Do you believe in fate? Melissa Stevens, a dental hygienist of more than 20 years, does. She’s put her full faith in the belief that there’s a plan for all of us, and sometimes it takes meeting the right person to help you onto the right path.
For Melissa, that person is Skip, her best friend and husband of 33 years.
Despite going to the same high school and only being a year apart, the two never crossed paths until Skip was cruising past the Sonic on 12th street in Moore in the summer of 1982. Melissa said she remembers he had a “nice looking truck” but assumed he probably had a girlfriend, while Skip had noticed her vibrant strawberry-blonde hair. They exchanged smiles in passing, and Melissa thought that was the end of it.“
Twelfth Street used to be really busy, so he couldn’t stop, but he went to a friend’s house and dropped people off, and came back and found me,” Melissa recalled. “That’s how we met and started dating. Three years later we got married.”
Melissa said that Skip knew by day two of their budding relationship that he was going to marry her. Melissa, a self-declared skeptic, said she took two whole weeks to decide Skip was the one for her.
“He’s my best friend. He’s the one I’ll tell everything and anything to,” Melissa said. “That’s the thing. You’ve got to be able to talk to each other and tell each other stuff. And sometimes it’s things that might hurt the other person’s feelings but you have to be able to talk to one another.
“Marriage is a lot of listening, forgiveness, and talking to each other instead of assuming,” Melissa continued. “Any good relationship is just an understanding of each other. Sometimes what you’re feeling and going through at that moment means putting someone first, before yourself.”
That open communication between these partners is what led Melissa to become a hygienist, actually.
Skip had off-handedly mentioned he was sore after a thorough visit to his hygienist. They compared notes and found that Melissa had never had her teeth properly cleaned. Skip helped Melissa get switched over to his dentist where she had her first real cleaning with an RDH named Marchelle Crow.
Melissa had been a pharmacy tech for years at St. Anthony’s Hospital downtown. Pharmacy school was the logical choice for her and she’d been accepted into the pharmacy program at the University of Oklahoma.
“When I was young I remember getting polished and getting x-rays and somebody coming in and pecking on my teeth to check for cavities,” Melissa recalled. “But until I was 21, no one had scraped on my teeth.”
Marchelle had not only given Melissa the cleaning she needed, but inspired her to pursue a career in hygiene to give people the care that they deserved.
“I was only two weeks away from going into pharmacy school when I told them, ‘No, I’m not coming’ and I went into hygiene school [at OU], instead,” Melissa said.
Melissa and Skip married in 1985 and soon after, while both were in school at OU, they found out they were expecting their first child, Matthew. The couple came up with a plan to support their growing family without giving up on their educations, and they stuck to it. Together, they made it through by taking turns, one working while the other went to school.
“Sometimes Skip went first and I worked full-time. Then when I went into hygiene school he worked and I was in school full-time,” Melissa recalled. “We’ve always both been going at some point, whether it was one class or two classes or full-time until I finished first.
“Along the way, they had their second child, Eric, and in 1995 Melissa graduated from hygiene school. She took her first hygienist position with the director of St. Anthony’s dental clinic at her private practice across the street from the hospital.
Melissa has been with Dental Depot for a total of 12 years now and said she feels confident that this is where she’ll stay. For her, one reason to stay is because of the job security offered by a group practice like Dental Depot, where if a doctor leaves, another will be brought in and hygienists like Melissa won’t find themselves looking for work. On the other hand, Melissa says she also loves the support and sense of family that Dental Depot provides.
“We have such a good support system with Candice and Kim and Tara and Karrisa,” Melissa said, referring to the recruiting and clinical support teams at our executive leadership office. “If something is going on, they’re going to help you. You’re not having to worry about what you’re putting your fellow hygienists through.
”It wasn’t too long ago that Melissa needed to utilize that support system when, in 2015, she found out that Skip had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. “It was rough. He was very young for it and had no family history,” Melissa said. “It makes you realize how much that person means to you and you want to hold onto them longer, stronger, and never let go.”
“Luckily, the Stevenson Cancer Center, to which Melissa is forever grateful, was able to treat Skip’s cancer. He’s now in remission and their future looks much more hopeful.
“I don’t know that it made me a stronger person, but it made me realize that I needed to love life and to love harder,” Melissa said.
Melissa and Skip are close with their family. Mathew, 25, just got married in April. Eric is 21 and in college to also become a physical therapist, like Skip.
Right now, Melissa and Skip are renovating a trailer at Lake Eufaula where they enjoy spending time with Skip’s brother and sister-in-law, taking out the Wave Runner and pontoon boat.
When she’s not with her family, Melissa spends time with her hygiene team outside of work, including past employee of the month, Linda Frazier. Whenever Melissa has free time, she stays connected with her hygiene school classmates.
Melissa was nominated for Employee of the Month by her coworkers at Dental Depot South OKC. “Melissa has shown us what the peak of southern hospitality is like. Her kind demeanor, warm heart, and love for her patients and coworkers goes beyond regular norms. No matter what the day it is her attitude is always altruistic, affectionate, and ridiculously considerate. She will go out of her way just to ask whether or not you’re doing okay even if she is swamped with work. Personally, I couldn’t have a better mentor than her. Melissa deserves this.” David Nguyen, RDH.
“She is always here to bring a smile on everyone’s face. She does the best she can at helping educate patients on dental hygiene. Almost all of her patients come back and are excited to see her.” Kali Kight, patient care coordinator.
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 Melissa Stevens.