned a lot from various therapists throughout my career and have learned the value in asking others for help when I needed it. I didn’t utilize my myofunctional therapy training right away. I was still working for the same office that I worked for when I graduated and I continued to work there for almost six years only doing dental hygiene. After landing a job at a pediatric office as a dental hygienist, I started utilizing my training in myofunctional therapy and have been doing it part-time for the past four years. Just like any new endeavor, it takes time to implement a protocol, new scheduling and to communicate the message to patients.
What's your favorite thing about dental hygiene? My favorite thing about dental hygiene is the fact that you can choose so many different career paths! When I first graduated from college, I truly thought my only option was to do clinical dental hygiene and possibly do some sales when I got older and my body started to age. I had no idea all of the possibilities that could come along with dental hygiene! Sales, consulting, writing, speaking, marketing, educating, coaching….just to name a few. One of my favorite things about working in the pediatric office is educating not only the patients but also the parents. For a patient to be healthy in the long-term, they must know how to make the right choices on a regular basis. We must invest the time into demonstrating proper brushing techniques, review dietary habits and be a support for the parents when they need help. We must work as a team with the parents and offer advice in a non-judgemental way. As most hygienists know, we are developing relationships with our patients, not just scaling their teeth. We are in a unique position to be able to connect on such an intimate level with our patients and we need to respect that relationship.
Any funny stories from practice? Working with children gives me the opportunity to laugh daily! They are a joy to work with and they are always so willing to be brutally honest. I love it!
Any advice for a recent DH grad? Don’t be so hard on yourself. When you graduate, this is just the beginning of a long journey. You are just taking the first steps into the outside world and it can be a scary place. Be nice to yourself. You will question your abilities, you will lack self-confidence and compare yourself to your dental hygiene friends and co-workers….please don’t. It’s not a healthy habit to get into and it does nothing but set you up for disappointment in the future. You’re not going to please every patient and you might even get some negative feedback from time to time. That does not mean that you are not a wonderful hygienist, it just means that you can’t be everything to everybody. It’s hard to not internalize those negative things that people might say but you must know your worth. You have proven your clinical and intellectual abilities and you are now a licensed healthcare professional. With that title, you also have some pretty big responsibilities. It’s your responsibility to be ethical, stick up for people that are being bullied in your workplace, and to continually strive to be a better dental hygienist by continuing to learn. Most importantly, surround yourself with good friends that truly want what’s best for you. Don’t get caught up with people that are there to keep you down and to see you fail. Your friends should challenge you to be better and offer support when you need it the most. If you can’t find anyone in your circle that can offer those things, reach out to epople on social media. There are many positive Facebook groups that will support and encourage you when you need it most. Just remember, friends are about quality, not quantity.
Thank you Sarah for being spotlighted on Hygiene Edge! For our friends, she's designed an amazing dental phone wallpaper for you to download! Yay!