Dental hygienist Anne Ossinger makes house calls
While most people dread going in for a dental cleaning, the patients of Anne Ossinger are made to feel a little more at ease; they get that clean-teeth feeling and they never have to leave their home.
For the past year, Ossinger has been what’s called an expanded-practice dental hygienist, serving limited-access populations such as the elderly and people who have disabilities. She makes house calls to residents of Linn and Benton counties, providing cleanings, exams and screenings, treatments and dentist referrals.
“In terms of the patient, a trip to the dentist can expend all the energy for the day,” she said. “If I can make that easier and create less stress, that’s what I’m here for.”
Ossinger started her business, DoorStep DentalHygiene LLC, in March 2011. She has about 25 regular patients, most of whom contacted her after hearing good reports from her regular patients. In a very real way, her business success is spreading by word of mouth.
Ossinger said business has been growing slowly, and right now she breaks even financially. But she plans to expand her patient base to reach populations that do not have sufficient access to dental care.
She joined the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce last month to increase her visibility and to spread the word about her unique service from another platform.
To supplement her income, Ossinger works as a substitute hygienist at North Point Dental Group in Corvallis and works on sealant programs for children through the Oregon Health Authority.
Part of her goal is to educate people.
“You can’t have good overall health care without good oral health care,” she said. For example, “you’re much more likely to have gum disease if you have diabetes,” and vice versa, she said.
She noticed that most people consider there’s a divide between oral health and the health of the rest of the body.
“They’re two different cultures, and they don’t play golf,” she said.
Although she speaks passionately about how integral oral health is to overall physical well-being, she initially took some meandering career paths to reach her current field.
She always had been interested in health care because both of her parents practice medicine, but she spent 10 years working in the hotel management industry and 17 years at Hewlett-Packard Co. Then Ossinger decided about five years ago to change her career yet again; she returned to college to become a dental hygienist.
Ossinger said that her two years of studying dental hygiene science at Pacific University emphasized limited-access patients and included clinical rotations at nursing homes, hospitals and prisons.
DoorStep DentalHygiene, as far as Ossinger knows, is the only business in the area that deals specifically with this population. She chose to work with this demographic because of the need.
“Everyone needs dental care,” she said. “Nursing homes, adult foster homes, adult group homes, assisted living facilities — just the fact those exist tells me there’s a need.”
Emily Gillespie can be reached at 541-758-9548 or emily.