It’s their job: Portales dental hygienist educates about oral heatlh

Victoria Lops is a hygienist in the office of dentist Peter Thompson in Portales, where she’s worked for the past five years.

Lops grew up in California and Texas before ending up in Albuquerque with her husband, Rey, and three children, Jacob, Cristen and Maria. After graduating from dental hygiene school at the University of New Mexico, Lops served as a hygienist in Albuquerque for five years before moving to Portales.

Aside from her decade as a hygienist, Lops has also served in various capacities for a total of 21 years in dentistry.

Why did you choose this job?

When I first started out, it was in Grand Forks, N.D., where they had a dental assistant program and I got interested. So I was trained there and went to work at a dentist’s office. The hygienist there told me I would make an excellent hygienist.

What does your job entail?

What I do is actually clean their teeth, and my role, as a hygienist, is to educate patients on the importance of keeping their mouths healthy. Anything that’s going on in your mouth systemically affects the rest of your body, so it’s very important to keep your mouth and teeth clean.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I usually get my trays ready for the patients. I look at the patient list to see what is coming in, whether it be just a routine cleaning or deep tissue therapy. I see, on the average, about eight to 10 patients a day. It just varies, because some patients require more time.

What kind of training did you need for this job?

I have a bachelor’s (degree) in biology and dental hygiene. I’m licensed through the state, and I also have an anesthesia license. New Mexico is one of the states where hygienists can anesthetize their own patients.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

The most rewarding part is taking a patient that hasn’t been in for a long time and really helping them value the importance of their oral health. They tell me they feel better or their mouth feels better, their body feels better. I love building a rapport with the patients. It’s like a friendship.

— Compiled by PNT Staff Writer Eric Butler