( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Whitney DiFoggio Uses Her Acting and Dental Experience To Encourage Better Oral Care
ENSPIRE Contributor: Naomi Stamps
Dental Hygienist Whitney DiFoggio is using her passions to both entertain and give others a unique perspective on oral hygiene. During college, she struggled with determining if dentistry or theater would be her main focus. She eventually opted for an in-between option by attending dental hygiene school while acting on the side. After graduating, Whitney DiFoggio worked as a full-time hygienist, which forced her to place her acting passion on hold. In order to continue her artistic expression, she started making videos from home focused on teeth. What first began as an activity to entertain loved ones became a successful YouTube platform.
Whitney DiFoggio founded her YouTube channel TeethTalk, which soon evolved into a website that provides additional videos and articles covering topics such as oral cancer screenings and teeth whitening. She has over 29M subscribers on her channel and the number continues to grow. Besides working on her TeethTalk brand, this dental hygienist recently partnered with American TV personality Dr. Oz to create “Teeth Talk with Whitney.” This oral and wellness channel is now featured on the Oz channel, which is a great accomplishment.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Whitney DiFoggio has also co-founded a company called Happy Teeth. This company provides bags and accessories, including tooth-shaped purses (which is a cool invention!). For every item purchased, Happy Teeth proudly donates Dental Essential Kits to those who need them.
Whitney DiFoggio graduated from dental hygiene school in 2015 from Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. She also graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Her brand’s mission is to raise awareness on oral health in an intriguing way to motivate others to care for themselves inside and out. This hygienist loves helping people whether it’s in the dental office or the comment section on her YouTube channel. She shows what it means to use your passion to make a positive impact.
ENSPIRE spoke with Whitney DiFiggio about her passions and dental hygiene tips.
When and how did you discover your strong passions for teeth and acting?
I always loved both teeth and acting so it was difficult for me to decide which one I wanted to study in college. What I ended up doing was choosing dental hygiene school and working on acting on the side. I landed a gig as a stand-in for the television show “Chicago PD” which was so fun! I would run back and forth between dental hygiene school and the Chicago Studios, which kept me super busy and happy!
However, once I graduated and started working full-time as a dental hygienist, I could no longer juggle both …and I quickly realized how much I missed the entertainment space! I truly wanted to find a way to do both. So I thought why not get my “acting energy” out by creating videos about teeth on YouTube (YouTube.com/TeethTalk)! Combining my passions for both teeth and acting simply just made sense!
How did you end up partnering with Dr. Oz for your “Teeth Talk With Whitney” segment?
Partnering with Dr. Oz’s OZtube was great! I remember when we were working on creating our YouTube studio in my spare bedroom (turning the spare bedroom into a dental office set), we received a call from our PR team about the OZtube opportunity. After meeting with the OZtube producers, we actually ended up pushing back our launch date because we were still waiting on the dental chair to arrive for our set (after months of shipping delays). Long story short – the day after the chair arrived, we filmed the first few episodes, as the wall paint was still drying behind me on camera! It was a wild start, but so fun! The opportunity with OZtube helped extend my reach to help my mission of accessible, free dental education for all.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a dental hygienist?
I wish I knew more about the importance of chairside manner and clinician-to-patient communication. Over the years, I’ve learned how to navigate certain dental situations through experience, but I would have loved to be more prepared about how to deliver information as a healthcare professional.
Making my YouTube videos definitely helped me prepare how to phrase certain dental scenarios in advance, so I’m now ready when it comes up in person. Having the skills to be an effective, trustworthy guide in patients’ dental decisions is a HUGE part of the career that I was unaware of during my studies (because I was so focused on the science and clinical skills).
What steps can be taken after consuming foods like cranberry sauce to prevent harm to your teeth?
Since cranberries are sticky and acidic, they can wreak havoc on your teeth. To reduce your chance of cavities – be sure to drink water to neutralize the acid levels in your mouth. Drinking water is the best thing you can do to combat sticky, acidic, sugary foods from sitting too long on your teeth.
Don’t brush immediately after eating because the tooth enamel is at its most weakened state (especially after indulging in acidic foods). It’s best to wait 30-60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth.
Lastly, do not forget to brush your teeth at night (once in the morning and once at night is best, but unfortunately lots of people skip nighttime). So no matter how tired you are, don’t skip your bedtime brushing session. In addition to brushing, adding floss and a fluoride mouthwash will give your enamel extra strength to reduce your chance of tooth decay.
How can you enjoy food without damaging your teeth?
Limiting Exposure: Eating or drinking tooth-staining foods/beverages every now and then won’t cause severe stains. But if consumed regularly, they can start to build up and get worse.
Drinking Through A Straw: Another way to limit the contact time on your teeth is using a straw when drinking tooth-staining beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda.
Drinking Water After: Be sure to thoroughly rinse with water after indulging in tooth-staining foods.
What are 3 dental tips that aren’t stressed enough?
Tongue Scraping – Tongue scraping removes trapped food debris and bacteria on the surface of your tongue, which is known to harbor as much as 90% of the bad-breath bacteria that cause bad breath.
Gentle Brushing – If you’re pressing too hard or using a medium or firm toothbrush – you can literally brush your gums away and cause gum recession. Gum recession is where your gums are receding away from your tooth. And when you have too much gum recession, the tooth root starts to become exposed, which often feels sensitive to cold sensations and can lead to tooth mobility. Always use a SOFT bristled toothbrush and always use a gentle, light grip when you’re holding your toothbrush.
Drinking Water – Drinking water is one of the best ways to indulge in your favorite treats. The typical pH level inside of our mouth is between 6 and 7 (super neutral) and water is usually around 6.5 and 8 (super similar)! However, for example, most soda has a pH between 2 and 3 (extremely acidic). Due to water’s neutral pH – it helps bring our mouth back to a healthy pH after we expose it to acids, sugars, and other sticky foods and drinks – thus reducing our chance of tooth decay.
It’s inspiring how Whitney DiFoggio is committed to helping others smile. Not only does she help with dental advice, but she also offers a listening ear to those needing to vent. She shows us that helping others while pursuing our passions can go hand-in-hand. It comes down to how much you want it. Whitney DiFoggio also shows us that it’s okay to think outside of the box. While most dentists go the traditional route in educating others, this hygienist takes it up a notch to make it memorable and fun to learn.
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