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Why I Became a Dental Hygienist

Posted October 4, 2019

Tonya Lanthier

It’s that time of year again – yes, it’s Dental Hygiene Month! For me, it’s an opportunity to reflect on my journey in the dental industry that began 25 years ago, when I first practiced as a registered dental hygienist. My mission of providing the best possible patient care has intensified over the years, and I’ve been able to elevate and extend my mission significantly by caring for and focusing on the thousands of hygienists and dentists who deliver that same level of care to their patients.

My Start in Dentistry

But if I were to truly reflect back to the moment that this profession touched my heart, it came well before I picked up a scaler. When I was just eight years old, I went soaring over my bike handles and faceplanted into a parked car, knocking out my permanent tooth and fracturing my upper anterior. I was obviously terrified, but after care from an ace ER team, Dr. Busch from Gainesville, Georgia implanted tooth #8 back in my mouth after it had been knocked out for hours.  

That bike accident and my subsequent care was a powerful and pivotal moment in my life. The team did amazing work – the tooth they re-implanted lasted 18 years! They also did good work–they made me feel safe and cared for. And I was. I knew, through this profession, I could help others to not feel scared, afraid, self-conscious or anxious. Our work has the power to change lives for the better. It certainly changed mine.

My Struggle and Shift in Dentistry

But if my career is a road, at some point, it started feeling like the road less traveled. My dental office felt like family, but 10 years after I left dental hygiene school, I longed to start my own, actual family. I struggled to conceive and fertility doctor visits were a challenge to schedule with my full-time patient schedule. So, I shifted to part-time and began picking up temp work in offices all over Atlanta. Finally, I was able to make my schedule work and, ultimately, got pregnant with my twin girls!   

Making that shift was extremely difficult because I’ve always been ambitious and a good networker, but it was certainly tiresome, trailblazing work and I knew that I needed to create a way for all dental professionals to have that kind of access and ability to connect so that they, too, could better control their careers and live their best lives. 

New Beginnings with DentalPost

Thus, DentalPost was hatched! I continued seeing patients while building both a business and a family. But, after 23 years of practicing and 13 years of building the company, I had to make a choice. The decision to leave was not easy – I cried five times writing the letter to my dentist after 13 years working side-by-side.  

To this day, I still miss seeing patients and helping to make a difference in their lives. That’s why when I hear someone complain about the profession, my heart sinks because I know they haven’t yet found their purpose in dentistry. Sometimes, it takes some off-roading to uncover it. And that’s what DentalPost aims to do – to get you on the “just right” path and place.

60,000 dental offices use our proven and well-honed tools at DentalPost to hire better using data from Emotional Intelligence and DISC personality assessments, Core Values, Workplace Culture assessments and more! 

My Dental Hygiene “Family”

Im forever grateful for the accident that set me on my path in the dental profession, and the journey that has followed. I get to live my dream by helping my colleagues in the field find jobs or build dream teams, ultimately helping them pay the bills, buy the car they want or go on that dream vacation.

This month, I celebrate my dental hygiene “family” and every month as we work together to help improve the lives of those we touch.


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We connect and educate more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel.

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