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2019’s Best Hygienist

Published on: May 17, 2022
 By: The New Dentist
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We asked you to nominate your rock star hygienists and boy did you deliver. It was difficult to pick, but ultimately, we chose Megan Elsenboss of the Yale New Haven Hospital as 2019’s Best Dental Hygienist.We also would like to recognize two other standout hygienists, Katie Bergeron and Tricia Vaughn, for their hard work and dedication to the profession. Here are their winning nominations:

Megan Elsenboss of 
New Haven, CT

Nominated by Tyrone F. Rodriguez, DDS, FACD, FAAPD, Program Director, Pediatric Dentistry, Yale New Haven Hospital

Megan Elsenboss is an extraordinary dental hygienist. Her commitment to our diverse population of medically, socially and emotionally complex patients is second to none. She has a true appreciation for caring for children and does so with compassionate energy, whether it is our war torn refugee children, special needs children or foster care children. She lectures our doctors in training and helps them understand the complexities of periodontal health and systemic health in children and special needs patients. Few hygienists have the commitment to lecture to specialists. 

There’s one thing that really makes Megan stand out. She is a volunteer EMT on the weekends. She not only saves dentition and probing depths, she saves lives. Week in and week out her EMT training has put her on the front line of the opioid epidemic. Her skills in opiate reversal and saving lives go above and beyond what is called of her. I am proud to call her a colleague, team member and super woman.  

Honorable mentions:

Tricia Vaughn
 of Towson, MD

Nominated by Craig L. Snyder, DDS, PA, Towson Dental Care

Tricia has been in dental hygiene for 19 years and I was blessed when she joined my team six months ago.

She has, with a professional style and enthusiasm, transformed my mediocre hygiene system into a first rate, up-to-date, exciting aspect of my practice. Tricia has a very organized approach to ensure every patient has updated medical histories, perio charting, blood pressures, and appropriate radiographs. I must admit I got away from monitoring my hygiene program, such that visits became “cleanings” and patients seemed unenthusiastic about their dental health.

Tricia has single handedly turned this from a ho-hum aspect of our practice to a fully thriving, exciting, productive and profitable division. She reeducated patients who have been slipping by with prophys (when they truly needed more in-depth therapy) on the importance of root planing and scaling. Patients readily embrace her suggestions and consistently comment on how Tricia has “turned on the lights” about their care. We have a high compliance rate for scaling and root planing follow-ups and acceptance of recommended fluoride treatments. These same patients would have refused such suggestions in the past.

I referred a patient to a periodontist two years ago and we now alternate maintenance visits between the two offices. Just last week, the patient said Tricia “explained so much to me about my gum disease that I never understood.” Now that's AFTER being with a periodontist! 

She is so strong in her knowledge of clenching, grinding, diet, and sleep apnea-related signs that she has truly been a lifesaver. A patient who has been with the practice for more than 20 years went to her physician for a sleep study based on Tricia's recommendation. She found out she has severe sleep apnea and now uses a CPAP. The patient was so thankful when she returned for her three month checkup.

I used to do all new patient exams to help prioritize perio and restorative treatment. Tricia's exams are so thorough I have turned these new patient encounters over to her (unless our phone interview indicates a true need for me to see the patient initially). This change has freed up my schedule immensely.

Speaking of schedules, where there were holes and availabilities for hygiene visits, Tricia is now booked out for the next three months! Definitely a good challenge! I am hiring another hygienist next month who understands Tricia will be her mentor.

Her communication skills are top notch, she can vary her approach according to how she reads a particular patient, and is sincere in her dialog. She also has participated in school education programs in her kids' schools.

When I come in to do my exam, her reports are concise and accurate. I used to come in and shoot the breeze with the patient, but I now save this for the end as Tricia's information grabs my attention. She keeps me on my toes, and I am thankful that she makes me a better dentist!  

Katie Bergeron of 
Houston, Texas

Nominated by Dr. Kathy Frazar, DDS, The Houston Dentists 

Katie Bergeron is incredible. She’s a new graduate who’s been with my practice for only a year and a half, and in that time, she’s already stepped into the role of lead hygienist. She took ownership of her new responsibilities right away and has excelled ever since. She’s in charge of the perio prevention program, training, team meetings, tracking goals for the department—she basically oversees the entire hygiene team. Our team leaders (we have three including Katie) run their own business within the business to be profitable and productive, while also treating patients with the utmost care. 

Katie is a hard worker who has an ownership mentality. She’s very driven. Since she’s been in the lead hygiene role, production numbers have gone up 35 percent and we’ve added more hygiene days. The patients love her, and if I was going to send someone out to represent the office it would be Katie. She’s caring, she’s very well educated and she teaches patients a lot about how their health relates to their mouth. She’s very professional, but also establishes relationships with patients and knows all about their families. Katie becomes their friend, and loves hearing about their lives and teaching them how to take care of their smiles. 

Her family is also pretty interesting—they own a recipe playing card company. The cards feature Cajun recipes and can be found throughout touristy spots in New Orleans, which is where she’s from. They’ve branched out into Houston, and Katie helps with the family business in her spare time. She also does volunteer work in the Houston area and whenever she travels. She works hard both in and out of the office, and a lot of her motivation and drive comes from the entrepreneur mentality she grew up around. 

