October may be the start to the spooky season (and Dental Hygiene Month to boot!), but there’s nothing to fear from Tori Scott, a registered dental hygienist at Dental Depot Yukon. Tori embodies compassion and gratitude and after more than a decade of dentistry, she continues to approach her patients wholeheartedly. She carries herself with all the patience and positivity of someone who has found their calling and always puts her full effort into improving and learning.
It isn’t just the professional opportunities that Tori loves at Dental Depot, it’s the relationships she has with her patients and coworkers that matter the most. Like many hygienists, Tori has the responsibility of numbing patients for procedures and it’s here that her empathy is on full display. But before we jump into how she makes arguably the most dreaded portion of dentistry easier for her patients, let’s get to know more about her and how she got started in dental hygiene:
DD: How did you decide to get into dentistry and dental hygiene?
TS: My dental hygienist! She was amazing and thought I’d be really great at it. I did all of my observations with her. And she was right – I love it! I knew I would do something in the medical profession and after visiting with her, I just decided to go for it. I went to UCO to get my bachelor’s in biology and then I went to OU for hygiene school.
DD: And how long have you been working in dental hygiene?
TS: 11 years. I was part-time for the first few years, and then I went full-time, but I’ve been with Dental Depot since 2009. I started in Midwest City and then I moved to North OKC when I went full-time. Then I went to Central OKC, and now I’m at Yukon.
DD: So you’ve been to several different offices and all of them have very different cultures within the office. How would you describe them?
TS: Central OKC is the busiest. They have a lot going on but you learn so much and there’s so much energy there. Midwest City is the same. Yukon is busy but it’s also – I feel like it’s the happiest Dental Depot I’ve been to. Everybody works together and is friendly and I just love it here a lot. I was at Central OKC for about two years, but I asked to come [to Yukon] because I liked it so much. I knew Dr. [Damon] Johnson and they needed a hygienist, so he even invited me to come here. I had worked with him at North OKC before he came to Yukon.
Working for Dental Depot is so great because you meet so many people and you make so many connections. You get to know all of these people on both a professional and personal level and you can reach out to them for advice or ask questions! That’s what I like about it. It’s a good support system and a good resource. You can learn so much in the dental field.
DD: Do you feel that you, as a hygienist, have enough access to enough continuing education (CEs) events and additional training?
TS: Yeah! We have really good CEs – and I know it’s a little different right now because of COVID. The last two CEs I’ve done through Zoom. I’m really excited that they haven’t stopped CEs and are continuing to do them [through Zoom]. I liked it a lot; it’s simple and comfortable.
The only bad thing [about Zoom] is that I’ve worked here a long time and at the CE events when people are together, you get to see everybody and I want to spend the whole time giving hugs and catching up because I feel like we don’t get to see each other that much.
DD: What are some of the best CEs you’ve been able to go through with Depot?
TS: The laser! For sure the laser. We actually get to use it and it’s very hands-on! They have enough for us to practice with and it’s great. Other CEs – I loved it when we did the ethics one. Dr. [George] Bohle’s CEs are so good, too – everybody loves when he does them. He always has the coolest pictures and examples. He’s so smart.
DD: Tell us a little about how you get to use the laser in your day-to-day.
TS: We use it for scaling and root planning (SRP) treatment to disinfect the bacteria in the gum pockets to help with healing. One of my favorite things is how we can do fluoride for our patients and not charge them. Or if we need an x-ray, we’ll just take it and won’t charge them. I feel like – and especially if your doctors trust you – that we can do an SRP on one to three teeth to try and get any issues under control and that’s something they’re willing to let us do. It feels like we’re doing extra for our patients. Plus, we can do all that and Dr. Glenn doesn’t charge our patients for it. It feels like I’m giving my patients something special.
DD: Do you numb at your office as well as hygiene?
TS: I do both. We switch off with numbing and hygiene. Everybody helps – that’s why I love it here. If I need to take a hygiene patient, they’ll numb. If they have a hygiene patient and they’re running behind, I’ll numb. I just feel like we’re working really well together to support each other and make sure that our patients are taken care of.
