GLADWIN – A successful and fulfilling 40 year career as a dental hygienist has come to an end for Yvonne Hildebrandt who retired from Mid-Michigan Dental Associates in May. Hildebrandt worked in the Gladwin practice for 19 years, previously working in Iron River, MI, St. Ignace, MI, and Mt. Pleasant, MI. Looking back at her long career, she remembers well how it started.
“When I was a sophomore in high school at Beaverton they were doing a thing and I remember they had these boxes with cards about different professions. I was looking through them and I saw dentistry and thought that it sounded interesting, I knew I didn’t want to be a dentist – but I thought dental hygiene would be a good one. So that’s what I pursued,” Hildebrant said. Once her decision was made she attended Kellogg Community College. Upon completing her education she took her first job in Ironriver, MI, in the Upper Peninsula. From when she started to the end of her career Hildebrandt has seen several significant changes within the industry.
“When I started we never routinely wore gloves or masks, so definitely the infection control has changed,” Hildebrandt said. Perhaps the most significant change she’s witnessed has been the way that technology has changed the dental professions. “Within the last 10 years the advent of Digital X-rays – that’s probably one of the biggest changes. They’re so much clearer and have more definition.”
Being a dental hygienist for 40 years has allowed her to notice one negative change within society. “I see a lot more dental decay now than I did 40 years ago,” Hildebrandt said. “People eat all the time now, and the pop and energy drinks. I guess that’s one of the sad things. We’re living in a time when decay should practically be eradicated and I saw more at the end than I did 40 years ago.”
For the last 19 years, Hildebrandt has enjoyed working at Mid-Michigan Dental Associates, particularly she has enjoyed working with her co-workers. “It’s been good, I hired in with Dr. Kruske, and of course it was sad to lose him to his retirement, but it was good to get Dr. Allen in before that. He fits in well, he likes the small town,” Hildebrandt said.
Being raised in Beaverton Hildebrandt also enjoys the small town atmosphere of the practice. “One thing I really liked when I started here was that you would be talking to somebody and they would have worked with my dad, or knew my sister. There was always a connection it seemed like. That’s always the advantage of a small town.”
Those connections with her patients is what she says she will miss the most. “You really form relationships with them. You’ve been through births, deaths, and new puppies,” Hildebrandt said. Leaving the practice she says that her hope is that she has left an effect on her patients over the years.
“You don’t think you’ve made a difference, but I just hope I brighten their day in some way other than just their smile.”