What motivated you to become a dental hygienist?
I fell into dental nursing when I was 18 years old – I’d been living away on a Kibbutz in Israel and needed a job when I got home!
Although I’d throughly enjoyed my time as a dental nurse, I felt ready for more of a challenge after a few years. I went on to gain my dental nurse qualifications and joined the Royal Air Force where I was lucky enough to be selected to do my dental hygiene training.
What kind of training/ qualifications did you need to become a dental hygienist?
At the time I qualified, applicants needed only five GCSEs to apply. However, the course was an intense two year Diploma qualfication alongside a BTEC in Oral Health Education and an NVQ in Diet and Nutrition.
What is a typical work week like for you?
My working week is always busy and quite diverse.
I work full time at Queensway and a large proportion of my week is spent providing advice and treatment for patients with gum disease as well as diet advice and preventative treatments against tooth decay.
At Queensway, I’m able to provide sedation for our anxious patients which is a part of my role I really enjoy. It’s satisfying getting patients who have avoided treatment for years to a point where they are relaxed and able to get back to dental health.
More recently, I have been involved in screening and preventative care at Middlesbrough Football Club to ensure all players and staff receive regular dental health screenings. This has lead to wider opportunities for Queensway to get out into the community, along with our oral health team and Tooth Troopers, Tilly and Toby.
Sally with Middlesbrough Football Club player George Friend during one of her oral health sessions with the team.
What do you like most about your career?
That’s simple – the people. I don’t think you could do this job without a genuine like and interest in people. Even the odd bad day is a good learning experience and I never get bored of the challenge and enjoyment of different personalities and situations.
I’ve met some amazing people throughout the years, both colleagues and patients who are now friends.
What trends or new technology have you recently seen in the dentistry field/ office?
The role of a hygienist has changed hugely since I qualified.
Our scope of practice has expanded allowing us to give our patients local anaesthetic and sedation, tooth whitening treatments and the freedom to see patients via direct access which allows us to hopefully provide a more effective service.
What skill sets are you building at your current role?
At the moment I am involved in expanding our periodontal service. We have a specialist lead team who work together to provide gum treatments for patients who are suffering with pain, tooth loss or are simply unhappy with the appearance of their teeth and gums.
We are looking at our patients risk factors for gum disease and educating them about the links associated to diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Describe your most challenging patient interaction. How did you handle it?
The day to day challenge of managing nervous patients and different personality types are the norm. However, occassionally I’ve had to deal with a medical emergency which has occurred.
Although challenging as they are usually expected, I have come away from them reassured that the training we do in preparation, and the team that we have around us at Queensway, works.
Why did you choose to work at Queensway over other dental practices?
The service provided at Queensway is diverse and therefore the career opportunities and training reflects that. It is consistently moving forward and it’s exciting to be a part of that.
Sally recently took part in a mammoth 250 mile cycling challenge from London to Paris to help raise funds to send a small Queensway dental team to Greece to provide vital dental aid to Syrian refugees.
If you have any questions regarding oral health and gum disease and would like to book an appointment, please call 01642 554667.