Most parents know their child’s dentist, but how well do you know your child’s hygienist?
The role of the hygienist in pediatric dentistry is huge!
This is your chance to meet Shasta Jordan, Registered Dental Hygienist:
What attracted you to the medical field?
Shasta: I knew I wanted to work with people. I wanted something where I’d make an impact and make a difference in people’s lives. And so the medical field is perfect for that.
When did you first then decide that you wanted to become a dental hygienist?
Shasta: It was probably my freshman year of high school. I really started looking into what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted the medical field but wasn’t really interested in nursing.
I had a really good hygienist… she’s the one who kind of got me looking into it, so it just kind of went from there.
She really encouraged me and continuously helped me to attain where I am right now.
I had a family member – one of my sisters – who had a bad experience at a dental office, so that kind of swayed me a little bit too.
I know dental fears and phobias are huge, so I wanted to be able to provide patients with the same experiences that I had growing up. I wanted to be able to do that for my own patients.
What hygiene school did you attend?
Shasta: The University of Arkansas in Fort Smith.
Shasta: Their facility was really nice, really up to date, and it was a smaller class too. There were 16 in my class, so I liked that… having more one on one with your instructors.
The instructors were great. They truly wanted you to succeed. I think I made a great choice.
I absolutely loved it there.
How difficult is hygiene school?
Shasta: I would say it’s challenging, definitely the hardest schooling I’ve had by far. It took my full time, my full commitment to it.
You’re studying every single night and on the weekends. You go to school five days a week and it’s pretty much 8-5 every day, so you don’t have much of a social life in hygiene school.
How do you become a registered hygienist, an RDH?
Shasta: You have to take a national written exam and pass that. Then you have to take a clinical exam also. I took two different clinical exams, one for Arkansas and one for Oklahoma. So I can be licensed in both states.
Is the licensing exam hard?
Shasta: It was nerve wracking, but I was confident I would pass it. I went to a really good school so I felt confident in my skills
When did you decide that you wanted to work with children?
Shasta: Let’s see, I started out I general dentistry, and I got to see some of the kids, but not a whole lot of them. And I found that whenever I did have a kid in my seat I absolutely loved it. I looked forward to it. I looked forward to seeing that I actually had kids on my schedule.
And so that’s where it started. That’s when I realized that I wanted to work with children, strictly.
What do you like most about your job?
Shasta: I just love working with the kids, they’re fun. You can be fun with them.
To have a child come in who maybe has some fears, or he’s really worried, even the parents are worried, and for them to leave and the kid is excited and they’re smiling…
Or seeing the before and after, as far as treatment, that makes your day. That makes you feel really good. Especially when the kids come back and they’re saying your name and they’re excited to see you, there’s nothing like that feeling.
I’ve had kids who won’t even get into my chair the first time, and the second time back I see them, they’ll pop in my chair and I get to do everything on them, the cleaning, x-rays… everything,
It’s really the ones who come in initially and they’re terrified, and then the next time you see them, they’re actually excited and they’re smiling to see you. Those are ones that really stand out for me.
So it’s awesome.
How do you deal with the fear and anxiety?
Shasta: I try and be calm with them, and I try to have fun. The more relaxed you are and the more you crack some jokes or get them to loosen up, just act like it’s nothing, no big deal, usually they’ll relax a little more.
So that’s really all I do is come off towards them as this is no big deal… this is going to be fun… don’t worry about it. And usually they pick that up and it helps them relax.
Calm is contagious, right?
Shasta: Right. That’s just kind of how I go.
What tips do you have for parents who struggle getting their kids’ teeth brushed?
Shasta: It kind of depends on the age. If they’re really little, you can try and have fun and play games with it.
But when it really comes down to it, you just have to do it. It’s more important to get in there and get it done. Get it done properly or adequately, just for your child’s own health. Don’t be afraid to do that.
I think some parents get a little skittish if their child starts to cry. But it’s perfectly okay and it’s normal, especially in your little ones. They’re not even going to remember it 30 minutes from now. Really their health is the top priority.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Shasta: I’m a big family girl, so I like to spend time with family. There are five of us, I’ve got 2 sisters and I’m the oldest.
I also like to run. I like to do 5K’s. I probably run 4 nights a week, so I enjoy that.
Do you think your sisters will follow in your footsteps?
Shasta: No. They do not want anything to do with what I do.