DD: Tell me a little more about your hygiene team – the people you get to work with every day.
TS: They’re amazing. I love them all. They’re all really strong and positive and helpful. The team we have now – if you ask for help they never say no. It’s very, ‘Yes, we’ll figure it out.’ If somebody walks in and needs help, we’re gonna figure out how to take care of them. I love this hygiene team, they’re really great.
DD: Do you enjoy the days you get to numb? How do you approach a really nervous patient?
TS: Yeah! I always tell them that their feelings are valid. A lot of people will apologize and I’ll tell them they don’t have anything to apologize for – we’re here to help you through this. It’s not just hard for you, it’s a hard thing for anybody. Tell me what I can do to comfort you because your feelings are valid. It’s scary and it feels vulnerable. Not everybody, but a lot of people – they’ve had trauma going to the dentist. Tell me what I can do to help you and get you through it.
Everybody is different. Some people want to know what you’re doing and some people just close their eyes and trust me. You just have to talk to them and figure out what makes it easier for them. I love – my favorite thing in the world – is somebody who comes in terrified and then I get done numbing them or doing their cleaning, and they’re like, ‘that wasn’t so bad, actually! That wasn’t hard at all!’ For some people, it’s just the ultimate anxiety. But I like that because I want the challenge of making them feel comfortable – I want the challenge of making them want to come back.
DD: Does your team run assisted hygiene?
TS: No. We really like having that full time with our patients because we talk to them and figure out what they like and get to know them. We have a lot of patients that request their individual hygienists because of that. I prefer to work that way because I really like that time to spend with them.
DD: Do you have patients that you’ve been seeing for years?
TS: I have a few that have even followed me from office to office.
DD: What does that feel like? To know that you’ve had that positive impact on their lives?
TS: I don’t know that it’s an impact on their lives, but they know that I care and that I’ll take care of them. They know I’m going to treat them well and that I’ll do a good job every time. They know they don’t have to worry when they make an appointment with me because I’ve got their back.
DD: What would you say your favorite part of dental hygiene is? What does it mean to you?
TS: When people say that they’re nervous and then they’re surprised at how ‘not bad’ it was, I really enjoy that. I enjoy more difficult periodontal cases because I’ll get excited when I’m charting and those numbers are getting smaller. I’m sure they think I’m crazy but I’ll say, ‘Oh yeah! Those numbers are getting smaller! Less bleeding? Yeah!’ That makes me feel really good.
I love people who are afraid it isn’t going to get better and it does. A lot of time we can do the deep cleaning and then the doctor can do work also and we’ll get stuff done that way – I feel like it gives patients hope that they can take back their oral health and keep their teeth. They might not have even thought it was possible. Our treatment planners are really good at working with people. And I want patients to know that it is possible to have a healthy mouth and to feel confident when you smile. It’s so fun. I love seeing people years later and they’re smiling and healthy and they would have never thought they’d be able to do it.
We’re so grateful to have hygienists like Tori who embrace patient care. And while she might not think she has had a positive impact on the lives of others – we know that she has. It’s our pleasure to celebrate her as our Employee of the Month for her hard work, compassionate care, and years of service. Congratulations, Tori!
When Tori isn’t at the office, she spends the weekends trail riding with her wife and family around Oklahoma’s many lakes and state parks. Tori grew up around horses thanks to her mom, and enjoys long hours in the saddle visiting scenic trails. In addition to their many horses, Tori has two adorable pups. To learn more about Tori, stay tuned to our Instagrams; @DentalDepotOK and @PeopleofDepot.
Tori was nominated by her coworkers at Dental Depot Yukon for Employee of the Month. Here’s what they had to say:
“Where do I start, she is an amazing hygienist. Tori always sees the positive in everything. Her laugh is contagious. With the pandemic going on she hung in there and goes above and beyond for everyone. She never complains and that really is the truth. She has been with our company for so long, and I feel like she would be the perfect employee of the month.” – Whitney Lodermeier, 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 September, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Tori Scott.