Being a “Bio – Logical” Dental Healthcare Superhero

Barbara Tritz
· October 10, 2020 ·

8 minutes

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. In honor of this great profession I want to share with you my Bio-Logical story.

I am a bio- logical dental healthcare superhero out to save the world. This is my story:

I started out as a regular dental hygienist. Graduated near the top of my class and totally clueless about dental hygiene but I knew I did not want to be a clinical hygienist, that I was “better than that”. Little did I know the fates had other ideas. I went on to get my Bachelor of Science in teaching dental auxiliaries from UNC Chapel Hill. Then went to sunny Florida to do my student teaching where I failed miserably- I knew little to nothing about being a dental hygienist so could not teach anything about dental hygiene. My apologies to the St Pete JC class of 1982.  At least I was smart enough to realize I needed to be a dental hygienist before I could teach being a dental hygienist. I found a position in a high-end cosmetic/implant office – a place far ahead of its time before cosmetics and implants were all the rage. 

I was lucky.

 I had a handsome boyfriend, a good job and a sunny place to live, all ingredients for a great start to a splendid life.  I should have been happy. 

Pick, Poke Polish, Repeat

But instead, I was miserable. It was, in fact the worst year of my young life.  My career as a dental hygienist was not at all what I envisioned. I had gone into hygiene because I wanted to be a healer, to help people be healthy and stop dental diseases. That was the furthest thing from what I was in reality doing.  Instead I was a glorified cleaning machine, churning out people/clean teeth every 45 minutes.  I was the “Cleaning Lady”.  I saw 10 patients a day, 50 patients a week. Monday was the roughest day, with only 49 more patients to treat before I could reach Friday at 5:00. I would pray for cancellations and “no shows”, especially by Friday at 3 pm. (but they always showed…)

 The patients all had dental disease, and so much stuff on their teeth and they did not care.  I was determined to remove it all.  I did my best but was always running behind. No time for dental education and oral hygiene instruction but everyone wanted their “free” toothbrush. (Which they used until I gave them their next one.)  They would return with the very same “stuff’ on their teeth six months later. 

I would silently cry in the dark room as I developed x-rays in the dip tank, realizing I had lost a film to the bottom of the dip tank and would have to retake that one. I said many bad words in there… 

To say the least, I was frustrated with my choice of career. There was no healing, no education and no imparting pearls of dental wisdom to my patients. Pick, poke, polish repeat. Ten more patients to go, wishing and hoping Friday would get here soon. I hated my job, the heat, the lack of seasons, the moisture, and my noncommittal boyfriend. Not in any particular order. I knew I could not last 20 years doing this job, for that was all it was, not a career, but a lowly job. Drudgery and so unfulfilling.

So, after one long year as a dental hygienist, I left Florida, the boyfriend, and that job, moved 2000 miles north, enrolled in graduate school in the beautiful state of Maine and left dental hygiene forever. I went to school at night and worked during the day in dental sales. I had every intention of leaving hygiene for good, never to pick up a scaler again.  If that was the best dental office- high end, excellent dentistry then I could see no way forward for me to ever participate in this career again. 

The Fates

Serendipity has a way of taking over and guiding my life at times.  This was one of those times.  It guided me gently back to healthcare, because, well it wasn’t done with me yet…  I cold called dental offices in my short career in sales. Luckily, I happened on a dental office that had a beautiful piece of equipment in the dental hygiene room, a phase contrast microscope, and I asked about it. They shared how and why they used it and then I asked them for a job. They gave me one. And I fell in love with dental hygiene.  (Thank you fates and Dr. Glen Knock. I will be forever grateful.) 

Total Dental Geek

I learned about bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  I learned more about periodontal disease and caring for patients. I grew in knowledge and knew I would never be a buff-n- go hygienist ever again. I could see a path forward to be that healer I envisioned and longed to be.  I had time with patients, and tools to get the job done. I had a dentist that supported me and did not literally look down his nose and correct me for every little thing I did wrong (and believe me, I did much wrong but how you teach someone goes a long way to really helping them grow professionally).  It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever grateful.