Katie loves this profession and is eager to learn as much as she can about the clinical and the business side of dentistry so she can help the practice grow and provide patients with the best care possible. She’s a great example of what you can do if you seize the moment.

There were so many great submissions, we couldn’t stop at recognizing only three. Below are just a few of the talented hygienists you introduced us to through your nominations:

Jillian Ostrewich, RDH

Houston, TX

“I am very proud to present Jillian as our all-star hygienist. She is a rare find, a gem to the hygienist profession, and I am blessed to have her as part of our team for almost 10 years.” 

Sharon Shae, RDH

Oak Creek, WI

“She brings positive energy and attitude and a wonderful sense of humor to work every day. She is a team player and always willing to lend a helping hand.”

Brittany Johnson, RDH

Davie, FL

“Brittany embodies the soft touch and patient guidance that epitomizes what a standout hygienist is all about. So much so, that her gentle hands and remarkable ability to create a positive, welcoming environment have earned her the nickname “angel hands” by our patients.” 

 Dan Margarit, RDH

Winters, CA

“Described by patients as the ‘dude with the gentle hands who is the best teeth cleaner’, known by the kids as the ‘funny and handsome doctor’ and named by the specialists as the ‘kind hygienist with the strongest oral disease prevention protocol”

Jacqueline Manzo, RDH

Boca Raton, FL

“Jacqueline has a bright smile and all the time does her best to keep updated and informed in all the newest care for patients. She is lovely, caring, hardworking and really fun to talk to. Patients love her because she demonstrates true care.”

Katie Sizemore, RDH

Henniker, NH 

“I have always looked up to Katie knowing that not only are her clinical skills spot on but the compassion she has for dental hygiene. Being a small office that we are, Katie truly knows what teamwork means and is always strategizing ways we can improve to strive as a team.”

Jacob Kualapai, RDH

“Jacob Kualapai is the Executive Director for Dental Care in Your Home. He is also a Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene.”

Jada Rivera, RDH

Madison, CT

“She always gives 110% to whatever she’s doing, and always does is with a smile and with enthusiasm. She is the definition of a true and kind professional.” 

 Kathy Meade, RDH

Lexington, KY

“For 28 years, Kathy has served the patients of Dental Wellness of Lexington, being a constant figure of trust and comfort. She serves as hygiene team leader, arrives every day at 6:45 am to see patients at 7 am, and to my knowledge has never called in sick. Kathy is loyal, dependable, a team player and keeps her hygiene knowledge on point.”

Melissa McEnerney, RDH

 New York, NY

“She is gentle, caring, and is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure each person has a positive dental experience. It's easy to see that each and every patient is unique and special to her because that's how she treats them.” 

Lane' Albee, RDH

Rochester, MN

“If anyone needs coverage, she is the first person that is there to help out.  She is great with the patients and takes the time to chat with her patients to make them feel more comfortable being in the dental chair all while staying on time.”

LouAnn Morelock, RDH

Greenfield, Indiana

“She IS a team player and a leader for our staff.  She jumps in when needed and is much appreciated.”

Dana Sill, RDH

Naples, FL

“Dana is a beacon for the entire team and sets herself apart by continuously learning, setting and achieving both personal and career goals, and being one hundred percent invested in her patients and their overall health.”

Julia Bell, RDH

San Jose, CA

“Julia is a true team player and will help any of her co-workers who need her help. If she needs to go help with an impression, clean a room, start the autoclave, or even suction--she will do it.  She has team mentality and is ALWAYS happy to help.”

Sandra Bernal, RDH

Tampa, FL

“Sandra’s love and dedication to dentistry is exemplified in her excellent clinical care and connection with all patients. Her passion, ethic and upbeat personality is contagious throughout the office and is why I’m nominating her for 2019’s Best Dental Hygienist.”

Jaci Klepadlo, RDH

Mays Landing, NJ

“Jaci’s passion for all things dental hygiene also shines through her patient care. She dedicates her time to finding the best products to care for her patients. She is always educating herself, as well as her patients, to make sure their overall health is top priority and often finds that having the right tools available is key to making that happen.”

Mandy Banda

Austin, TX

“I would like to nominate my kickass hygienist Mandy Banda because she's been ROCK SOLID in a very difficult transition that we've undergone. She does an amazing job of explaining why she is doing what she's doing, and our patients have a lot of trust in her to provide an excellent service with great skill.” 

Yulia Bittner, RDH

Richmond, VA

“Yulia takes on and implements projects that would otherwise fall by the wayside in this busy five doctor and eight hygienist practice. In addition to giving each and every one of her patient’s top-notch excellent care and concern, she is the first hygienist to volunteer to make sure all instruments are kept sharpened and in good condition.”

Colleen Groves, RDH

East Amherst, NY

“The patients absolutely love her and cannot say enough great things about how thorough and gentle she is. Colleen loves to learn. She is always up to try anything new and really believes in whole health, beginning in the mouth.”

Kristin Hensler, RDH

Houston, TX

“The dedication, friendship, and compassion that she shares with everyone is truly an inspiration and rare to find in this day and age.”  

Stephanie Pajot RDH

Bingham Farms, MI

“Stephanie has empathy and a positive personality that brightens the day of the entire team and most importantly our patients. Not a day goes by that I don't hear, ‘She is the best, doc!" 

Sarah Burch, RDH

Flowood, MS

“Sarah is VERY personable and likes to get to know each one of her patients making the patients feel like family.” 

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