Member Spotlight - Mary Lynn Smith, RDH

Mary Lynn Smith, RDH

Our member spotlight this month is Mary Lynn Smith, RDH who has been an active member of ALD since 2004. Her journey with lasers started with a bit of skepticism, but after attending an ALD annual conference and learning of the many benefits of laser use, she hasn't looked back since! Mary Lynn participates in several ALD committees, including Auxiliary, Membership and Certification. You may contact Mary Lynn at [email protected].



When I offer laser-assisted periodontal therapy as a first step, I can offer hope.

When did you begin using dental lasers in your practice?
I began using lasers in 2001. I have to say I was not a fan in the beginning. I didn’t understand them and was concerned about potential harm. The dentist I worked for decided we would be implementing lasers into the entire practice. The 4-hour introductory training didn’t leave me with a confident feeling about understanding the instrument at all, much less how to implement it. I discussed this with my doctor, and he decided the best solution was for me to attend the Academy of Laser Dentistry annual conference. He understood exactly what I needed—the education and exposure to many types of lasers used safely in dentistry. That marked the beginning of an incredible journey. I haven’t looked back since!


How has the use of dental lasers changed the way you practice dental hygiene?
Can a hygienist admit wanting to avoid perio? I have always been committed to evaluating periodontal health, but I dreaded the return visits because most of the patients were not getting healthier. I felt like both the patient and I were figuratively treading water and sometimes drowning. That led me to talk a lot about restorative work, orthodontics, the patient’s next vacation, grandchildren and not much about their perio. Introducing lasers into my practice gave me a new platform for communication and increased patient acceptance. It also helped me get very good at treatment planning each case (the answer to my weak link). BAM! With a great treatment plan, definitive instrumentation, profound decontamination, super patient motivation, I found patients not only got healthier faster but maintained their health better and longer. I loved it when those return appointments were celebrations of 70, 80, and 90% improvement in bleeding, pocket depths, and a number of teeth with pocketing. It wasn’t just me being excited, the patient caught the spark too.


How have your patients responded to the use of dental lasers for their procedures?
It is fairly common for patients to become emotional when they learn about their compromised periodontal health and how it may be affecting their systemic health. When I offer laser-assisted periodontal therapy as a first step, I can offer hope. Patients really appreciate treatment starting with a non-surgical strategy. They understand I am doing all I can to improve their level of health with cutting edge technology and training. As the initial therapy is completed and the assessment shows the resolution versus challenged areas, the patients often become more committed to their dental care both daily and professionally. They are encouraged and work hard to keep gaining better health. This creates strong, loyal relationships with patients.


How did you become involved with the Academy of Laser Dentistry?
The first conference I attended was about obtaining my standard proficiency. The exchange of information, experience, and discussion was more than I could’ve hoped for. I was buzzing with the energy from the conference. I had to learn more, know more, do more. That meant I had to come back to the next annual conference (and the next and the next). Little did I know that as I connected with these people, I would find fantastic mentors and deep friendships. I have had incredible opportunities professionally as a result of these relationships. I received my standard proficiency in 810nm Diode and 1,064nm Nd:YAG in 2004. In 2007 I achieved advanced proficiency with the Nd:YAG and in 2012 standard proficiency in 10,600nm CO2. In 2014, I was the first dental hygienist to prove advanced proficiency for the 10,600nm CO2.

I have served on various committees such as the auxiliary committee and certification committee. I have served many years as an examiner for both standard and advanced proficiencies, as well as, being part of the faculty for the annual conference standard proficiency course. Contributing to the dental community through speaking at conferences, providing in-office consulting, writing a chapter in a dental laser textbook have all been experiences I treasure. It was such an honor to receive the ALD Leon Goldman award for clinical excellence in 2018. I have flourished as a person and a professional because of my involvement in the Academy of Laser Dentistry.


Which benefits from your ALD membership do you most utilize?
Many benefits are intangible as I mentioned previously. The value of relationships can never be underestimated. Tangible benefits such as the hands-on opportunities to see and work with all different kinds of lasers have deepened my understanding of laser technology and application. I would also say the excellent lectures and continuing education credit hours are very important. I appreciate the annual conferences offer a variety of laser applications in dentistry from dealing with implants to best practices in dental hygiene to improving root canal success and more. Learning how we can do more for our patients and in a better way is inspiring. The Academy of Laser Dentistry is a tremendous resource for connections and knowledge.


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Comments on "Member Spotlight - Mary Lynn Smith, RDH"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Mel A Burchman - Saturday, November 21, 2020

Congratulations on this spot light of your career. YOU TOTALLY DESERVE IT! It has always been a pleasure working together with you on many ALD projects. I have always said that the ALD has the best laser hygienists in the world and you are at the forefront of them. Sincerely and well deserved - Dr. Mel Burchman

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