Each month, the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who goes the extra mile in their job to change their patients’ lives, influence their patients’ health, and make a daily difference. This month we honor Yanira Casasola, RDHAP, for breaking down barriers to dental care for priority populations.
The concept of living in an underprivileged community was not something Yanira Casasola, RDHAP, simply read about in school; it was her reality growing up in the United States as a Latina immigrant. Her personal experiences led her to become an independent practice mobile dental hygienist, bringing preventive oral treatment to communities with financial hardships and limited access to care. Yanira’s practice focuses on providing on-site quality treatment similar to what one would receive in traditional dental office settings, while breaking down barriers to access to care for people who are underprivileged.
“I strive to raise oral health awareness and promote oral disease prevention among priority populations by engaging with community members and their families through oral health services and education. Through my work as a mobile dental provider, I have had the privilege of working closely with families in emergency housing facilities and domestic violence centers, as well as with victims of human trafficking and elementary school children, by providing them with basic preventive hygiene treatment, oral hygiene education, and referral resources,” says Yanira. These treatments include prophylaxis, fluoride applications, sealant placement, nutritional counseling, tobacco cessation counseling, and oral screenings.
Read about more outstanding hygienists
Through her community clinical experiences, Yanira has witnessed the need for oral health literacy. It is apparent that the lack of oral health awareness and the continuous rise in oral disease among priority populations need to be addressed. “My own personal experiences as a Latina immigrant and my professional work with the community have inspired me to focus my career on breaking cultural and linguistic barriers that prevent Hispanic communities and ethnic groups from accessing resources to improve their health and quality of life,” she says.
Yanira is a bilingual dental health professional with 13 years of experience in dentistry. She began her career as a registered dental assistant, working for several nonprofit organizations to provide accessible health care for all. These experiences led her to pursue higher education in dental hygiene to enable her to more effectively bring awareness and oral education to communities.
Yanira received her Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene from West Los Angeles College (WLAC) in 2019. She has provided treatment at VA clinics, regional centers, schools, nonprofits, and community clinics. Yanira went on to complete the registered dental hygienist in alternative practice (RDHAP) training at WLAC and has been a licensed RDHAP since 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health at California State University Northridge and will graduate in winter of 2023.
Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!