After 40 years of gazing into folks’ mouths, pioneering dental hygienist Hazel Cameron can still find plenty of reasons to smile.
Hazel, 57, celebrated four decades of working in the region this week.
Now based at Hawick’s Teviot Dental Practice in North Bridge Street, she started off her career as a 17-year-old dental nurse a short distance along the same street at the Pallin Auckland and McDonald Dental Practice, working there from 1978 to 2004.
The mum of three was the first full-time dental hygienist in the Borders and is a staunch advocate of the importance of the role dental health plays in overall wellbeing.
She still loves her work and and has no plans to retire, although she admits the last 40 years have “whizzed by”.
Hazel said: “I started working as a dental nurse in 1978 just because it was a job and I liked it and I saw there was a real need for prevention as well as treating gum disease.
“There had never been a hygienist in the Borders before. There was one lady who did some part-time work in Galashiels three years before me, but I was the first anywhere else in the Borders.
“It’s a much more popular job now. There’s many more of us about.
“I like the company of the patients, and I love to see a job well done and to fix a problem.
“People are now much more aware of their dental health, especially as there are now so many health issues linked with gum disease. It’s never been more important.
“Your mouth is part of your body. It’s a gateway to your body.”
Hazel, chairperson of British Society of Dental Hygiene Therapy Scotland, for four years up to 2017, added: “It’s about the person behind the mouth. I work in a lovely practice with lovely patients, and that’s what I do it for.
“It doesn’t seem like 40 years. It’s whizzed by.
“If somebody had said to me 40 years ago, I’d still be working with teeth in 40 years, I would not be able to comprehend that.
“I enjoy my job and have no plans for retirement.”
Staff at her current practice have posted a video on the company’s website marking Hazel’s four-decade career.
You can watch it by logging on to facebook.com/TeviotDentalPractice