How long have you been working at Woodborough House?
Since 2008, which is about 14 years. Nick and Sarah took over the practice in 2006, so they hadn’t been here that long when I started. I’ve watched the practice grow over the years from something quite small, to something much bigger and quite unique. I feel like I’ve been on an adventure with them.
What is your area of specialism?
I am a Dental Hygienist and my job is primarily to clean the teeth of our patients. I also whiten teeth for patients and teach them how to look after their teeth to avoid gum disease, cavities and tooth decay. I see a range of patients including very young children, who we show how to brush correctly from an early age. There are also patients that I see who are having lots of treatment with the specialist dentists, they are on a journey where they have to learn to look after their teeth. So the job is about providing ongoing care for our patients as their dental journey changes over time.
When a patient comes to us for the first time, they’ll start by having an overall dental examination with a dentist. The patient is then referred for dental hygiene. My role is to check their gum health and their brushing routine. One of the ways we do this is disclosing their teeth with a special dye to make it easier for the patient to see and understand what we are trying to improve. We may introduce them to ways to improve their oral health. By recommending a change of toothbrush to better suit their needs. Or by showing them ways to clean between their teeth. I also remove any calculus, plaque and stain. We want our patients to have a clean bill of health as oral hygiene is vital for overall general health. The mouth is the first place that bacteria can enter into the bloodstream, so a healthy mouth is very important for general healthcare. Gum disease can be associated with things like heart disease, and recent studies show there are also links with dementia. Taking care of your gums prevents tooth loss as well.
Dental hygienists don’t just clean teeth. We take a holistic approach and advise our patients how to improve their oral health through a whole range of things. This includes what they’re eating, what they’re drinking, how they’re brushing, and how important it is to clean between the teeth. Brushing teeth is quite often self-taught, sometimes people just need pointing in the right direction to get it right.
What is your background and your journey to where you are now?
I qualified as a Dental Hygienist in 2005. Before that I was a dental nurse for 10 years from when I was 19 to 29. I fell into dental nursing. I’d worked in an office and didn’t find it particularly interesting. Then I saw an advert for a dental nurse and thought I would try it out. I was very fortunate that the dentist I worked with was really great and showed me how interesting the job could be. He trained to be an orthodontist, so I progressed from being a regular dental nurse to being an orthodontic dental nurse. It was later that a friend of mine who I worked with went on from being a dental nurse to qualifying as a dental hygienist and inspired me to do the same. I applied to Bristol Dental School and was very fortunate to get a place straight away. It was amazing to have the opportunity to go back and study full time when I was 29. Plus, being a student at that age was quite exciting when many of my friends were settling down.
Before joining Woodborough House I’d worked for quite a few other practices. I wanted to work closer to home after having my first daughter. So, when I saw the position advertised, it seemed a perfect opportunity for me. I connected with Sarah straightaway at my interview. She was so warm, and kind. I liked the fact that Sarah had a long term plan for Woodborough. She was full of life and enthusiastic about work and what was to come, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Woodborough House has been a great pace to work. Nick and Sarah have been very supportive of everything I’ve done. They’re always introducing new things and there’s always something exciting going on. As a mum, it’s also nice to be working somewhere a bit more dynamic.
What is it about your job that you enjoy the most?
The people, without doubt. It’s fascinating because everybody has a story. You can treat a patient better when you know more about them as a person. I’ve had patients tell me amazing life stories over the years and it’s just really nice that I get to meet such interesting people and build those relationships. I’m still seeing some of the same patients I did 14 years ago, which is really special.
I also enjoy the actual cleaning of someone’s teeth – I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. Whatever’s going on in the world, I come into my surgery, I have my visor down and my goggles on and I’m in the zone. I can just completely relax and immerse myself in the process.
What is also amazing is the sense of real achievement when you’ve helped someone. Especially if you’ve had a patient that’s not visited for years. You are literally taking them on a journey. After treatment, their mouth feels different, they feel different and they feel more confident as a result.
Where would you like your career to go next?
We are all encouraged to go on courses regularly so that we can continue learning. We do something called CPD, which is our continual learning development. A lot of courses went online during the lockdown, which is great, because you can easily log-on and watch lots of webinars. Last night, I was listening to something about the dental link to diabetes. What’s also good though is that a number of physical courses have come back. It’s nice to get out and go on a course and learn more about the job you’re doing, and also meet other dental hygienists. So, overall it’s just about becoming the best Hygienist I can be and being up to date in my knowledge.
What is it about the WH culture that you like?
It’s just a really warm and friendly place to work. It is like a family. Sarah is very good at picking the right pieces for the jigsaw; every new person that joins the team adds something slightly different. At Woodborough House there are no two people who are exactly the same. It’s because of our differences that we get on so well. There’s also a lot of energy and positivity that runs through the practice that you don’t find in other places. Everybody working here seems very happy about the fact they’re working at Woodborough House.
I really enjoy working at Woodborough House. I like the people. I like the patients. I like the job.
How would you describe WH in 3 words?
How do you unwind outside of work?
I like to go to the gym and I’ve been doing that for the last couple of years. I do lots of walking as well. Last year I did the moonwalk which is a 26-mile overnight walk, which was a real challenge. I’m not planning on any big challenges this year, but I’ll continue with the walking as I’ve got a little sausage dog so I go out regularly with him. I enjoy cooking with my family, although that’s mostly my husband, as the girls get bored after 3 minutes! I love watching a good TV drama or film cuddled up on the sofa with the dog and the family. I love going to the theatre, venturing into the West End to take in a show with my friends.
What’s your favourite film or book?
My favourite movie is ‘Back to the Future’ because I love anything to do with time travel.
I love reading. I’m in a book club and when I’m out walking the dog I’ll listen to an audible book. It’s difficult to say what my favourite book is because there are so many brilliant books, but I would probably say ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger, which I’ve read a couple of times.
What’s your favourite meal?
Grazing food would be my first choice, such as mezze or tapas, with lots of small plates to pick at. It tends to be my go-to because it’s very a social way of eating, which is perfect when you go out with friends. It’s also a nice way of elongating dinner!
What’s the last picture you took on your phone?
It’s a picture of some flowers for my garden that I’m thinking about planting. I do lots in the garden as I love being outside.
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