Join CODHA at Annual Session 2020 with Colorado Specific Continuing Education and Virtual House of Delegates 2020!



How COVID-19 changed my Career Forever More


In December 2019 I finished a longtime goal and graduated with my Masters of Science in Dental Hygiene from Eastern Washington University. I had visions of what I would do after graduation, but I had a good job with good pay and the unknowns of doing something new and different felt too risky to pursue yet. Then COVID-19 came in March and everything changed.


Like all dental hygienists in Colorado, I was home without a job and every day was filled with new information and new guidelines and new unknowns and a lot of thinking, maybe too much thinking.  Besides the stress, COVID-19 did provide me with the time to contemplate all those visions I had for taking my dental hygiene career in a new direction, away from clinical private practice.  The risks and unknowns didn’t feel so intimidating anymore.  Ultimately, the decision to not return to clinical private practice was made for me when I was let go from my position, but as upsetting as it was losing my job, I was ready for a change.


Being unemployed for the first time ever in my career without any job prospects on the horizon, was a lot.  Budget cuts where being made right and left to industries like public health and education. And did I mention I had no job leads? I was stressed.  So I started networking (a.k.a. talking to everyone I could) and I updated my resume and cover letter over and over and over again. I applied to positions I may have been under-qualified for and ones I was overqualified for. Looking for a new job is a full-time job in itself. It is also draining and can make you feel worthless when you start counting up the applications and resumes you have sent, and no one even emails you back.


Thankfully, I had unemployment pay, plus the extra $600 Coronavirus relief (that was a life saver), which allowed me to focus on searching for a job I desired and not just something to pay my bills. I am also thankful I had finished my degree which qualified me for more broad options and gave me confidence in myself. I also had support coming from all directions, and that support from family, friends, and colleagues is immeasurable and continues to this day.


Now I have three part-time jobs. Two college positions, one face-to-face and one online and a public health position that also has face-to-face patient care and a virtual care aspect. I drive a lot and am learning and relearning to manage my time more effectively than ever before and also to be super flexible. I still feel stress a lot, but I am also invigorated with the possibilities the future holds.


It is amazing how a major crisis can bring out people’s true colors and how it can also propel life forward at warp speed. I, like all of you, am hanging on with all my might.

CODHA has been a huge support to me in recent months and we are here for all of you, too. Big or small.


Your CODHA President-Elect Lisa Westhoff RDH, BSDH, MSDH


Tidbits from the “Treasurer’s” Trove….

WOW!  What a year?!?!  This marks the final stretch as my term as your Treasurer!  What started as “business as usual” has turned into “business as unusual”!!
As a non-profit, member-driven Association, our Dues dollars remain the lifeblood of CODHA’s opportunities to educate, support, and propel Colorado dental hygienists forward—In the greatest of times and the toughest of times.  I can’t think of a profession that has been hit harder, but our Membership has never been stronger, prouder, or louder!!  THANK YOU!!
CODHA’s opportunities moving forward are largely dictated by the volunteers that help drive our organization to be the best it can be!!
The Caring for Colorado Grant that we received last year has allowed us to fulfill our strategic plan goals, update equipment needed to handle the many “virtual” connections for our Membership, and hire a bookkeeper to assist in our Association’s needs – lightening the load of the next Treasurer!
I look forward to mentoring CODHA’s next Treasurer and our new bookkeeper to continue streamlining the financials of the Association!!
It’s been such a pleasure to serve as an officer of the “Greatest Association and Profession” in the world!!
Thanks to all of you for your help and support along the way!!

Beth Olson, RDH


Howard M Notgarnie RDH EdD, ADHA—IOH Colorado Liaison

I am happy to announce that Colorado has surpassed our ADHA—Institute for Oral Health fundraising goal for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020. Our goal was $1502.00. We raised $1645.00. Thank you Deb Astroth RDH BS, Laurie Ghigleri BS RDH, Gail Cross-Poline RDH MS, Laura Jacob RDH MA, Jennifer Bachelder RDH, Justin Beagley RDH, and dozens of members who included a donation when registering for continuing education at CODHA events.
ADHA—Institute for Oral Health is the charitable arm of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Donations to ADHA – Institute for Oral Health fund scholarships, community service, research, and travel expenses of dental hygienists advocating for amendments to the dental procedure codes. Please click on the banner below to reach the donations page.



Now more than ever meeting and talking with each other is crucially important.

Did you know that your CODHA is hosting recurring virtual meet-ups that are free for members with a variety of topics and discussions?

Your membership comes with many benefits.  This is one! Please join us so we can get to know you better.





Reflections from Suzanne Hubbard, Northern Component Trustee:

In 2013, I was working as a hygienist in Boulder, when I was told not to come to work because of the Great Flood. Our building was nearly put under with water and was off for several weeks during clean-up. Many of the patients that I was seeing after the great clean-up were from Lyons and surrounding communities who lost everything in the flood. I’d ask, “Hey are you still using your electric toothbrush?” Many of the answers were, “Nope, it was sucked down the river with everything else I owned”.  One perpetual thing that I kept seeing during practice was just how everyone was stressed out, lacked proper home care, and that their oral health seemed to digress quickly.  Flood Gums, was what I was calling it.  Patients were coming in saying that they were having clinical symptoms of clenching, they were noticing that their gums were bleeding more, and when I looked in their mouths, holy plaque city!!

