Exciting Times, They Are a-Happening

Barbara Tritz
· May 20, 2019 ·

8 minutes

This month I received an exciting phone call!
Michelle Braerman, American Dental Hygiene Association President, called me personally to announce I’d won a very prestigious award.

The Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award

Honors a clinical hygienist who shows outstanding expertise in relating the interdependence of clinical practice and patient education for the improvement of patient compliance. 

I am humbled, and very excited, to receive and to be recognized for this top honor. I am hopeful this will open people’s eyes to all that dental hygiene can and should encompass. This blog was definitely a part of the patient education component of this award.

As you, my faithful readers, know, I am passionate about oral health and wellness. I think true wellness starts in the mouth with oral health, an open airway, nasal breathing, deep sleep, thorough chewing, real nutrition, and proper facial growth. That’s a far cry from traditional dental hygiene duties. I’ve been on a quest to improve the quality of my patients’ lives and also, through my blog, world wide oral health and wellness. Along with the blog, I’ve expanded to do more public speaking and podcasts, as well as contributing to magazine articles. Look to the June AARP New Bulletin when it comes out! I’ve added to a piece on brain health/sleep disordered breathing.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Five years ago, when my lovely daughter cajoled and pestered me to write a blog (who’d want to read about oral hygiene anyway??) I never thought I’d have 160,000 page views or 90+ blog posts! It has been a labor of love. I have learned much these past five years, in addition to the other 35 years of learning. I found I love writing, public speaking, and presenting. My high school English teacher would not have believed it, as I had no great talent for composition writing then. Nor would my incredibly shy, insecure high school self have believed I could speak to any group, let alone on a podcast worldwide. Thankfully, and incredibly, we all can grow, improve, and push our comfort levels. Don’t get me wrong, I get nervous before speaking or publishing a post. (Still occasionally wondering who on earth reads what I write, and I’m very thankful you do.)

Hygiene History Happened

Many years ago, as a brand new hygienist, my first year working in the field was not the bliss I’d expected. Nobody took my valuable pearls of dental wisdom to heart. They never brushed their teeth or ever picked up floss. I was always behind schedule, and try as I might, the boss really didn’t like me. I will admit, I actually hated this job. He and I lasted one year, and decided I made a big mistake, a HUGE mistake. This was the crappiest job ever known to mankind. I worked hard, did my best, always ran 30 minutes behind, and made so very many mistakes. I’d cry in the dark room as I developed x-rays, and cry some more when I saw my doc motion me in to “discuss” my latest transgression. Suffice it to say, I learned an awful lot that first year (most of my learning seems to come from all mistakes). I could not see myself doing that job for the next 20, let alone 40 years.

So, I left the field and do what I do when I don’t know what to do: I went back to school. I moved 2,000 miles, and enrolled in a Master’s program in business. As far from the dental/healthcare world as possible. However, I had to work while in school, so I did dental sales. Luckily, I walked into a dental office that had a beautiful, incredible phase contrast microscope in the dental hygiene operatory. After they explained what and how they used it, I asked for a job there. How incredible to be back in dentistry after swearing I’d leave forever! The scope was life changing. It helped me to see the bacteria, and finally be the real healer I’d always envisioned. I have since expanded my testing to include decay bacteria, salivary testing to look at pathogens in more depth, as well as genetic and virus testing. Dental disease should be treated like the medical issue it really is! It’s so vital to know what pathogens are present in order to address the infection properly.

Life Long Learning

Throughout my career, I’ve worked hard to continue learning, growing, and questioning. The computer and world wide web make it so easy to accomplish those very goals. Even more important, I have learned from some of the top speakers in the dental field, as well as orofacial myofunctional therapists.

How lucky I am to “stand on the shoulders of giants.” Having mentors I “follow” has indeed changed my life, for the better. Going to listen to Dr. Paul Keyes and Dr. Dan Watt, the dentists who espoused the use of the microscope, resulted in my sitting next to my future husband on an airplane, and moving across the country to the beautiful state of Washington. How fortunate I am to have worked with dental professionals like Dr. Rebecca Taylor, my boss and favorite dentist, Joy Moeller RDH, COMT who trained me in myo, Dr. Bill Domb, my ozone teacher and smartest man I know, Lily Corley and Victoria Wright, fellow myo therapists and friends, and so very many more who encouraged me along this journey. Ozone, perioscopy, orofacial myofunctional therapy, nutrition, and perio protect trays add to my world in so many wonderful ways.

