From wanting her own sweet shop as a child to opening Wales’ first registered dental hygienist-led practice, it’s been a fascinating journey for the mother of three
Where are you from?
I was born in Birmingham but have lived in Shropshire since I was three. As a child I remember regularly going to the shops and buying the biggest bag of sweets. I wanted to be a sweet shop lady, which is dreadful, looking back. I even used to run the school tuck shop, which was full of sweets in those days.
How did you move from the sweet shop dream to dental hygiene?
When I was 13 I did work experience at the dental practice of my teacher’s husband. The minute I walked in I felt very much at home; I loved everything about the workings of a dental practice. Ironically, as a child I was never keen to go to the dentist myself, as I thought I would always need a filling. If only I’d known!
I started working there every school holiday – it was such good fun and I realised this was going to be my chosen profession. When I qualified, I was keen to work in a practice that truly valued the importance of a dental hygienist, so I could fully develop my skills and teach people how to care for their teeth and gums. I was fortunate to find a forward-thinking dentist called Willie Jack, in Newtown, Powys, who was years ahead of his time, not just as a dentist himself but in terms of dental hygiene. Willie allowed me to introduce a serious prevention and therapeutic programme and we worked exceptionally well together for 25 years.
Why did you decide to set up a hygienist-led practice?
A hygienist practice is a new concept, but I do think that it’s the way forward. A common misconception is that a hygienist’s role is just to scale and polish teeth, and quiz you on your flossing habits, but there’s much, much more to it than that. At our practice, prevention is our priority and nothing is more valuable than keeping your own natural teeth, so we go to great lengths to support you to do this.
Gum disease is known as the “silent” disease and is usually painless and can go unnoticed until the late stages. Many people think bleeding gums is normal, but it’s not – it’s a warning sign and can lead to tooth loss. I want people to know that taking good care of your oral health is essential for your general health and wellbeing. On our practice website, you can get a personal dental score by filling in an online questionnaire.
Do you have a dentist in the practice?
Yes, Dr Rhian Lewis has just joined the team. She shares the practice’s values regarding preventative care and minimally invasive dentistry. She’s a fantastic, gentle and empathetic dentist with excellent cosmetic and aesthetic skills and provides orthodontics for adults, too.
Tell us about the work you do in East Africa.
I’ve been to Tanzania on four occasions with the dental charity Bridge2Aid. It has been the most rewarding and worthwhile experience in my dental career. In rural Tanzania, dental provision is very limited, or in many areas non-existent.
I go out with a small team of UK dentists, hygienists and nurses to teach Tanzanian healthcare workers to take out teeth. Even more importantly, we train them to give oral health education so they’re able to give preventative advice to people living in rural communities. This means when we return home they can carry on the good work, making this a very sustainable programme. In June this year, I head back to Tanzania for the fifth time.
• To support Yvonne with her next visit to Tanzania visit her Just Giving page
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Yvonne Wood Dental Hygiene, The Courtyard, Glansevern Hall, Berriew, Welshpool, Powys SY21 8AH. Tel: 01686 640777. www.yvonnewood.dental
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