Johnson Article 6375417d148ef

Helping break the cycle of poor oral health

Nov. 16, 2022
Oral health is not a priority in this RDH's rural community, and she wants that to change. Keisha Johnson is seeing success—one patient at a time.

Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in his or her role and goes the extra mile. The past two and a half years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those who provide patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a difference every day. This week we honor Keisha Johnson, RDH.

"The reason I became a dental hygienist is because I wanted to make a difference in my community while doing something I enjoy. I live in a rural area where dental health is not a priority and there are not many African American dental professionals. Growing up, I always wanted a beautiful and healthy smile, so I took pride in taking care of my teeth.

"I knew I could achieve my goal by completing the dental hygiene program. When I completed the program, I went to work in a public health center for 14 years. During my time in public health, I met some amazing people. I enjoyed educating them and seeing the difference I could make in their lives. Many patients I’ve seen were very fearful of the dentist, but they now love to come for their recall appointments because they enjoy the experience.

More PIRA honorees

Corina Layton
Joanne Rozner

"I remember the time I gave one of my patients her first cleaning ever, and she got to see her teeth without all the calculus and heavy stain. She teared up because she was so thankful. At each and every visit I go above and beyond to make my patients feel comfortable, and they leave feeling more educated about their oral health. This helps break the cycle of poor oral health in my community.

"I was born and raised in rural Littleton, North Carolina. I graduated from Halifax Community College in 2007 with an associate degree in dental hygiene. Most of my dental career I worked in public health because that’s my passion. I really enjoy helping people and educating them about their oral health, so I continue to educate myself daily. 

"I like to set and achieve goals. As an African American hygienist, I work hard to lead by example and be a role model for the younger generation. I take pride in offering a great experience to every patient I see. When I’m not working at the office, in my spare time I enjoy bowling with my family and movie night. I have three beautiful kids who are 20,18, and 10."

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