Thanks to Glen, I became the healing hygiene dental health professional super hero, instead of a cleaning lady. It changed my life.  Serendipitous for sure and forever grateful.

Fast Forward

I am still in love with my choice of dental hygiene and my dental career. Last year in St Louis, MO, I received The Hufriedy-ADHA Master Clinician Award at the Annual ADHA national meeting -icing on the cake! That was an incredibly big deal.

I am still practicing clinical hygiene three days a week and loving it even more. I could not even imagine what career I could have changed to- I was made for this. In addition to using the microscope with every patient, I also found ozone, nutrition, subgingival irrigation (a Waterpik on steroids), perioscopy ( a tiny camera on steroids), Fotona laser therapy, Platelet Rich Fibrin therapy, Bio-botanicals, and many more natural and gentle products.  I continued my training and became an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist, helping my patients relearning how to breathe, chew, swallow, sleep and grow a healthy mouth and airway.  

I recently completed a course from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and am officially a “biologically accredited” dental hygienist. Last month, I had the honor presenting a continuing education course on being bio-logical on their main stage in Nashville, Tennessee.

 Little did I know, I was a “biological hygienist” before I even knew there was such a thing.  Tools make the man, or so they say, and I believe it. 

Being Green

I found my forever dental office home- a true “green” biological dental office with the appropriate name of Green City Dental. I never envisioned myself a crunchy granola type and thought that holistic offices just “didn’t do fluoride and did do recycling”. 

How very wrong I was.

There is so much more to this kind of office. It is a philosophy of finding the “root cause” of the disease.  Not just drilling and scraping at the surface of the disease and infection. “Bio-logically” looking at the inflammation, infection, and damage it causes.  Dental disease has many causes and by only looking at the surface and repairing, the diseases remain and pops up on another tooth. Our patients come from far and wide because they are tired of this whack-a-hole type of treatment and dental care.  Drill, fill, bill, repeat.  Pick, poke, polish, repeat.  Disease remains and just gets worse. 

The truth is, we can find the root causes, and heal the mouth. By healing the mouth, we can then start healing the body. It is all connected.  The mouth is the start of the gut and everything happens in the gut. We, as a profession are missing this vital connection. 

We must be aware dental disease is but a symptom of a much bigger problem within the body.  Prehistoric man did not brush or floss yet had little dental disease. What changed was our modern diet of processed foods devoid of nutrients, as well as mushy soft food that requires no chewing. Our diet is the real key to systemic health and wellness.

Part II

It is now the second half of my clinical career. What’s next as I look to this phase of my life? Venturing onto Instagram, recording videos, more public speaking, research, and of course blog writing, and expanding my skills to help more people heal from the destruction of dental diseases. (My 20 year old self would never thought I could in fact stand up in front of people, speaking and presenting.) Finally, I have things to teach others and hopefully I learned how to be a better educator along this journey.

My goal is now looking at how to once and for all, improve  and elevate the profession of dental hygiene. I know there are other hygienists out there that have experienced that same frustrations and disappointment I felt.

Lots of hard work and dedication to a fabulous career.

 

Still smiling after all these years

Being Bio-Logical

I am so thankful to this incredible profession. All the wonderful patients I have had the privilege of working with on their healing journey, as well as all the dental professionals I have collaborated with along this long and winding road have challenged my thinking to help improve myself as well as grow this profession.  Writing this blog has also made a huge difference in my world, causing me to research products, things, and techniques to enhance my care, improve my skills and better help my patients. I thank you for the opportunity to share all my information with you. When my daughter told me I needed to write a blog, I did not think anyone would read it. How wrong I was. I am so very glad you have taken the time to read, and I am humbled to be a part of your wellness journey. Thank you for that opportunity. I have so much more to share with you – hot buttons like fluoride, sealants and root canals come to mind. Prepare to burn some sacred dental cows…

Having had just one miserable year was well worth the price I paid to be where I am now.   Thankfully, the fates knew I wasn’t done with dental hygiene.  How lucky I am.

Be well and smile often my friends,

Sincerely,

Barbara

Biological Healthcare Super Hero

 

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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