“It’s a terrible story!” Cindy Nungester laughs when asked why she became a dental hygienist. It wasn’t out of passion or family ties but rather practicality. She had wanted to be a teacher, but the only program that fit her timetable to help provide for her family was dental hygiene. Thankfully, that practical decision turned into a career she has been passionate about for 20 years now.
It turns out Cindy’s desire to teach is still fulfilled as a dental hygienist. “It’s rewarding to teach patients something that improves their oral care, which in turn betters their overall health. Patient education is a big part of my job and my favorite part.”
Cindy joined the team at Overseas Dental Multispecialty Center one year ago, shortly after her Army husband was transferred to the area. It’s their ninth station in 20 years. Moving around frequently has taught her how to quickly spot a good workplace when she sees it.
“We move every 3 years, so I know what to look for, and that’s strong morals and great work ethics. Dr. Maya and the Overseas Dental team fit that bill perfectly.”
The dental hygienists at Overseas Dental work primarily with Dr. Maya, the resident Prosthodontist and founder of Overseas Dental, and Dr. Alemany, the General Dentist and newest member of the team. Though, they also work with the associate doctors as needed. “Overseas Dental is primarily a team, and we all work together to ensure our patients get the best possible care.”
That team also includes two other dental hygienists, Marta and Jessie. Marta has been in the business for 35 years and Jessie came to Overseas Dental straight from dental hygiene school.
“We make a great team because Jessie brings the new methods from school, and Marta and I bring our decades of hands-on experience,” Cindy explains. “We have a good balance with different strengths and a broad knowledge base to help our patients.”
Working in the Keys has been a happy adjustment for Cindy, especially considering their last duty station was in upstate New York. She marvels at how the Keys are busy, yet the people are laidback. “My patients are great! The Keys people are just happy and relaxed. The hardest part is getting them off their boat and into the chair!”
She’s also noticed how family-oriented the Keys are and how that is strongly reflected in their office. “I get emotional when I talk about Dr. Maya because he believes in what he does, and I believe in him,” Cindy says. “He puts us and his patients first, and then his business. I’ve heard him say, ‘You do right by your people, and success will come,’ and he’s proven that’s true.”
That mentality carries over into how the dental hygienists care for their patients. They do right by them, both medically and personally. The patient questionnaire even includes a section about the patient’s dental anxiety. Dental anxiety keeps many people from getting the care they desperately need, so the team does everything they can to alleviate it.
Cindy relates how Jessie recently had a new patient with high dental anxiety. Jessie noted from her questionnaire that the woman was nervous about coming in so she went above and beyond to make her comfortable from the time she walked in the door. “By the end of the visit,” Cindy says, “Jessie had her giggling. She went from fearful to enjoying her time at the dentist.”
Cindy goes on to say, “This office has some of the most compassionate, patient people I have ever worked with. As an Army wife who has worked all over this country, that says a lot.”
–Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.