Amber Lovatos, RDH, BSDH, MAADH, is the clinical director of dental services at a nonprofit medical and dental clinic in Tomball, Texas. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, she serves as an adjunct assistant professor at her alma mater. Lovatos speaks nationally and regionally on teledentistry, public health, caring for the Latin community, abuse, and human trafficking. She is the co-founder of Dental Hygiene Spark, a social media platform dedicated to empowering dental hygienists. Identifying as “The Latina RDH,” Lovatos is also the founder of Latin RDH, a nonprofit dedicated to providing professional development and mentorships to Latino/a/xs in dental hygiene. She is also the host of a spinoff to “A Tale of Two Hygienists” podcast, “Un Cuento De Dos Higienistas.”
Lovatos is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Dental Education Association’s (ADEA) Crest Oral-B Scholarship for Dental Hygienists’ Pursuing Academic Careers, ADEA Sigma Phi Alpha Scholarship, American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) Irene Woodall Graduate Scholarship, and ADHA Mars Wrigley Community Outreach Grant.
Q. What inspired you to go into public health?
A. I was inspired to go into public health because I saw myself and my parents in my patients. I knew that I could do for my community what was not done for me. I grew up without access to dental care and know firsthand the consequences of that. I know what it is like to have tooth pain, to not chew on your molars for fear of the pain, and to lose teeth prematurely due to decay. I also know the importance and impact that knowledge can have on an individual’s oral health. I also know that I hold a great gift within me. I have the gift of knowledge and the ability to share that knowledge with others. I feel that I have been given this gift for a reason, and it is my responsibility to use it to care for my community. And if I am being honest, I am the happiest when I am serving people. I work in public health because it fulfills me.
QYou’ve written a children’s book. What do you hope it accomplishes?
ASmiles Por Vida is a not-for-profit book that tells the story of Mateo’s first dental visit. We wanted to create a book that better represented the Latin community. It is written in the language of Spanglish, as we want to normalize speaking Spanish and English in one sentence, as many Latins living in the United States do. Socially, we want our community to see themselves represented in dental children’s books. The purpose of our book is to provide basic dental education to Latin children and their families. Our story follows Mateo as he tells his abuelita (grandmother) about his dental experience and ends with him inviting her to the dentist, too.