The Today’s RDH Hygienist Profile is an ongoing series that features dental hygienists who have expanded their career beyond clinical work, are putting a unique spin on dental hygiene, or have gone above and beyond as a preventive specialist.
To kick off the Today’s RDH Hygienist Profile series, we interview Whitney, RDH, BS, also known as Teeth Talk Girl! Whitney has combined her love of helping others and her love of acting with her YouTube channel where she gives down-to-earth dental advice and has a ton of fun while doing it. Oral health care is a serious topic, but educating about it doesn’t have to be dry and boring! Check out what led Whitney to step outside the box of clinical dental hygiene and combine her two passions!
Tell us a little bit about you! Why did you become a dental hygienist?
As a kid, I always wanted to be a dentist (eek, I know right?) because my dentist was the coolest lady ever. But, during dental office observations in my pre-dent college program, I realized that I wasn’t sure if dentistry was right for me. So, when it came time to apply to dental school, I didn’t. Something I thought I always wanted… but I was having doubts. Instead, I applied to dental hygiene school, thinking it would be a great transition before dental school since I wasn’t ready to commit. Luckily I did this because I fell in love with dental hygiene. I loved the preventative philosophy of dental hygiene, and I’ve been fascinated ever since.
Why did you start a YouTube channel? What made you want to “put yourself out there?”
After graduation, I started my YouTube channel while waiting for my license to arrive in the mail because I couldn’t wait to start my career as a dental hygienist. During the wait, I started making dental hygiene education videos, and people actually started watching. Since then, I’ve continued making videos, and it’s become my part-time job. I have a background in acting, so putting myself out there initially wasn’t a concern. I was just so excited to combine my acting/film/editing knowledge with dental hygiene in efforts to help people in a non-traditional way!
Where do your ideas for your YouTube videos come from?
They don’t know it, but my initial video ideas came from my clinic patients in dental hygiene school. When I kept getting the same questions from patients (such as my first video “What’s the Best Mouthwash”), I kept thinking, if multiple patients are asking me the same questions, I’m sure others are Googling these questions too. Still today, most of my video ideas happen at work, during appointments. I have lists upon lists of video ideas. If only one day I could be a full-time YouTuber…
Do you get nervous when shooting a video? Do you worry about what others think about you?
I never get nervous shooting videos because I love talking to the camera. However, I’m often overwhelmed, sometimes a wreck, while writing the content of the videos. The actual shooting process is fun, but the writing beforehand gives me a bit of anxiety. For me, it’s very important to reference and provide the most recent dental facts and research within my “educational” videos. So, often times I feel like I’m writing a research paper for each video and I’m worried about the grade I’ll receive. Which brings back great college memories…
What motivated you to go the light-hearted, humorous route with your videos instead of an all-business, serious route?
Honestly, I’m just being myself. Ha! I figured if I’m not hiding my personality, I will connect better with people, opposed to putting on my “serious face” for the camera. I tend to have an energetic, weird, loud attitude, and I’m thrilled that people say it shows in my videos.
Looking into the future, what are your goals and aspirations personally, professionally as a dental hygienist, and with your YouTube channel?
My super dream is to be an actress, but that’s a whole other situation. I’m starting to love the idea of becoming a professional YouTuber. If I can’t get my energy out on the big screen, at least I can get my energy out on the small computer screen. However, starring in a toothpaste commercial with Meryl Streep would be cool, too.
What has been eye-opening since starting your YouTube channel?
My eyes have been open to so many things! First of all, the amount of positive, amazing feedback is extremely validating and makes me want to continue making videos. People often reach out and tell me I’ve inspired them to schedule dental appointments and that I’ve encouraged them to start flossing regularly. I could never have imagined this. This was my goal, and it’s actually happening! I’ve also become friends with countless subscribers and followers. In this sense, social media can be really wonderful. I’m looking forward to continuing making videos and keep reaching more and more people!
What advice would you give other hygienists who may want to do something non-traditional, outside clinical work?
My advice is to stop caring what other people think. If you want to do something, do it. It’s a weird feeling (and still is for me sometimes) to go non-traditional and take chances. However, I’d rather have the weird feeling that I’ve tried, opposed to the awful feeling of regret. My initial mission was to help others. Now, I’m able to combine my passion for entertainment, with my mission of helping others. It was a strange beginning because people thought, and still think, I’m odd. But, I’m doing it, and it’s worth it.