An Interview with…Anna Middleton
DH: Tell us about yourself and why you chose a career in dentistry?
AM: At college I studied sound engineering and music technology and then worked for an arts company for two years before considering a move into dentistry. I still had a strong desire to study and medicine and biology had always interested me, but I was never sure which path to go down. One day a friend suggested I become a dental nurse which seemed like an interesting opportunity. I started as a float nurse and spent much of my time with the hygienist who inspired me to apply to study dental hygiene.
To my surprise I was immediately accepted onto a hygiene course and in 2013 I moved to London to study at The Eastman Dental Hospital, graduating from the Faculty of Royal College of Surgeons in 2015.
DH: Why did you decide to launch your own business and brand?
AM: After qualifying I worked at a number of practices but wasn’t particularly happy and it got to the point where I felt my decision to become a hygienist wasn’t working out at all. When I qualified I had branded myself as ‘London Hygienist’ to showcase my work and to make it easy for patients to find me online, but I wasn’t using it. Fortunately, I had a light-bulb moment and decided to make more of my self-employed status and leverage my brand.
DH: You haven’t been a hygienist for long but you’ve already chalked up an award and several nominations? What is the secret of your success?
AM: It has been a real honour to win "Best Team Member" at the 2017 Dentistry Awards and be nominated for "Dental Hygienist of the Year" at the 2017 Oral Health Awards and 2018 Dental Awards as well as "Best Patient Care" at the 2017 Private Dentistry Awards. Having my skills and contribution recognised by my peers has been a real bonus.
I consider myself to be passionate, confident and enthusiastic and hope my love for this job and pride in my work shows through in all my patient encounters. The positive feedback I get from patients and the practices where I work gives me the motivation to keep going.
DH: This year you delivered your first lecture on Behaviour Change? What is it about this area of dentistry that really interests you?
AM: Behaviour change is a term that is spoken about a lot, not only in dentistry, but in life.
It can apply to almost anything - eating healthier, exercising more, brushing twice a day, and perhaps for some even starting to make sure they are on time for their dental appointments. All of these require a change, and that change takes time.
The majority of my work centres around prevention. A good oral hygiene routine is crucial to patient care in order to prevent dental decay and gum disease. Being able to provide patients with the education and motivation they need to instil change, along with products they like, will inevitably lead to lasting results and increase the chance of long term compliance.
Many patients tell me about the bad experiences they’ve encountered at the dentist or hygienist. I see this as my main challenge, to give them an excellent experience which makes them smile! It is very rewarding to see patients leave the surgery equipped with the knowledge and practical skills to take ownership of their oral health.
DH: You’re involved in charitable work, can you tell us about this?
AM: My dental therapist friend Pat Popat, travels to Uganda every year, taking much needed dental aid to areas with little or no access to dental care. Last year we met up and he told me about his trip planned for early 2018. The trips are run by Dentaid, a charity that sends volunteer dental professionals and reconditioned dental equipment and supplies to support the work of dentists in poor and remote communities. For me, this was a different challenge and a real opportunity to help those much less fortunate than ourselves. During our visit we worked in orphanages, schools and churches and over the two weeks the team saw over two thousand patients. Our work included performing extractions, fillings and applying fluoride varnish, along with sharing our skills and expertise with Ugandan dentists who would come and work alongside us for a day.
DH: Are you going to this year’s Dental Showcase at London Excel? What do you like about attending dental industry events?
AM: I’m really looking forward to attending Dental Showcase this year. I remember my first one only three years ago where I knew no one and now I can't walk between two stands without running into someone I know. Some of my dentist colleagues are lecturing and it’s a valuable opportunity to hear some well-respected speakers and keep up to date on the current hot topics in the industry. I’m also really fascinated by developments in technology and love trawling the stands to see what new equipment and products have been launched. Of course, it's great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones and network too.
DH: How important do you think it is for hygienists and other DCP’s to attend trade events from a career development and CPD perspective?
AM: I personally find myself thirsty for new knowledge every day, especially if it can help me grow in my career. Theses trade events are firstly extremely fun but secondly, provide opportunities for personal development and expansion. If a new opportunity presents its self, you should go for it! I've never shied away from a new experience, in fact I embrace it. It can help you figure out what you like and don’t like, your strengths and weakness and this helps you grow. If you’ve been searching for ways to advance in your career or find inspiration or your next challenge, then attending an event like Dental Showcase could be exactly what you are looking for.
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