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“You gave me my smile back”

July 6, 2022
Susan P. Burzynski, MSEd, RDH, FAADH, has a long list of professional accomplishments. One that makes her feel especially proud is providing dental care to veterans who've gone without, some for many years.
Jackie Sanders, MBA, RDH, Chief editor, RDH magazine

Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in their role and goes the extra mile in their job. The past two years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a daily difference. This week we honor Susan P. Burzynski, RDH, MSEd, FAADH. Nominate an outstanding colleague, or yourself!

“You gave me my smile back”

I have volunteered since 2017 for the State University of New York of Buffalo’s Give the Vets a Smile. As many of my family members have served in the military, this clinic is near and dear to my heart. This program has approximately 200 servicemen and women who have not had professional dental care for years.

One servicewoman told me she was ashamed of her teeth and that she doesn’t smile. She explained her husband had passed away in the line of duty, leaving her with two small daughters. This resulted in her turning to alcohol. After completing the prophylaxis, I spoke with the vet regarding her homecare. She said, “No one ever explained this to me!” I handed her a mirror, and she broke down in tears and said, “You gave me my smile back!” Then she asked if she could hug and kiss me, to which I said yes.

More PIRA winners

Breaking the cycle of dental trauma among Canadian Natives

This "number one ninja" makes her team proud

Also from Susan’s submission

As president of the Buffalo Dental Hygienist Association (BDHA) from 2014 to 2018, I organized multiple sealant clinics that were held at Erie Community College School of Dental Hygiene (ECC). As a member of Westchester Dental Hygienists Association (WDHA), I have volunteered at Oak Orchard in Brockport, providing dental hygiene services to those who cannot afford care.

I received my associate’s degree from Erie Community College and my Bachelor of Science degree as well as my Master of General Education from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. I have been awarded the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction in 2010, a Fellowship from American Academy of Dental Hygiene (AADH) in 2011, Excellence in Leadership and Mentoring in 2013 from the Dental Hygienists Association of the State of New York (NYSDHA), and the Stand Up Seven Educator Award from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) in 2022.

As a full-time clinician, I have written articles for RDH magazine and Dental Product Reports and worked as a key opinion leader (KOL) for GC America and Young Dental. In these positions I have conducted multiple continuing education courses for various organizations. In addition, I volunteered my dental hygiene services to veterans who have served our country. I currently serve as president of WDHA, alternate director to NYDHA, and alternate delegate to ADHA.

About the Author

Jackie Sanders, MBA, RDH | Chief editor, RDH magazine

Jackie Sanders, MBA, RDH, has over four decades of continual career development and experience in dentistry. As the chief editor of RDH magazine, she strives to remain a proactive personality in the continual advancement of the profession. She has been defined as a motivated trendsetter and dependable colleague and is inspired by her true passion of helping others to achieve their personal goals.