NATHE, RDH, MS, is
director at the University
of New Mexico, Division
of Dental Hygiene, in
Albuquerque, N.M. She
is also the author of
“Dental Public Health
educator), which is in its
fourth edition with
Pearson. She can be
reached at cnathe@
salud.unm.edu or (505)
An advocate in New Hampshire
Public health hygienist develops programs, catching the eye of local media
Dental hygienists have more career opportunities than
ever in public health. Cindy Bishop has developed an
amazing program and is still developing more. Her accomplishments showcase what a dental hygienist is
capable of creating!
She graduated from New Hampshire Technical
Institute with an associate’s degree and Granite State
College with a bachelor’s degree. She used these degrees to help advance dental hygiene while serving
those most in need. Recently, I asked Cindy some
questions about her career.
Why did you decide to go into dental hygiene?
My decision was initially based on the amount of time
it would take me to receive my degree and the location
of the school. I had worked in a dental office in my early
twenties, but never entertained the idea of dental hygiene.
Once I decided to return to college, when my daughters
were 12 and 9, I started researching different areas of
study. After high school I had entered college to study
elementary education. I married and started a family, so
I did not finish at the time. I always knew I would return
to finish my degree.
That being said, I did not feel I had the time, while
raising a family, to finish the teaching degree, so I researched other areas of study. It was then that I came
across dental hygiene. It took three years, two of which
were full time, to complete my associate’s in dental hygiene. I was then 35. Eight years ago I again returned to
college and earned my bachelor’s.
How did you get into dental public health? Did you
need additional education?
When I applied for my current position, which I have
held for 15 years, there was no specific certification in
New Hampshire needed. I had already been in private
practice for 11 years so I had experience under my belt.
The school-based dental program position I applied for
was new to me. Since I have had an interest in working
with children throughout my life, this seemed a good fit.
During the last five years, New Hampshire established
a certified public
health dental hygiene
license that allows
those of us with this
certification to place
restorations (or glass
ionomer sealants) un-
der general supervi-
sion. This has been a
major step in our abil-
ity to help children
who otherwise would
not get to a dental
office for one reason or another.
There is a program now in place in the state of New
Hampshire for any dental hygienist who is interested in
working in public health. The track requires eight courses
in order to attain certification.
What is your current position?
Currently, I am dental coordinator for Seacoast Healthy
Grins school-based program, which is administered
through Families First, a federally qualified health center
(FQHC). Over the years I have expanded this program
as well as created new programs, all pertaining to oral
health, of course!
When I started there were three elementary schools
and three preschools on my roster. Today, there are 13
schools that I bring the program to, serving over 1,900
children. Additionally, since 2008, I run the early childhood dental program at Families First where we see all
children in our well child program from ages six months
to three years of age.
Educating the parents is the key to keeping our children’s oral health in check. While working at Families
First, I am the oral health educator bringing dental health
presentations to our family programs as well.
My organization recently received a grant to bring
oral health services into nursing homes so that is where
Cindy Bishop, RDH