Portia Weiman was a patient at Alameda Pediatric Dentistry back when it had just three patient chairs. As fate would have it, the five-year-old who skipped happily to her cleanings went on to enjoy a 27-year (and growing) career with the practice, first as dental assistant, then as a dental hygienist. Portia’s strong expertise and invested dedication embody the values of a small-town practice and what makes Alameda Pediatric Dentistry stand out among the rest.
“I am very proud to have watched this practice grow!” Portia says. “The thing that’s maintained in this office and should never change is the care provided on a personal level. The feeling I got when I was kid was of more than just a dental visit but the care, nurturing, trust, and feeling of being part of a family. I think this brings parents and their kids back to us. I’ve always striven to do this for my patients, as well, and give the best I have of myself.”
As a little girl, Portia had her share of cavities, but was never afraid to go to her dental appointments. Even back then, the dentistry was equipped with toys, games, and the wooden playhouse that still stands today.
“The office was kid-friendly. The décor was a sea theme with ships, driftwoods, aquariums, a horse saddle in the X-ray room that we hopped on when getting X-rays. There was a huge brass bell in the waiting room that my mom had to ring when we arrived. Most parents who were patients and currently bring their children here also remember the saddle and playhouse.”
Portia’s memories of going to the dentist reflect the little details that children cherish, from the huge plastic frog with a mouthful of toys she would choose from to the pencils she received with the dentistry logo. When another of her classmates brought the same pencil to school, it was fun to learn that they both went to the same dentist.
“I remember the fluoride tray we had to hold inside our mouths for four minutes, and a bucket we let our saliva drip over. The assistant most of the time forgot about us and our four minutes would overlap. My siblings and I, when we talk about our childhood, would always laugh about this.
“The magic air (nitrous oxide) I never thought did anything to me, but that it just smelled like sweet flowers. The many flavors of prophy paste (to polish teeth) they provided to choose from reminded me of ordering ice cream from an ice cream shop.
Staff did not go unnoticed by young Portia; in fact, the personal attention she received from her two favorite assistants, Gail and Lourdes, influenced her to pursue a dental career when she got older.
“I remember the assistants being super-friendly, motherly, and caring. There was never a time they forgot my name. It was like visiting family. Gail and Lourdes were interested in my school, friends, etc. They would ask me questions all the time.”
After high school, Portia looked through the necessary classes and schooling that she needed to start her career as a dental assistant. During dental assisting school, she was invited to do an internship with her childhood pediatric dental office.
“I was thrilled and excited! Having been a patient myself I felt comfortable and knew exactly how the office ran.”
Portia eventually got a job and became an RDAEF (registered dental assistant, expanded function), a role she continued with Alameda Pediatric Dentistry for 18 years.
Being a single mom, however, Portia knew that moving up to a dental hygiene career would be a great advantage for her family.
“Dr. Perry was a huge mentor in helping me guide and fund my education. He always made sure we set goals for ourselves and reminded us that education is important. Yes, he was a pretty awesome boss! The greatest reward was finally reaching the goal I had set for myself and showing my daughter that with hard work, compromise, and determination, all things are possible. I really felt a huge accomplishment when I passed my National and State boards and received my license as a Registered Dental Hygienist, EF!”
“The office is home, a place I am familiar and comfortable with. I feel blessed that my future career path was established at a young age, just through the positive experience I had here. When parents thank me for helping their children and appreciate the care I provide, it makes me feel really good inside! I feel proud that I have a job that keeps children healthy and have already influenced some of my patients to look into the career of dentistry! It’s a cycle that we can continue here!”
What are your earliest memories at the dentist? Share your stories with us by commenting below!