At Heartland Dental, our dental hygienists are elite patient care providers. As providers, they have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to impact oral health – from partnering with supported doctors to being an advocate for patients. Kerri Knowles has been a traveling dental hygienist with Heartland Dental for nearly 10 years. Read first-hand how an unforeseen journey helped her find a home.
“I went to dental hygiene school in Pueblo, Colorado and graduated in 2004. After graduation, I worked as a hygienist in a private practice for two years. My husband was in the Army, and in 2006, we were give orders to move to Rock Island, Illinois. The hygiene market was super saturated, so for a little less than a year I worked at Dillard’s in the mall. I was applying and selling makeup for Lancôme – I am not a makeup artist whatsoever! My husband saw an advertisement for a full-time hygienist at Heartland Dental and encouraged me to apply. At first I said, ‘No way! I’d rather apply makeup (awfully) on peoples’ faces than work for a dental support organization!’ Because that is what my hygiene instructors had always preached to us. Today, I’m glad that I listened to my husband’s encouragement. I applied for the job, got the position and have been so blessed ever since.
“One of the most rewarding things I have experience, and I’m most grateful for, is being a dental hygiene mentor. I love this because I feel that I am able to give back, in sense, by helping my fellow hygienists.”
Working with such an amazing company has made me a way better hygienist than I ever believed I could be. I’ve had the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment: lasers, VELscope, digital imagery, iTero, scanners, etc. as well as communication skills and strategies that help me interact more efficiently with the supported doctors and patients that I work with. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend countless continuing education courses and earn credits all through Heartland Dental. A few of my favorite ‘perks’ are being able to mentor and assist other dental hygienists and work and learn with some pretty awesome supported doctors throughout the company – you don’t always get this chance!
A typical day in the dental hygiene world for me is always waking up and feeling blessed and grateful that I get to take care of patients that are depending on me to educate them on their oral health. We usually start with a morning huddle – in this meeting we get our ‘road map’ for the day. In these meetings we learn about yesterday, today and tomorrow, and where our opportunities lie. Were there any struggles? If so, where? What can we do to fix those issues? What worked? How can we incorporate that into today? When the meeting has concluded, we wait for patients to arrive and take on the day! No day is the same, which helps keep our careers exciting and different. We might see re-care patients, mostly prophy and periodontal maintenance, mixed in with new patient exams (my favorite!), scaling and root planning using the laser, Arestin if needed and assisted the supported doctor with anesthesia whenever necessary. Being on the travel team, I get to work in different supported offices, different teams and different supported doctors. You definitely get a variety of not only procedures, but people and personalities too.
One of the most rewarding things I have experience, and I’m most grateful for, is being a dental hygiene mentor. I love this because I feel that I am able to give back, in sense, by helping my fellow hygienists. Whether they have just graduated, or are brand-new with the company, or may just have some struggles they need help getting over – I’m proud to help them overcome their obstacles. Dental hygiene is my passion, and I love helping, teaching and giving back to the community!
Heartland Dental has made my journey as a hygienist 1,000 times better. I’m happy to have found a home here, and I hope to be a lifer with this company.”