The Probe - Proudly serving the dental profession for over 60 years

The award for those who go above and beyond


  Posted by: The Probe      31st October 2019

Amanda Harbrow-Harris took home the award for Dental Hygienist of the Year at the 2019 Dental Awards. Here, Amanda shares with The Probe her experiences from the evening and why she is passionate about oral hygiene.

What is it about dental hygiene that motivates you?

I just enjoy it. I love helping people feel more confident about themselves and their smile. The wow I get at the end when they see how good they look will never wear thin on me. I take pleasure out of being a holistic practitioner and linking peoples interests and illnesses to the benefits of good oral hygiene. I also enjoy my relationships with my patients. We always have a good catch up and I think they enjoy that too.

What is your recollection of the first time you treated a patient?

I was so scared!!! I didn’t have the safety net of the university and felt really exposed and on my own. I luckily had a nurse that day and she knew how I was feeling. Neither of us let on to the patient. The patient said to me afterwards that it was the most thorough clean she’d ever had. I’ll never forget it and it made me feel so much more confident in myself.

I’ve heard you’re skilled at working with nervous patients… What’s your secret?

Just to be myself, be personable and non judgemental and that seems to be the key to my success with nervous patients. I have had good results with people who have started the appointment scared.

Who (or what advice) has inspired you the most during your career to date?

To not speak without thinking! Sounds daft but patients hang on every word you say. I’m terrible at speaking without thinking first so it’s been a skill I’ve had to hone over the years!!

How has your field changed since studying at the University of Essex?

The biggest change has been the new classification system. It has been a challenge for me to get my head around and start implementing. Luckily, I’ve been on two really good courses so far that have explained it and I have one more booked in October, to go over it one more time to be completely clear.

What was your first reaction when it was announced that you had won Dental Hygienist of the Year at this year’s Dental Awards?

“Oh my god!!” I was shocked and thrilled and it was very surreal. It still doesn’t seem real and I feel very humbled. It has honestly been the best thing to ever happen in my career as a hygienist. I genuinely do love my job so to be recognised for this is great. It is an amazing achievement to get to the final so the other competitors should feel very proud of themselves. It is also great for the practices we all work at.

Do you have any other really memorable moments from the evening?

It was great to attend with one of my friends who was also in the final. It was really nice to see her and catch up. I saw people there that I wasn’t expecting to and that I used to work with, and it was just generally a great night. I also met the previous year’s winner which was nice.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

My main hobby is cycling. I’ve started getting more serious lately and have joined a club and got a new road bike and all the gear! I really enjoy it. I enjoy riding to and from work. I find it great for mindfulness, the environment, fitness and saving money!

In what ways do you promote the message of practising good oral hygiene outside of the practice?

I go to hospices and give talks to healthcare assistants and nurses on how to care orally for patients in palliative care. I explain why it’s important to reduce the bacterial load and teach them techniques and give them products from my sponsors to help relieve discomfort and make their patients feel more comfortable.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to someone studying to become a dental hygienist?

There’s a lot to learn. And when you first qualify you won’t know it all. It takes time to build up your techniques and confidence. Always go the extra mile for each patient. They can tell. And if you genuinely care they can tell this too. Don’t do it just for the money or you’ll never be happy or have job satisfaction. Also, don’t take on too many days. Tempting as it is you’ll burn out! Being a hygienist is not only physically challenging but mentally challenging too. 

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