My Dental Journey

In My Story by Theresa Sheppard

My dental journey began over 40 years ago as a Registered Dental Assistant. After 10 years as a chairside assistant, I made the move “up front” and I went on to manage general practices for over 25 years.

As much as I love the clinical aspect of dentistry, I discovered that in administration, I had additional opportunities to increase my professional development. As office manager, I needed to became an expert in risk management protocol, accounts receivables & payables, insurance coding, billing and tracking, financial arrangements, budgets, OSHA, HR, HIPAA and numerous other tasks.

I have held many positions in a practice, so I understand the challenges that each position faces. Being fortunate enough to have that unique perspective has helped me become a better leader and at the same time helped me discover a love of teaching.

My passion for dentistry and teaching merged when I became developer and director of Career Express Dental Assisting School and became a California Dental Board CE provider and Radiation Safety Course Provider.

I have always loved educating my patients and have had a long-time interest in the oral systemic link, but it wasn’t until a devastating illness with my best friend, did I make it my mission.

You see, what we all were told by physicians was a stubborn case of pneumonia, turned out to be stage 4 lung cancer and stage 2 lymphoma. No one could understand. How could this be? She had no risk factors. Were the doctors mistaken? No, tragically, they weren’t.

She was getting no oral care in an ICU step-down unit. Starting that minute, I provided her oral care myself.

As I was looking after her, I started to reflect on other situations I had experienced during my dental career and one distinct case comes to mind.

The nursing home called and told our patient that his mother had a broken tooth.

What we saw when she arrived was disturbing. What the staff thought was a broken tooth was actuality a large piece of broken calculus that was sharp & cutting her tongue. Clearly, oral care was not being given in any form…despite what the documentation in her chart said.

What started as my mission to care for Janet, has now become my mission to care for others. The proudest moment of my dental career was the day I received a 501C3 status for Care 2 U Oral Care Administrative Services.

Theresa is a Registered Dental Assistant, Speaker, Consultant, and Founder and COO of Care 2 U Oral Care Administrative Services, nonprofit organization that provides portable oral care services to those without access or means.

Theresa is a member of many professional organizations including Academy of Dental Management Consultants, Speaking Consulting Network, American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, DIY Digital Dental Consulting, Dental Codeology Consortium, Beyond Oral Health, Davis High Health Advisory Board, is a founding member of the Modesto Holistic Chamber of Commerce, Veterans Employment Committee of Stanislaus County, and a Stanford VA Brain Health Citizen / Scientist Advisory Board Member.