Translating dance to dental hygiene

26 June 2020

Brooke Becker, BSc DH '20

I grew up dancing, and my passions lay in the dance and fitness worlds. I'm embarrassed to admit that when I graduated high school, I announced I wanted to be the next Jillian Michaels. I was that weird kid who did Tae Bo in my basement!

I never considered dental hygiene because I didn't think I had the academic background for it. I always put dance first, and I didn't love reading, and I never thought, "Yes, science!" After high school, I moved to Edmonton and danced for the Eskimos. I didn't really know what I was doing.

One day I thought, "I might as well try for school; I'll never know unless I try." I was waitlisted the first year I applied. I could have applied elsewhere, but my mom noticed the consistent quality from graduates of the U of A. I figured if I was going to do this, I'm going to get the best education I can.

Dance translated

Dance taught me discipline, helping me with both studying and working in the clinic. I also learned to listen through dance, which translated to listening to my patients and reacting to how they react. You don't want to miss any of their cues if they're frustrated, anxious, or in pain.

You also have to be personable and take direction. With the Eskimos, we were required to do meet and greets and volunteer at community events. And you just have to show up for the organization and talk, which people don't understand: when you're in a dental office, you're showing up for that dental office.

Finally, I think I also fared better ergonomically. I have friends who are really athletic and into a lot of sports, but their backs still hurt... I'm just so used to sitting straight for dance. Professor Ritchie joked that she would show off my posture to all the first years.

Brooke working on a patient

What's not to love about dental hygiene?

I grew up at the dental office, where my mom was a dental assistant. I remember always asking if I could have a checkup or get a procedure, but nothing ever needed to be done. I just wanted to be in the chair. So weird!

So I loved the environment already, and I've seen that it works with having a family. I also love that there's so much more room for growth and there's always something to learn. It keeps me engaged and motivated. But I really fell in love with hygiene because I love people and their interactions.

The community is amazing, from our professors to my classmates. If I could go back, I would have asked the professors more questions and just gone to talk to them because they're all so great.

I found a group of supportive women in the program. I would not have been able to get through without them. It was nice to know that you're not competing against each other. You're just here to learn.

When my husband's office slowed down, he felt like he was settling into a good pace. So I'm looking forward to feeling that confidence too.


As long as I have an office that's understanding, that would mean the world to me. If I also have another hygienist mentoring me for the first little bit, that would be the dream!