"There are opportunities to continue to learn and develop and I may consider teaching when I am a bit older."
After she left school aged 16, Cheryl studied dental nursing at college and later developed her career in the dental team as a dental hygienist.
I was a dental nurse for five years before training to be a hygienist.
Many people don’t realise what being a dental hygienist involves. It’s not for the squeamish – someone once popped their false eye out and asked me to clean it!
I work as part of team in a general hospital where I see people who are very ill, depressed and anxious. One of the rewarding parts of the job is being able to spend time talking to them – not just about their treatment, but about their life, their family and so on.
As a hygienist you can work in a range of different places with different patients. When I was training I had placements in a community dental clinic, an acute mental health trust and a school for children with special needs.
The job itself is also extremely varied. In the hospital outpatient clinic I see all sorts of patients, from children undergoing orthodontic work to cancer patients who are having chemotherapy and need help in helping keep their mouths moist, as the treatment can leave them with sore and dry mouths.
There are opportunities to continue to learn and develop and I may consider teaching when I am a bit older.
The flexibility of the career is useful. I took some time off to do charity work in Tanzania, training local people in dentistry. It’s great to share skills with people who need them.
Annette Matthews is a dental hygienist and dental therapist. Read Annette's story