Forward to 2020, a new term has emerged, COVID Gums. It’s a perfect storm for all involved.  And stress has a long non-ending story – loss of jobs, transition of jobs, jobs from home, kids at home, kids at school, should I send my kid to school, I feel guilty, how do I balance work and their school, do I quit my job to stay home to do their school, will Johnny even wear his mask to school he can’t even find his homework, and he blows his nose in his mask and oh, my work mask, can I go back safely, and you want me to wear how much to treat my patients, how will I breathe, and what do I do with my hair, a bonnet… man, my hair sucks I wish the salons were open, I can’t do my hair, I’ll cut my hair myself, oops, too short, Mom my hair looks like you put a bowl over it and cut it, it’s okay it will grow back, I’m bored mom, honey, you can’t stay up for the third night in a row playing Fortnight, and stop drinking all the soda pop and hot Cheetos, you have to stay off Xbox, and no more computer, and yes honey I need the computer for ZOOM and If I see one more ZOOM meeting I am going to scream until I wet my pants… pants, what are pants, I’ve been in my snoopy pajamas for three straight weeks, and yes, yes I smell, I’m not proud of it, hairbrush, maybe… toothbrush, what is that?

Never have I seen more bleeding gums, digression of disease state and jaw and TMD issues.  Honestly, patients are saying that their home care has really slipped due to changing work schedules, children’s in home schooling schedules, lack and loss of routine, complete and utter stress, reaching for more carb friendly, easy snacking foods as grocery stores are out of healthier options, lack and loss of interest due to depression, the fact that they aren’t washing their hair as much so they are letting other hygiene aspects go, they are now wearing masks which hides breath odor to some, while others notice their own halitosis which encourages better home care. Whatever the reason, globally, it has been noticed among many hygienists’ that oral care has taken a back seat.  Sadly, several patients have digressed to such a point that periodontal therapy discussions may have to be re-addressed, even though scaling might have just been done pre COVID.
So as dental hygienists, what do we do?

  1. Allow grace.  So many people are coming in with sad stories.  Loss of jobs, loss of homes, divorce and anger in the midst of COVID. Fires, addictions, politics….UGH! Never have I seen so much rage and anger and if we can be the ones to show grace in their journey it will go a long way as a trusted oral health care specialist.
  2. Give encouragement. Even the small steps toward healthier home care is better than nothing. Encourage better sleep, and eating right. Picking up a hair brush and a tooth brush daily always helps. Give examples of good routines. Find out those small subtleties that discourage breakage in routines. Encourage self-care and its promotion toward self-healing.
  3. Listen.  So many times we offer advice, and we get into the mechanical aspects of our job that we often miss what someone is saying, or not saying, in terms of non-verbal language. Someone who is having a hard day will not hear about home care until they are either acknowledged in their behavior or assessed in terms of their mental health. We don’t have to be psychologists to say, “Gosh, I am so sorry you are having a bad day.  Anything I can do?” Right now, mental health has not even been broached by a world that is suffering.
  4. Tell the truth. “Mrs. Johnson, sorry to tell you this, but after seeing the measurements today, we have digressed in care”. This conversation is being heard in many offices. Truth telling is hard but needs to be said.  No one knew that a virus would sweep through our lives and it doesn’t matter who, are what’s at fault, it’s just truth.
  5. Be the patient’s cheerleader.  With all of the isolation, mask wearing and distancing taking place, someone who already feels alone, can be pushed further into isolation. Just being there for someone, even if you are providing oral care, is so therapeutic. Knowing you care can make such a difference.

As we continue to navigate a new normal in every aspect of our lives, we will see the challenges that this time of adversity brings. As dental hygienists we have the tools for success to provide grace, give encouragement, listen, tell the truth and be someone’s cheerleader.





Colorado Dental Board Seeks Applicants

By Laura Jacob, RDH, MA, CHC
CODHA Immediate Past President

Many of you may have been surprised by the email from DORA on 8.31.2020 requesting applications from current Colorado dental hygiene licensees. This was a first of its kind. If you are interested in serving the citizens of Colorado in this capacity, please apply ASAP.

As a former Board Member, 1999 to 2009, it was truly an honor and a pleasure to serve in this capacity. I learned so much about licensure and regulations and it opened a multitude of doors. I have life-long friendships and deep respect for the other professionals and specialties that moved through the Board positions. I am so grateful for this experience and for all who have preceded, currently serve and for those yet to come!

To apply, please send your resume to Yukon Morford, Program Director, at, and fill out an application on Governor Polis’ Boards and Commissions website.
For more information, please check out the Colorado Dental Board’s website or contact Yukon Morford, Program Director, at


Friday-December 11th

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” All rights to The Explorer are reserved. Any reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior permission of the editor and specific author. Neither the Editor nor CODHA are in any way responsible for articles of views published in The Explorer. A portion of your dues supports efforts to further protect, promote, and advance dental hygiene practice in the state of Colorado. This portion may not be tax deductible and is indicated as an assessment. CODHA does not endorse any specific products or services including those provided by exhibitors or advertisers used to promote an association activity or event.”