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 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 Heather Bolton, BSDH.
Her extremely high stress level during dental hygiene school led Heather Bolton to create Yogateeth. She realized that “Taking care of our minds, body, and souI is not only self-care, but it creates better hygienists.” Here is her story.
“I decided to do one of the scariest things I had ever done in my life: I applied to dental hygiene school. What was I thinking? But I knew I would rather fail than not try at all. I wanted to be the person to increase other’s confidence in their smiles, educate them like my hygienist had educated me, apply my yoga skills for anxious patients, and all the other terrific things dental hygienists get to do!
“When I was accepted, I was so excited. But then I thought, ‘Oh, no! Now I have to do this!’ Obstacles appear in everyone’s lives, including mine. Basically, I felt like I had the entire world against me during dental hygiene school. I was so stressed for so long that one day I fainted and was sent to the ER. Stressful days happen to all of us, but I realized I could either complain or make a change. I decided to change.
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“I began posting positive messages on our dental hygiene school Instagram page, and the Yogateeth Company was created. I shared the message that taking care of our minds, body, and souI is not only self-care, but it creates better hygienists. I began advocating mindfulness for dental professionals and students. It changed my life when I started focusing on helping others, and this influenced me to become a better hygienist and friend.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to hear a patient say, ‘Today is the first time I didn’t cry at the dentist.” Yes, obstacles arise, but when you set your mind to it, success can still happen!”
Heather Bolton, BSDH, @theyogihygienist, is the founder of Yogateeth, a podcaster, an author, and a yoga teacher. She graduated with a BS in behavioral science in 2012, then completed her yoga teacher training before returning to school to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
While in school, Heather served as the SADHA chapter secretary and cochair of the professional excellence committee. The college awarded her the Three Missions Award, and her SADHA chapter gave her the Most Likely to be the Next Esther Wilkins award for being the most influential person of their class. Her passions are periodontics and helping patients with dental anxiety.
Heather is currently pursuing her MBA in health-care management, and she serves as secretary on the ThatDeafRDH Foundation board. She founded Yogateeth to advocate for mindful dentistry. Her mantra is, "Better weird than mean," and she admires genuinely kind people. Oral health education is prevention, and prevention is kindness!
Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!