Oral Health Group

Through the Eyes of a Dental Hygienist

March 5, 2021
by Martha De Prosperis, BMO Bank of Montreal

In February of 2021, I interviewed Eva Drinkwalter. Working in the dental field had been Eva’s dream for as long as she can remember. Now, 20 years into her career, she is still loving her career choice! Eva spent the first 7 years as a dental assistant before upgrading her education and achieving her qualifications to become a hygienist.

Eva was raised in a household of all women after losing her father at a young age. Now, working in a female-dominated industry, certainly poses benefits and challenges. The benefit of working with women is having relatable work-life struggles, such as having a career and raising a young family (Eva is a proud mother of two children: Bennett, 8 and Brooklyn, 5), along with being challenged by not having diverse input from all perspectives.

Over the last 20 years, there has not been a significant change in the gender status according to Eva. Eva’s dental class consisted of 27 female and 3 male students. The stats also appear to be consistent in the workforce today, with the majority of hygienists and assistants remaining dominantly female.

When asked to describe what she enjoys about being a hygienist, Eva lights up and lists the following: being able to educate others to better their lives, helping young patients to create healthy habits and making others feel confident about themselves.  But the benefits of being a hygienist go beyond cleaning teeth.

Eva is very passionate about the extras and going above and beyond, such as by conducting surrounding tissue exams to check for oral cancer. Eva understands the anxiety about coming to a dental appointment and takes time to create positive experiences from the moment patients walk into the office until they have a big smile at the end of the appointment. Eva loves to tell stories and has mastered having a joint conversation with someone that can only motion “yes or no” as their mouth is propped open for cleaning. Eva has a large list of clients that request to been seen by her and many times patients ask for story updates from the last visit.

Her advice to anyone who is thinking about entering the hygiene profession is to reach out to someone currently active in the hygiene field and ask questions to understand the day and the life of this profession. This career is incredibly rewarding because you are helping people every day and the flexibility is perfect to raise a family and focus on a job you love. The piece that Eva misses is career growth; there is limited opportunity to advance your career unless you go back to school and pursue dentistry.

Here are a few tips Eva provides that help keep her strong both mentally and physically:

  • Take time for yourself.
  • Go for regular massages and exercise.
  • Stay strong. Hygiene work can be very demanding on your body so making sure you are strong will reflect in the work you do.
  • Slow down the pace of life to enjoy it and make sure you get the most of each day.

Lastly, Eva states that the current environment with the pandemic has been challenging, but it has also allowed her to spend more time with each patient. It has also given her more time with her family to truly appreciate how fortunate and grateful she has been through this tough time.

About BMO

At, BMO we recognize and celebrate the strong women in our communities, making a difference and motivating others to do the same.  Follow us on Twitter at #BMOforWomen and check out our website bmoforwomen.com to know more. Join the conversation about women’s success and experience and see how fascinating this community is.

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