UDHA Member Spotlight: Amber Allred, RDH

One of the best parts of being a member of a professional organization is the amazing members you get to know and associate with each time we get together (or meet online). One of these members is Amber, a dedicated and loving RDH from the Northern Component. Amber has a deep passion for advocating for her community and patients.

UDHA: What are your favorite parts of being a dental hygienist?

A: First is knowing that I can make a positive impact on an individuals overall health, not just their oral health, and that the outcome usually inspires a big, happy, healthier smile. Seeing patients express their gratitude for the improved oral health I was able to help them achieve through oral hygiene education and clinical care AND seeing them actually follow through with their home care to keep their mouth healthier is so rewarding! I really enjoy giving dental hygiene presentations to children in their classrooms. It is so fun hearing the comments and questions that they come up with. It is so fun to see their excitement about their own teeth and their eagerness to tell others about what they learned.

UDHA: Why are you a member of the ADHA/ UDHA?

A: I am a member of the UDHA because I love that being a dental hygienist doesn’t mean that I can ONLY work in an office now! There is a professional association, thanks to ADHA, who is breaking down barriers and allowing me to share my skills and knowledge outside of the traditional operatory setting. The future possibilities are so exciting!I have learned that being an active participant in the local components and state association can be a lot of fun! You get to work with awesome hygienists who are great leaders and are so patient with newcomers! It is important to stand and be a part of something that you believe in! If we don’t stand our voices won’t be heard and if our voices are not heard then we can’t complain about the situation we can’t get out of because we didn’t stand for what was important to us. So don’t just pay your dues, which are very helpful, but get involved and make your voice matter!

UDHA: Do you have any funny stories from working?

A: One of my favorite funny stories happened at WSU as an adjunct clinical instructor. I was sitting down to check a patient for a student. The patient only spoke Spanish and there was a translator there with the patient. I have learned some Spanish over the years, (but just to clarify, I am not fluent at all!) and while I was checking the patient I decided to speak in Spanish. I figured that if I messed up the translator could catch my mistakes and correct me. So I began to tell the patient that I was going to check his teeth. Now this patient was already nervous and so when I spoke, and messed up my words he heard me say, “ I am going to pull out your teeth!” The patient literally jumped out of the chair and was standing next to the translator, who began to laugh. I just sat there with a mirror in one hand and an explorer in the other hand and a completely blank, confused look on my face. Yes, I was embarrassed, but I felt more concerned for the patient I just scared. And I was shocked that the patient could move so fast! Thankfully the translator was able to clear things up and we were all laughing moments later.

UDHA: What advice do you have for a new dental hygiene graduate?

A: The advice I would give to new grads is that being a dental hygienist improves and saves lives!!! The bonus is that we get to see a smile and instant gratification when the calculus is gone. But most importantly, don’t skimp on oral cancer screenings! I was able to save the life of my relative because I found a lump on his neck during his routine dental visit. Yes, it can be awkward to “massage” someones neck, especially someone’s neck who is not familiar with the procedure at the dental office, but it is necessary and important. Explain to the patient what you are doing and why you are doing it. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you find and share your findings with the dentist. Don’t skimp on chart notes! Write/type a novel so the next person who reads your note can see the whole picture. I have temped in a lot of offices and I feel blind when I read a note that only has simple, routine acronyms and a bunch of “WNL”. I wish all patients were so perfect that they could have a simple note, but they are not. Each person is unique and has a dental story to tell from the halitosis and overwhelming biofilm to the squeaky clean perfectionist. We are blessed to be able to have one-on-one time with our patients! We can make a difference in their lives. Our job has a very intimate aspect to it and I can honestly say that my life has been enriched and my heart touched by the people I have served and their stories. Being a hygienist is spectacular! So do your yoga, have perfect ergonomics, and stay healthy so you can scale on!

UDHA: You have a new community involvement position in your school board. Congratulations! What inspired you to reach out to your community in a new way?

A: I was first approached by a previous board member who asked me to consider running to be on the Ogden City School Board. It had honestly not crossed my mind before that moment, but it never left my mind after that moment. The more I looked into it the more I realized it was something I could do to help make a bigger impact in my community for the children I loved to serve already.

UDHA: How do you feel your experience in dental hygiene has helped in this new position?

A: As dental hygienist we have the interpersonal skills and hearts to serve others. There are so many ways to serve in the community! Our family has enjoyed serving dinner to the homeless at the Lantern House and volunteering in other community efforts. If you seek an opportunity to serve, you’ll find a dozen or more!

UDHA: Do you feel like your education in dental hygiene and helped in your position on the school board?

A: Education is priceless! My education as a dental hygienist allowed for me to have the license to sit on an operator stool and provide care to patients, who in turn taught me more! I can honestly say that I came home almost every day from work having learned some cool fact or new knowledge that my patients taught me during treatment. Sometimes, my patients had the answers to my prayers in their words. Those intimate chair side moments helped improve my interpersonal skills and increased my care and concern for others. When I was providing mobile dental care in the schools through Smart Smiles, the children wrapped their smiles around my heart and I was hooked. I loved being in the schools and serving the children. I was fortunate to be able to obtain my Masters of Education degree in 2016. I learned so much about the field of education and know that it has helped prepare me to be in my role as a board member for the Ogden City School District. I believe that the more education we gain, the more we will understand about the world around us and the more capable we will be to connect and love the individuals we serve. Knowledge is priceless too!