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UNHS Dental Hygienists keep patients' mouths healthy, smiles bright - Medically Speaking, Volume Three, Number Two, 8/13/2015

Before Marsha Curley was a senior in high school she knew her future would include a career in the field of dentistry at some level and she called her shot perfectly.

Marsha grew up in Blanding and graduated from San Juan High School in 1999. In her junior year she spent time in a shadowing program with Dr. Paul Macdonald, DDS, as a dental assistant. Her journey into the wonderful world of dentistry has come full circle, now that she is a Dental Hygienist in Dr. Macdonald's Blanding Family Dental Office with Utah Navajo Health System, Inc.

Marsha's high school experience as a dental assistant convinced her that she wanted to do something more with her career. She attended the College of Eastern Utah-San Juan Campus, in Blanding, after high school, where she completed her pre-requisite courses to become a Dental Hygienist in 2001. She later attended Dixie State College and became a Dental Hygienist in 2005. She worked as a Dental Hygienist at the UNHS Montezuma Creek Community Health Center for two years, before meeting her future husband via an on-line dating site called myspace. She left UNHS in 2008 and moved to Wisconsin with her fiancé, who received an honorable discharge from the Navy. In Wisconsin, the couple lived near his home for several years and she worked as a Dental Hygienist.

In 2014 Marsha and her husband moved back to Blanding with their oldest daughter and she went back to work for UNHS. She also had her second daughter in 2014. She now works Mondays and Tuesdays at Dr. Macdonald's office, in Blanding, and Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Monument Valley Community Health Center. She said she enjoys working for UNHS and is impressed with the improvements and more comprehensive services offered by the UNHS Dental Department. She is also glad to see her job becoming more important.

"Over the past year, they've made my job, what I do, like treating periodontal disease, more of a priority," she said.

She likes the drive to Monument Valley and loves working with Dr. Crystal Sepaquaptewa, DDS.

"She's really neat," Marsha said. "She does beautiful dental work."

Marsha said her decision to pursue a dental career was influenced by Kathie Patterson, a former dental assistant who now works in Dr. Macdonald's office, in Blanding.

"Kathie used to be a dental assistant back with Dr. Miller, where I got all my dental work done as a kid, and she was always so nice. I told my mom, 'I think that's what I'd like to do.'"

Marsha said the best part about working with UNHS is the people she gets to meet. She said when people come in for treatment, they're not just teeth and gums.

"I ask myself, what can I do to help them? It's like, 'how are you doing? I really want to know. I just want to create those personal relationships with people," Marsha explained. "And once I do I know they'll come back to see me more and they'll want to. That's something I learned working back in Wisconsin. It's not just dental and cleaning teeth for me. I like people coming in and building a relationship.

"People come in and they're embarrassed about their teeth and I tell them not to worry, we're just doing some catch up," she added. "'You'll be a regular in no time, and I'll look out the window and see you getting out of your truck and I'll say, there's so and so here for their recall.' And I tell them, 'we'll get to that point, just be patient.'"

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