You might think that choosing a career on a whim wouldn’t work out, but for Bryanna Rogers, a whim, combined with a desire to help people, led her on a career path she not only loves – but wants to grow in.
“I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do. I got all the way to my college orientation and they asked, ‘What do you want to do?’” Bryanna recalled. “I just looked at my mom for the answer. She suggested I try something in dentistry because I had always loved going to the dentist and I was always on people about brushing their teeth.”
Bryanna’s experience outside of her comfort zone as a teenager is what really opened her up to a life devoted to understanding and helping people.
Bryanna grew up in a small town — the kind of place where everybody knows everybody. When she was a teenager, her dad got a job offer in Brunei, a tiny, oil-rich country on the island of Borneo in southeast Asia. The family picked up and moved into what Bryanna described as nothing short of a culture shock.
“It’s a Muslim country and I went in with a stereotype, but it just really opened up my eyes to there being a whole other world out there that needs to be seen,” Bryanna said. “I went to a British International School and spent four years there. I didn’t want to come back to the US, I loved it there.”
During Bryanna’s time abroad, she went on a school trip to Kenya and discovered just how much she enjoys volunteering with children. She and her class spent time helping in a local orphanage.
When she returned to the US to attend college, Bryanna knew she wanted a career that enabled her to help people – especially children. After her mom’s initial suggestion that Bryanna explore dentistry as an option, she shadowed a hygienist and fell in love with it.
Bryanna has been a hygienist with Dental Depot since May 2017 when she graduated from The University of Oklahoma’s dental hygiene program. In fact, she even did her externship with Dental Depot while she was still in school! Paired with a degree in health and exercise science, Bryanna has a well-rounded education on how to take care of the whole body.
“I really love that I get to not only clean people’s teeth, but I get to talk to them about their overall health,” Bryanna said. “A lot of it comes from taking care of the mouth – from what you put into it to how you take care of it – that’s where it all starts. I really like the education part of hygiene.”
“I was still within my first year of being out of hygiene school when [Dental Depot] gave me the opportunity to start numbing,” Bryanna said. “Most people are terrified of getting numb. It’s the biggest reason they don’t come to the dentist. And so, to take something that people are scared of and put them at ease … it’s really rewarding to me.
“Especially at this office. We get a lot of emergencies and same-day type treatment, and most of those patients are the frightened ones,” Bryanna continued. “You can just see that immediate relief once they’re numb and out of pain. It means a lot.”
For Bryanna, establishing a rapport with patients as soon as she comes into the room helps lay the foundation for a trusting relationship. She makes it her goal to ensure the patient’s comfort every step of the way, even if that means coming back another day when they’re feeling more confident.
Considering that most adults who have a fear of the dentist — and by extension, the process of getting numbed — had a bad experience at the dentist as a child, it’s extra important to avoid any potentially scary situations for her youngest patients.
“I do not want to traumatize a child. I won’t force them to do anything they’re not comfortable with,” Bryanna said. “With kids I take it step-by-step: we’re going to lean the chair back, then we’ll put on the topical and just slowly work it and talk to them. Most of them are okay, but I won’t lie to them – it’s not going to feel good, it’ll pinch a little – but I’ll get you through it.”
Bryanna doesn’t do it alone, though. And she recognizes just how important the dental assistants are to helping her patients feel comfortable. In fact, the only regret Bryanna had from her surprise party where she was named Employee of the Month was that she didn’t get a chance to tell all of her coworkers how much they meant to her, too!
“I’m really grateful to my office for nominating me. When I came around the corner and saw the camera, I was so overwhelmed,” Bryanna said. “It still gets me so worked up. I want to tell them how great they all are. It felt really good.”
During her time serving patients in both hygiene and general dentistry, Bryanna has realized she has a drive to do more for patients – she wants to become a dentist.
“I just know I can do more. There’s something inside of me that’s telling me there’s more out there for me to do to help people,” Bryanna said. “I’d really like to specialize in pediatric dentistry. I went to high school overseas and I’d like to go back there to give back as well.”
As for volunteering in the here and now, Bryanna enjoys participating in the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy (OK MOM) event every February. OK MOM is a two-day, free dental clinic offering treatment to patients who are uninsured, under-insured or would normally not have access to dental care. Patients are screened and routed through each area of the clinic to ensure they’re getting everything they need, including oral surgery, extractions, restorations, pediatrics and hygiene.
“I love volunteering for OK MOM. So far I’ve gone with my classmates from hygiene school and I really like what we do there,” Bryanna said. “I think everyone should volunteer for it.”
Volunteer registration for OK MOM 2020 opens October 15. The event will be held at the Payne Country Expo Center in Stillwater, OK.
When Bryanna isn’t at work, she spends time outdoors hiking long distances. During her Kenyan trip, she did a five-day hike to the top of Mt. Kenya, and back, and she says she wants to someday hike the entire United States. She isn’t alone on her hikes, either. Bryanna brings along her girlfriend and two pups, Charlie the Shih-poo and Norman the Goldendoodle.
“Charlie will hike up until a point and then he’s done, so I have a little carrying harness for him and he’ll just hang out,” Bryanna laughed. “Norman is still young, so he hasn’t been on any super long trips. But he likes camping or anywhere that he gets to be outside. Where there’s a stick, he’s there.”
Bryanna also enjoys traveling stateside and exploring Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. She plans to complete her prerequisites for dental school soon, and to apply to the OU School of Dentistry as her first choice.
Bryanna was nominated by her coworkers at Dental Depot Midwest City, who only had wonderful things to say about her and the hard work she gives to her team and patients. Most notably, office manager Lacey Cagle included: “Her love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is like no one I have ever seen.”
Dental Depot is a locally owned and operated family company. As such, we believe that the incredible group of doctors, hygienists, assistants and staff that make up Dental Depot are more than their job titles; they’re members of our extended family. In our family, we like to recognize when someone goes above and beyond, living the Dental Depot values. This June, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Bryanna Rogers.