Even the professional folks who weren’t interested in mouth breathing, tongue rest posture or the oral-systemic connection (gasp!) caused me to see they weren’t to be a part of my life and helped me move on. ( IF only they’d read my blog.) I’m nothing if not loyal- sometimes I need a swift boot to make changes.

How lucky I am to have such wonderful teachers, friends and mentors. Thank you all for being part of my life, my learnings and now, my blog.

Dental Hygiene Happenings


What warms my heart most about receiving this award is that dental hygiene is about more than just “cleaning teeth”. Honestly, cleaning teeth is the least important thing I do. Dental hygiene should encompass prevention, testing, periodontal medicine and of course airway, facial growth, plus orofacial myofunctional disorders and myofunctional therapy. If we address these issues (especially in newborns and youngsters) then dental and systemic diseases will reduce dramatically. Gum disease and tooth decay have mouth breathing and other myofunctional disorder components. Sadly, only 15% of airway issues are diagnosed. Dentistry can and should be the keeper of the airway. All things healthwise revolve around our airway and getting the proper oxygen level into the bloodstream.

A few years ago, when I was struggling to decide the direction of my career, taking expensive classes, traveling around the country, learning, reading, blogging, and trying to figure out how this all was going to work together, my husband wanted me to focus on one area, either clinical hygiene or myofunctional therapy. He was correct that there was not enough time in my week to do hygiene, myo therapy, write a blog, and still have exercise and family time. There are only 168 hours a week no matter how much I want to stretch it. Luckily, I have found a good workable plan so I can indeed do it all, except, well, housework might have suffered a little… My airway-centered office, Green City Dental has the same philosophy and supports all I recommend. It’s a joy to come to work. I love my world and all the people I am lucky to work with there. It’s an exciting time to part of the dental profession.

Be a member of the ADHA

Most of the time, a hygienist works solo or maybe with one or two other hygienists in an office. Being in isolation is never good, keeps you in a rut. Thus, joining the American Dental Hygiene Association has been such fun. I get to be surrounded by fellow dental geeks in stereo. They talk my talk, and they are walking my walk. We can learn from each other and encourage growth and development.

These ladies and gents are people I consider friends, even if we have not met yet. They understand me. I love getting Facebook friend requests or emails from fellow hygienists because I know they “get me” like nobody else can. They, too, are hungry to learn and I love sharing with them. Anytime someone posts a picture of teeth covered in tartar, all our collective fingers get “itchy” to remove it. Weird, strange and interesting friends to have but, like I said, we get it. I belong in this group, these professionals, and how very proud I am to say I am a Registered Dental Hygienist. The profession has treated me well throughout my 40 years. To think I left it for two years, and how fortunate I am to have found my way back to this incredible career. So fortunate to be a part of this dynamic group of professionals!

Exciting Times

I admit I am excited to journey to Louisville, Kentucky and participate on stage at the national convention next month! I almost feel like royalty. We’ll be videotaped, and have a photo shoot. Even better, I will expand my network of friends and maybe, hopefully, encourage the profession to look beyond the traditional duties, and be the mouth detectives and myofunctional therapists we all can and must be.

As I celebrate a big birthday later this month, I am reflecting and waxing philosophical on where this latest phase of my career and life will lead. I love clinical hygiene and my one-on-one time coaching my clients/patients, I love learning perioscopy, and the challenges that brings. Breaking boundaries with myofunctional therapy, and getting the word out as more parents discover that they have a child that’s tongue tied and miserable. WHY does no one know about this?? More dental folk need to learn, grow and know what to do to help these children and adults. There’s still so much to do and accomplish.

Thank you, my dear readers, for reading, commenting, giving me feedback, and pushing me to write. You can be sure I have much more to share.

Happy May!

Warmly,

~Barbara~

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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2 Comments

  1. TANIELLE

    This was such a great read, I have a similar beginning in dental hygiene, and it’s encouraging to see you found your way. I joined the ADHA this past February, and it’s been encouraging to work with so many wonderful hygienists to further our profession. Congratulations on the award.

    Reply
    • Barbara Tritz

      Tanielle,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’d love to hear your journey too. I feel sad when hygienists say they are burned out, there is so much value in this incredible profession and so many ways to grow. So glad you joined the ADHA,. I will be presenting there this June in New Orleans so please connect with me.
      Hugs, Barbara

      Reply

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