As a child, Christin Yokiel was scared of going to the dentist. Today, she spends her days polishing, X-raying, and examining dental patients. One of her main goals is to put her patients at ease.
Dental hygiene is Yokiel’s second career. She graduated from Shenandoah University in 2012 with a degree in exercise science/kinesiology, plus a minor in biology. She then took a job as a fitness specialist and personal trainer at an area wellness center.
While Yokiel enjoyed her training job, she soon began exploring the idea of returning to school or finding a new career that offered better pay and a better schedule, as well as a new challenge.
One of her clients told Yokiel that her daughter had recently graduated with a dental hygiene degree and was enjoying her new career. Meanwhile Yokiel’s mother-in-law was a dental assistant and she shadowed her at work for a day.
Additionally, she trained a few dentists and periodontists at her gym. Combined, these experiences inspired Yokiel to apply to the dental hygiene program at Laurel Ridge.
“I had always been scared of the dentist,” Yokiel said.
But, she is a meticulous person, one who enjoys picking and cleaning and “making things perfect,” so it’s perhaps not surprising she would find satisfaction in polishing clients’ teeth and helping them attain good oral hygiene.
Yokiel was able to attend classes and maintain her fitness training job on weekends while working on her associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene.
“I loved the program,” Yokiel said. “The instructors were phenomenal. My niece, who is a sophomore at James Wood High School, is now interested in the program.”
But, it’s not an easy degree program.
“It will be the hardest thing you’ve probably ever done,” Yokiel said. “I was so nervous about the local anesthesia training, but dental hygiene coordinator Dawn Southerly teaches that so well. We were very gentle and tried to go very slow in administering the anesthesia.
“It was was very tough, but our instructors just broke all the concepts down for us. I definitely have the confidence to be a good hygienist because of my training at Laurel Ridge.”
Laurel Ridge maintains a dental clinic where patients can receive free dental care, such as cleaning, fluoride application, X-rays and sealants.
Yokiel graduated from the program in 2018 and divides her time working at Berryville Dental Associates and Stephens City Family Dentistry.
“I love my work,” Yokiel said. “My coworkers are great. The dentists are phenomenal. They really take their time and their work is very detail oriented.
“My favorite aspect of my job is just making patients comfortable. I enjoy working one-on-one with them, and I always treat them like I would want to be treated.”
The median salary for dental hygienists is $83,740, according to labor market analytics firm Emsi.
Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s dental hygiene program at laurelridge.edu/dental. Those interested in scheduling an appointment at Laurel Ridge’s dental clinic should call (540) 868-7062.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.