Meet Our Hygienists! (Part 1)

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We love our amazing team of dental hygienists, and we know you will too!

This month we want to introduce you to these hygienists and explain what they can do for you.

Not only are they amazing at understanding your oral health they also understand how it affects your overall health. Along with being trained in the “Total Care Dental Way” our hygienists dedicated themselves to continual education including focuses on exercise, nutrition, and myofunctional therapy.

Imagine being able to visit with someone every six months whose sole goal is helping you on your health journey!

Click here to set up your hygiene appointment today.

Let’s get started! Today we’ll introduce two of our amazing hygienists…

Rachel Petersen

Hi I am Rachel Petersen, I am a dental hygienist 🦷✨ at Total Care Dental & Wellness.

I am from Edmond, Oklahoma, and I attended BYU Provo for my prerequisites and then got my bachelor’s degree from the Utah College of Dental Hygiene.

I am also a certified integrative nutrition coach, founder of Nourish the Good LLC, and a certified lactation consultant.

I decided to become a dental hygienist because I have always loved biology and helping people, so I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field.

I love working at Total Care Dental because I get to merge my passions for dental hygiene, nutrition, and lactation as I care for my patients.

I love that we have a functional, integrative approach to wellness: we focus on identifying the root cause of disease and use natural preventative remedies as much as possible, but also take advantage of all of the amazing tools modern medicine has to offer.

I love working in an environment where learning and education are encouraged and supported.

I love my coworkers and the chance I have to learn from some of the most brilliant minds in dentistry and integrative health. I love that Dr. Michelle frequently teaches us about health and nature and gardening through Living Well with Dr. Michelle. She even let us plant some tomatoes, squash, cucumber, and basil in our landscape!

We have so much fun.

I love that our patients are open-minded and eager to learn. I know I will always be grateful for my time at Total Care Dental and for all the knowledge I have gained and the people I have met.

It has not been a regular dental hygiene job–I truly believe that our patients get the best care when they come here and it is so fulfilling to be a part of someone’s health journey, not just someone who cleans their teeth.

I look forward to coming to work every day and am so grateful to be here at Total Care Dental.😊

I also want to share more about my health journey.

When I was 14, I won the WWA Wakeboard World Championships🛥️🌊. I competed on a national and world level for 10 years.

I started struggling with injuries when I was 16. I have torn both of my ACLs, had 6 knee surgeries, shattered my right ankle, fractured my femur, had many concussions, and struggled with eating disorders.

My injuries and struggles with body image as an athlete propelled me on a health journey and I began to learn how to love my body and be kind to myself.

I have always been passionate about nutrition, and in 2020 I attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and became a certified health and nutrition coach🍅🌿.

I love helping others be healthy and happy, and I specialize in helping women have healthy relationships with food and their bodies.

I love my job at Total Care Dental because I get to merge my passions for dental hygiene and nutrition.

The mouth is the first part of the gut and digestive system, so nutrition is so important for oral and systemic health.

It is a dream job for me to be here at Total Care Dental and I am grateful that I can use my struggles and education to help others attain better health.

-Rachel

Kristen Knecht

Hi, I’m Kristen, I am a nerd about dental things and I love being a dental hygienist.

I have two bachelor’s degrees🎓, one in psychology, which has helped me be more empathetic with my patients, and the other in dental hygiene.

Yes, dental hygienists must have a college degree, we take all the same pre-reqs that nursing students take. We really do have an understanding of the human body, with an emphasis in the mouth.

I am also trained as an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist. This allows me to see the mouth in a more functional way, so instead of seeing teeth and gums, I see the patterns in their muscle function.

My favorite of being a hygienist is finding answers to patient concerns.

So many health care professionals don’t get to spend even 15 minutes with their patients.

I get a whole hour.

I get a complete health history for each patient and then I do several diagnostic things such as take radiographs, blood pressure, and probe depths.

Then while I’m cleaning my patient’s teeth I discuss my findings  and ask questions about their dental hygiene routine as well as what kind of stress and how much stress they have in their life.

It is fascinating to see how something in one part of a person’s life affects all other aspects of life for good or bad. I enjoy teaching my patients how to take better care of their teeth and health and why.

My patients often request me because I care so much to show how much I care. I am a nerdy hygienist🤓, and I wear that badge with pride!

I would love to see you and be a part of your health journey!

Let me teach you more about Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT).

In OMT I teach people exercises for the mouth muscles to neurologically retrain their tongues which opens up a person’s larynx and allows them to breathe better through their noses.

My training is based on the principle Form Follows Function and muscle grows bone.

If a person chews properly, breathes properly, and sleeps properly, their body is likely to form properly.

I use exercises like blowing up a balloon several times without the use of their hands. Or holding a small item to the roof of their mouth to practice proper resting tongue placement.

It reduces asthma, seasonal allergies, and snoring. In kids, it straightens teeth. It increases proper lip seal, nasal breathing, and tongue posture.

If I start with a patient before their jaw is fully developed then I can help the jaw develop via proper muscle habits.

It’s so cool to see people change their habits and then improve their health.

If the person is older than 9 years they will probably need an oral appliance in addition to therapy to train their mouths to keep everything in proper working order.

Some say our genes are getting worse. I say that doesn’t make sense. It takes tens of thousands of years for genes to change. Our airways should be improving if evolution is to be believed. However, our jaws are getting smaller and people are dying of sleep issues.

So I believe it’s not genetics, it’s environmental.

Our food is too soft and we all eat too fast and our jaws are not getting the signals from the jaw muscles to grow enough for all our teeth and now everyone needs orthodontics.

-Kristen

If you feel like you need help with your breathing, snoring, or anything else mentioned above click below to schedule an appointment now!

Total Care Dental offers the most amazing care. They look at the entire health of your body, not just your dental health. Each visit is so thorough. The staff is very professional and friendly.

~ Robyn

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