Find out more about Lee’s colourful past, dental tips, and Guinea Pigs.
How long have you been a dental nurse and where did you train?
Lee: 20 years ago I trained at the Dental Assistants’ Association of WA in Midland, under Mrs. Marie Wells.
So have you always worked in dentistry?
Lee: No; my very first job was at Ziggy’s Pizza just up the road here. Everyone had their specific favourites, so when folk would call to order I would know who they were by the pizzas they ordered.
I then worked as a Nurse at a retirement village looking after the elderly, before I trained as a Dental Nurse. I drove the bus and took residents on shopping trips. As a special treat, I once took 25 elderly women to Morley Galleria when it first opened. What a trip that was: I had to keep track of everybody’s shopping - 60 white plastic bags, plus a huge roll of garden edging one resident decided to purchase! That was along with monitoring some residents who got up to all sorts of mischief . . . one diabetic resident ordered huge slices of chocolate cake and tried to consume them all whilst I wasn’t looking! Dental patients are far easier to look after, thankfully!
When I returned to the workforce after having my daughter, I worked repairing and making new stained glass windows in a local Fremantle company. This allowed me the freedom to have school holidays off and be able to pick up and drop off my daughter during her school years. I have fixed many an old window from iconic buildings in and around Fremantle.
What do you enjoy most about Dental nursing?
Lee: Helping patients to overcome their fear of dentists and treatment.
What is your favourite/most interesting procedure for which to nurse?
Lee: Implant surgery and impacted wisdom tooth removal, as they are both full surgical procedures, which are particularly gratifying.
What is the best thing about working at Silas Street?
Lee: It is close to home and I know many of the patients, so it feels like home-from-home. Also – Mark makes me a delicious cappuccino every morning: what a treat!
Lee: Completing adult orthodontic cases - we see the patient for some months, gradually moving the teeth into alignment. Patients are always excited to have their braces removed and see their new, straighter smile. Many have often waited a very long time for this, as they have put other things first and themselves last. It’s lovely to see them smile so broadly and inconspicuously.
What is your top Dental care tip?
Lee: Visit the dentist regularly, at least once a year, or as soon as you feel something is not quite right with your teeth, even if it’s not a full-blown toothache, merely a twinge or a strange nerve pain or sweet sensitivity. Toothache doesn’t usually go away - it gets bigger and costs more. Come as soon as you notice a problem to keep the costs and treatment to a minimum.
What has changed most since you started Nursing?
Lee: The public’s approach to dentistry and awareness of oral hygiene has changed the most. Parents get children in at a younger age for their first dental experience (even a ride in the chair); adult teeth straightening and whitening are in much greater demand nowadays. In addition, payments are now easier and rebates can be claimed directly from health funds via HICAPS; years ago, we sent out an account at the end of the month to all patients who had visited the dentist, so there was a lot more paperwork involved.
Other than teeth, what captivates you outside of work?
Lee: I breed and show guinea pigs at a State and National level. My favourite are the lilac-coloured ones. I also love to garden - I can spend hours pottering about!