Dental hygienist loves getting to know patients

Ambrie Hitch has wanted to be a dental hygienist since childhood. Growing up, her mom worked in a dentist’s office. She said it is a niche job and that she loves it. Her favorite part is getting to know her patients.

SMITHVILLE — While she lived in St. Joseph and worked as a dental assistant while attending college and an accredited hygienist program, Ambrie Hitch began working in Smithville immediately after her schooling.

“I saw Garrison Family Dentistry and submitted my resume,” she said. “They weren’t looking for anyone at the time, but a couple months later they were and they gave me a call.”

In addition to now working for the Smithville dental office, Hitch comes in for her own dental work and that of her three boys, Ryder, 4, Brooks, 2, and Hayes, 1.

A highlight of working as a dental hygienist, she said, is flexible scheduling.

”That works really well for me,” she said, “because I have three boys.”

What would surprise people most to learn about your job?

“I would say the education a hygienist has. A lot of people don’t realize a lot of the classes we have to take,” Hitch said. “I had to take pharmacology. ... We skimmed the surface and it was one of the hardest classes I had ever taken.” Pharmacology is the scientific study of different drugs and effects they have on the body.

Would a 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?

“No, my mother worked in a dental office while I was growing up,” Hitch said. “I decided very young that I wanted to be a dental hygienist.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

“A hygienist has a lot of duties they have to complete within one appointment,” she answered. “Making sure you are being really diligent and you are completing all of those to the best of your abilities in an hour — you have an hour with a patient. We have a lot of things we have to document, check and go over with the patient.”

What do you like most about this field or your job in particular?

“I love my patients,” she said. “I like getting to know people. Almost all of my patients are people I’ve seen the whole seven years that I’ve worked here. You get to know a lot about them and that is my favorite part.”

Outside of the workplace, when you meet somebody new, what tips you off that someone is another dental hygienist?

“If they are type A, particular probably,” she said. Type-A personalities are often competitive, organized and often time-driven.

What’s the most common question you get asked about what you do?

“How do you stand to do it?,” the dental hygienist said. “I just tell people you have to have a (knack) for this job and the people who do it love it. It is just kind of one of those things where we are not repulsed by anything at all. A lot of people ask, ‘Aren’t you grossed out?’” The answer, “Nope,” Hitch said.

What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?

“You should just go into it with the mindset that you are there for the patient. The patient is the person who comes first,” she said. “If you keep that in mind, you are going to be a really successful hygienist.”

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at or 389-6606.

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