For this exclusive interview, we sat down with Amber Lust, a soon-to-be dentist with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field. Together, we explore what prompted her to pursue a career in dentistry and what she hopes to gain from her studies. We also discuss new innovations she's currently seeing in her studies at University, how she thinks they'll shape the future of dental care, and how she plans to use her expertise in practice.
Amber is also an avid believer in preventative measures when it comes to dental care, such as regular check-ups with a dentist and proper oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day. We discuss the importance of these practices for maintaining good oral health, especially during periods of high stress.
About Amber Lust
Amber Lust, a determined third-year student at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, is no stranger to the world of dentistry. Prior to her ongoing academic journey, she had already amassed extensive experience in the field. Lust was a certified dental assistant for half a dozen years, mastering her skills in general dentistry and oral surgery. This hands-on experience provided her with invaluable insights into the profession and honed her practical skills, setting a solid foundation for her current studies.
In the midst of the rigorous demands of dental school, Lust finds balance by dedicating time to personal health and fitness. She maintains her physical well-being and manages a fitness brand, showcasing her entrepreneurial spirit. Her passion extends beyond the confines of her professional interests, embracing hobbies that enrich her personal life. An avid golfer, Lust enjoys the precision and patience the sport requires, traits that are equally essential in her dental practice. On the side, she is an enthusiastic reader — a hobby that allows her to learn and grow, both personally and professionally constantly.
Despite the challenging nature of dental school, Lust is thriving. She now sees patients regularly in the clinic, a significant milestone that bridges her academic pursuits with real-world application. This opportunity to interact with patients, build relationships, and directly impact their oral health reaffirms her dedication to her chosen career path.
For Lust, it's not merely about the technical aspects of being a dentist, but the gratification derived from serving others, making each day a rewarding experience. The journey may be challenging, but Amber Lust faces each day with gratitude, embracing the opportunity to shape her future in the field of dentistry.
What motivated you to become a dentist? Was there a particular experience or influence that inspired your career choice?
I always knew I wanted to and my hands. Dentistry combines both of those things. I also have a sister-in-law in the dental field, and shadowing her sparked my interest in a way that stuck with me. I love that I can completely improve somebody’s confidence by improving their smile.
How do you stay updated with the latest advancements in the field of dentistry?
As a dentist, you are a lifelong learner. There are always new advancements in technology you have to keep up with. There are many continuing education courses that I can take to improve my knowledge in the field. I also love reading primary articles on subjects related to Dentistry.
In your opinion, what are some of the most significant technological advancements that have revolutionized dentistry in recent years? How have these advancements impacted your approach to patient care?
Artificial intelligence is certainly one of the most recent and significant technological advancements. Although AI isn't yet a diagnostic tool, it can be an aid in helping a dental practitioner with diagnoses. Digital scanning is another one, be it for implants, crowns, bridges, and dentures. It dramatically decreases the number of times a patient has to return for appointments and chairside time.
Dental anxiety is a common concern among patients. What strategies do you employ to help patients feel more comfortable and at ease during their dental visits?
One thing I will implement in my practice — as most do — for my patients is nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. It is one very beneficial tool in lessening a patient’s anxiety levels. It is also important to make your patient feel as comfortable as possible. I've found it helps to ask him/her questions about their life and to relate to them on a personal level. That way, their mind is off the procedure and they trust you as a person.
Oral health is closely linked to overall health. How do you educate your patients about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and its impact on their overall well-being?
This is one area I stress heavily as an individual and future dental practitioner. Every part of your body communicates with each other. One major condition that can be seen in the dental chair is hypertension or high blood pressure. There are many patients that go through life with high blood pressure but don't realize it. If dentists can identify factors of hypertension, it can lengthen one’s life and save them from future complications. I also like to educate my patients on the importance of a healthy diet as it affects their oral health.
With the rise of teledentistry and virtual consultations, what are your thoughts on the future of remote dental care? How will this technology influence the dental industry in the coming years?
This is a very interesting topic that is discussed in dental schools across the country. There are many benefits to teledentistry in virtual consultations, including being able to access those in underserved areas that are not able to receive dental treatment. Dental hygienists and dental therapists can go out into these underserved areas and hop on a Zoom call with the dentist in another area and take necessary radiographs and photos of the patient's oral cavity and dentition. With necessary radiographs in photos, dentists are able to do oral cancer screenings and diagnose diseases like dental caries before they worsen.
Oral cancer awareness is an important topic in dentistry. How do you screen for and detect oral cancer in your practice?
There are many ways to diagnose and detect oral cancer. To ensure optimal care, I highly recommend patients schedule biannual visits to a reputable practice for comprehensive oral cancer screenings. This approach offers the greatest benefits and allows for timely detection and management of any potential concerns.
We assess soft tissue areas, including all areas of the tongue, floor of the mouth, and oropharynx. As a future dentist, I also strongly recommend patients who smoke or are over 55 to be seen regularly in my practice to be screened for oral cancer.
How can people with dental anxiety overcome their fears and get the dental care they need?
One suggestion for patients experiencing dental anxiety is to communicate their concerns to the provider in advance of their appointment. By being aware of your anxiety, the provider can better cater to your needs and ensure a more comfortable experience.
We are committed to making your appointment as pleasant as possible, so we always ask out patients to feel free sharing any tips or techniques that help alleviate anxiety. Out patients' well-being is always our top priority.
How can people maintain good oral health during periods of high stress, and what are some of the ways that stress can impact dental health?
During times of elevated stress, I always advise prioritizing your oral hygiene routine, even if you don't feel like it. Regular flossing, brushing, and biannual dental check-ups can promote a healthy mouth. It is important to note that stress not only affects oral health but also has implications for overall well-being.
What is your philosophy when it comes to patient-centered care, and how do you ensure your patients are actively involved in their treatment plans?
When devising a treatment plan, I strive to consider every available option that aligns with the patient's budget. I present all the treatment plans, outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each. I also offer my professional advice, while acknowledging the patient's autonomy to make their own decisions. Ultimately, the patient's happiness and satisfaction with their treatment are of utmost importance.
How do you prioritize preventive dentistry in your practice, and what strategies do you use to educate patients about the importance of regular checkups and cleanings?
Preventive dentistry holds paramount importance in my practice. An integral strategy that I aim to incorporate in my future endeavors is providing comprehensive oral hygiene instruction. It has come to my attention that a significant number of individuals lack the knowledge on proper brushing and flossing techniques. By imparting education on oral hygiene practices, patients will acquire the ability to proactively prevent dental diseases such as caries and avoid potential complications in the future.
Our team is committed to providing safe and effective products that provide users with the best possible oral hygiene experience. Furthermore, by actively engaging in conversations about good oral habits, we strive to raise awareness about preventive dentistry and the importance of regular checkups and cleanings. We're thrilled to be right alongside Amber on this journey toward better smiles!
We encourage the NatruSmile community to discover more about Amber's work and progress toward getting patients the perfect smile in her own practice. Give her a follow on Instagram to see what she's up to.