What Life is This?

In My Story by Stephanie Botts

From a young age, I was always interested in teeth. I was congenitally missing my lateral incisors, so I spent a lot of time in the dental chair, from orthodontics to getting dental implants when I was just 16! I remember having great experiences at the dental office, I never had any fear, and I enjoyed going. So when it came down to a decision for my career path, and being the health-focused preventive person I am, dental hygiene was a perfect choice!

I LOVE being a dental hygienist! We can impact our patients’ oral and systemic health, and I get so excited when I see patients begin to change their behavior and improve their health. I also enjoy working as part of a team and building strong relationships with patients and my fellow team members.

However, there was something I really, really, didn’t love; the pain and fatigue that plagues most of us in dentistry.

About ten years into my career, I started experiencing pain which started as occasional inconveniences but grew into ongoing, chronic, sometimes debilitating pain. My performance at work was starting to decline, I was missing days because of pain or doctor appointments, and my quality of life began to suffer.

Although I saw multiple medical specialists to help, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists etc., I still was experiencing pain when I went back to work. So I knew I was doing something wrong in the op and decided to focus on my ergonomics. I felt like I had forgotten everything I learned in school about positioning and neutral posture. So I took some courses, researched, and started making small changes in the op while I was working. I almost immediately felt the results! I had less pain and more energy (both at work and after), and I found joy in being a dental hygienist again. All because of ergonomics!

With this experience, I decided this was the direction I wanted my career to take. So, I got certified as an ergonomic assessment specialist and founded my company, PosturePros.

I now provide what I wish I had as a practitioner; an objective view of how clinicians work. I assess and coach clinicians individually while they practice. I take photos, video, and evaluate everything, from their stool, op layout, instruments, posture, and more! I provide each client with a comprehensive report that includes photos (there’s nothing like seeing yourself in pictures and video while you’re working), suggestions on behavior/habit change, and recommendations for stretches, exercises, and equipment. Finally, I actively coach clinicians while they work on their patients, so we can figure out real, tangible solutions to help them work safer.

I am so happy to provide this service to my fellow dental practitioners! I also speak nationally on ergonomics and substance use disorder (another passion of mine). So speaking has allowed me to spread this message to as many dental clinicians as possible!

It’s funny, when I decided to start my own business, I thought I would have more free time. This has not been the case! I have never been busier between practicing dental hygiene part-time, coaching with PosturePros, speaking, writing articles, podcasts, social media, and networking. But when you’re doing something you love and believe in, it doesn’t feel like a burden.

When I look back on this first year of PosturePros and this new life I’ve created for myself, I am humbled and amazed. I never thought I would be a business owner, helping dental practitioners with their ergonomics! I am proud to be an entrepreneur and am excited about the future. With that being said, this journey into entrepreneurship has not been without its challenges.

Starting a business can be scary, lonely, and an emotional roller coaster ride. Only YOU know your vision, mission, and goals when you first start. You will talk with people who won’t believe in your idea, think it’s too hard or too risky, and try to keep you “safe” by encouraging you to keep your head down and continue with the status quo. You HAVE to remember why you’re doing this and your ultimate goal. You will feel like giving up, question yourself, and feel discouraged. You will have great days and awful days.

Talking to fellow entrepreneurs helps navigate all the emotions and ups and downs. Talking with people who have been there and have come out the other side has saved me this first year! I appreciate all the people I have spoken with because they have helped me keep my mission in mind and given me much-needed perspective.

Entrepreneurship is NOT easy, and it’s a constant push and hustle to get your message out. It takes passion, dedication, and an incredible work ethic. But I have learned if you have these qualities, the sky’s the limit! You can do so much more than you ever dreamed possible.

Sometimes, I take a step back and look at this new life I’ve created for myself. I can’t believe the change over this last year and am so excited for the future. I know it will be challenging and will still have its ups and downs, but as long as I stay true to myself and my mission, and lean on my fellow entrepreneurs for their wisdom and guidance, I will achieve my goals.