National Dental Hygiene Month! What Does It Take to Be a Hygienist?


Leigha – Our New Dental Hygienist

October is National Dental Hygiene Month and we are lucky to have an amazing team of dental hygienists at Falmouth Dental Arts: Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and our newest addition Leigha!

From a patient perspective, this incredible group of compassionate and knowledgeable healthcare professionals are the people you interact with most:  they perform your routine check-ups and cleanings, and help your teeth get squeaky clean for the dentist’s review.  They also love to educate patients so you are empowered to make the best choices for your unique dental needs. 

So, what does it take to be a dental hygienist? What are some of the tricks-of-the-trade? To celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month, we asked Ashley from our team of phenomenal hygienists to share a little more about what they do.


1.What sort of school and training is required to be a dental hygienist? 

Ashley: Dental hygienists must attend accredited dental school or university majoring in Dental Hygiene. The majority of current programs take four years to complete, with graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree. Upon receiving their degree, hygienists are eligible to take a series of board exams in order to become licensed and to work in a dental office.

2. What is your favorite part of your job?

Ashley: One of the best parts of being a dental hygienist is building connections and relationships with our patients. Learning about our patients not only makes our appointments fun and engaging but also helps us make recommendations that work with their lifestyle.  We love our patients!

3. What is something most people don’t know about being a hygienist? 

Ashley: Choosing a career in Dental Hygiene is a commitment to life-long learning. Technologies and care philosophies are always evolving which means we as providers are constantly engaging in education and professional development to ensure we are providing “crest of the wave” care. In fact, we are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years as part maintaining an active license in the state of Maine. 

4. What is your favorite dental product? 

Ashley: The electric toothbrush. It is more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush and stimulates the gum tissue in order to promote gum health. It enhances the homecare routine especially for those with dexterity issues and braces. 

5. What is your #1 dental tip for patients? 

Ashley: Simple, FLOSS. Flossing daily can prevent a myriad of dental and overall health issues. Who knew a piece of string could have such an impact on overall health?! 

7. What is the best part of being a hygienist at Falmouth Dental Arts? 

Ashley: Collectively, one of the most rewarding elements of being a hygienist at Falmouth Dental Arts is our whole-body approach to dental care. We recognize the impact of oral health on overall health and collaborate with our patients to create an individualized care plan. This approach is empowering and motivating for both us as hygienists and for the patient. As a result, treatment success is increased.  It’s very rewarding!


Thank you, Ashley! 

And thank you to all of our outstanding dental hygienists — Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and Leigha!  If you have more questions for our team about your oral health care, or need to schedule your next appointment, give our office a call at 207.781.5900. 


Have You Thanked Your Dental Assistant Today?

One of our favorite things about March is that there is a Dental Assistant Recognition Week.  It’s true! And we are lucky to have an amazing team of Dental Assistants committed to excellent patient care at FDA.  The theme of this year’s Recognition Week was “Today’s Dental Assistants–Polished, Poised, and Professional,” and we couldn’t think of a better way to describe Mary, Melissa, Mirela, and our newest staff member, Pat.  Let’s meet our four fabulous Dental Assistants and learn a little bit more about what a dental assistant does!

When you visit FDA, you may notice lots of people doing different jobs.  You might not realize the difference between some roles. For instance, do you know the difference between a Dental Hygienist and a Dental Assistant?

When you come to the office for a procedure with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos, Assistants are sitting chairside working directly with the dentists.  They are the bridge between the patient and the dentist and are focused on patient comfort and understanding. They need to know every step in each procedure so they can always be one step ahead of the dentist.  Each procedure and each dentist is different, so it is crucial that the Assistant is familiar with all the tools and materials and the order the dentist will need them. Beyond sitting chairside, Dental Assistants also take impressions, perform in-office whitening procedures, conduct lab work, and make temporary crowns.  Also, all of FDA’s Dental Assistants have their radiology certification, so they may have taken your last set of X-rays.

FDA’s Fab Four

Mary has worked in the dental field since 1995, many of those years with us.  For Mary, the dental care is excellent at FDA in part because of the encouragement and support that staff members receive to take continuing education classes. “We’re constantly improving our knowledge,” she explains. “These courses help us to communicate well together, which is very important.  Our motto is, ‘Have fun while doing great work!’ It’s all about working as a team to do the best for our patients and keep them relaxed. Everyone here helps each other.”

Melissa has been in the dental field since 2003 and is a chairside assistant along with 
handling whitening procedures, fabrication of crowns, and 
laboratory duties.  She has a passion for helping people, which is what led her to dentistry. “I love waking up each morning knowing that I am going to help someone today,” Melissa says. “Sometimes, we are able to change a person’s life, and that is powerful.”

Mirela has worked in the dental field since 2003, joining the Falmouth Dental Arts team in May 2017. She has worked in pediatric dentistry for most of this time, which lends her a unique perspective on dentistry. “Anyone can be afraid of going to the dentist – not just children,” she shares. “That’s why we do everything we can here at FDA to make patients feel comfortable and relaxed while they’re in our chairs.”   She also provides language support for the team with her fluency in Albanian and Greek.

Pat was a member of A Perfect Smile before and joined FDA earlier this month.  We are excited to have her on the team!  APS patients will recognize her and the wonderful care she provides. Please help us welcome Pat to the FDA family!

We are so grateful for all the amazing work and excellent patient care these women provide.  We strive to provide the best oral health care to our patients and couldn’t do that without our Dental Assistants.  We are lucky to have them as part of our team. Next time you see them at the office, say hello…and if you are in need of a visit to our office, give us a call at 207.781.5900.  We look forward to seeing you!


**Image courtesy of