The team at iQuest Media had the pleasure of interviewing the very personable Pina Mazza a successful Registered Dental Hygienist, to get the scoop on how she worked her way up in the Dental Hygiene Industry.
We asked: Was Dental Hygiene a passion that made you go this path?
Pina: To be very honest, I was on a very different career path,I was going to study microbiology. It was only after a very close friend of mine told me about the profession of dental hygiene in the last months of my grade 13 year,that I felt instantly drawn to pursue dental hygiene. In the last few months of high school, I changed my entire educational path to become a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH).
All these years later, (23 to be exact), I had never regretted my decision. In fact, each year of dental hygiene practice, has brought to me more fulfillment of both mind and spirit than I had ever imagined. My work as a dental hygienist became the expression of my passion and commitment, to help my patients achieve a healthy smile for a lifetime.
We asked: What is a typical day for you?
Pina: A typical day for me as a Registered Dental Hygienist is centered around providing the best quality of care for my clients. Each day, I ensure that there is always sufficient time scheduled for each client to provide optimal dental hygiene care, and answer any concerns. Each day, I ensure client care is provided in a gentle, caring and clean environment.
We asked: What training did you receive before becoming a Registered Dental Hygienist?
Pina: In 1990, becoming a dental hygienist was not a direct path of study, as it is today. The requirements needed to become a dental hygienist at the time were:
- Being a certified dental assistant first
- Having 1 year work experience as a certified dental assistant
- 2 years of dental hygiene education
- Writing the board exams to practice dental hygiene with the College of Dental Surgeons.
Therefore, there was a minimum of 4 years required before one could practice as a Registered Dental Hygienist.
We asked: Is there any part of your job that you find specifically challenging?
Pina: The most challenging aspect of my profession is easing and alleviating the anxiety and fear most clients have from years of traumatic dental experiences.
We asked: How do you deal with challenging patients and children?
Pina: Some of the ways I address challenging situations, patients and children are:
- I always ensure sufficient time is scheduled for all routine dental hygiene appointments and extra time is scheduled for all new clients. I reserve 1.5 hours for existing client appointments and 2 hours for all new clients.
- I make every effort to personally greet all my clients and review any concerns or anxieties they may have before I provide oral health care to them.
- 2 years of dental hygiene education
- It is very important to me to develop a rapport with all my clients and get to know them just a little as individuals first.
I do my best to ensure all my clients feel comfortable with me as a clinician and I always take the time to inform clients of what they can expect to experience during the treatment.
In all my years of dental hygiene practice, I have found one principle to be true. When the focus of each client’s appointment is to provide the best quality oral health care and the best quality of client care overall, most challenging situations respond positively and can be overcome.
We asked: How do you stay updated with the ever-changing technology and the ongoing advancement in the dental hygiene industry?
Pina: As a Registered Dental Hygienist, we are regulated by the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO). As a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) we are required to do 75 hours of continuing education each year. In addition, we are required by the CDHO to maintain a learning portfolio and practice profile as part of the Quality Assurance Regulation. Furthermore, we are subject to yearly audits by the CDHO.
Each time I have provided oral health care for a client and educated them about oral health, it has been a gratifying experience for me. However, there have certainly been a few moments in my professional journey that have allowed tremendous professional growth and professional gratification.
We asked: Could you please describe to us a tough situation that you have faced, one that doesn’t happen very often, but the result is gratifying and stands out in your career so far.
Pina: Here are a few of the many:
Due to a client specific situation, I have had to devise a very “client specific treatment plan” that allowed a client with extreme anxiety from dental hygiene care to ease, and enabled him to receive dental hygiene treatment over many appointments. My commitment to help alleviate the anxiety, fear and extremely sensitive gag reflex, through shorter appointment times and minimal treatment at each appointment, enabled my client to receive the dental hygiene treatment needed. Over time,and together,we were able to achieve optimum oral health. My client now receives dental hygiene care every three months and has for the last many years. The anxiety and fear have diminished and he values oral health greatly.
As a dental hygienist, I have a responsibility to examine the head and neck area for any abnormalities. If any concerns are detected, I must refer the client to see a medical doctor. With a few particular clients, strongly following up with them to ensure they sought medical attention,for concerns detected during the head and neck exam, lead to a medical diagnosis that ultimately needed immediate attention and improved her overall health.
And again as a dental hygienist, diagnosing and treating gum disease has been always a fundamental part of my profession. However, being able to recognize and evaluate when oral health disease and gum disease may be related to systemic disease is paramount. For example, diabetes and gum disease have a strong correlation. Evaluating the persistence of gum disease along with other health factors and taking the appropriate steps to refer to a medical doctor when necessary has been gratifying. After referring my client to a medical doctor for possible systemic disease related to her chronic gingivitis, she was informed she was diabetic.She was not aware of her medical condition, since she had not seen a doctor in many years. Working together with my client and her medical doctor, we were able to help her oral health improve, become healthy and stable and bring healing to her overall health.
There is so much more to being a dental hygienist than cleaning (scaling) teeth. The gratification comes from recognizing and appreciating the entire patient during dental hygiene treatment and not just their teeth and gums.
iQuest Media: Thank you very much Pina Mazza for your valuable feedback and the success stories that you shared with us today.
To book your dental cleaning appointment, contact your Vaughan Dental Hygiene clinic today!