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Bringing smiles into schools

July 26, 2022
Kelsey Hinterleitner, RDH, was devastated when hygiene students were not able to return to elementary schools to offer oral care to children. So she joined a nonprofit to do just that.
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 providing patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a daily difference. This week we honor Kelsey Hinterleitner, RDH.

Kelsey wrote, “Dental hygiene has been a long, exciting journey! I found that my love of dental hygiene, education, public service, and working with children led me to where I am today. As the world slowly opened up following COVID, so did dental offices. But in northern Wisconsin, the county dental school programs did not reopen. This hit me hard. I was devastated.

More PIRA winners

Giving her all to help her community
A personal touch that inspires her patients

“For many students, a dental hygienist in the school setting is the only oral health provider they see. I called Bridging Brighter Smiles, a not-for-profit organization that provides comprehensive services and care to students in area schools throughout southern Wisconsin. I wanted to volunteer because we needed it where I live. Everything happened fast. By the spring of 2022, I had started going into two schools to provide cleanings, fluoride, sealants, and silver diamine fluoride. Most children are covered by state insurance, and the closest office accepting both this insurance and new patients was about 60 miles away.

“Next year, I hope to be reaching more than seven schools and the smiling faces of many more children. I didn't realize how fast this would progress when I asked if I could get this started in my area. I have fallen in love with being part of an outreach for students for their oral health, as well as a friendly face they can talk to.”

Kelsey graduated from Nicolet Area Technical College in northern Wisconsin with high honors and is a recipient of the Golden Scaler Award. She’s been a clinician for four years. She works in a private practice three days per week, and during the school year she works two days per week with Bridging Brighter Smiles. She is a school board member for her two daughters’ school and is studying for her bachelor's degree in elementary education. She loves all things teeth and oral health.

Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!

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. 

Updated February 28, 2022