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A Tale of Two Hygienists Podcast

Jul 3, 2019

Our monthly student roundtable discussion episodes are dedicated to help you navigate the at-times turbulent waters from graduation to internship to full employment in the hygienist industry. For this installment, we’re speaking with three hygienists who’ve actually innovated and invented products used throughout the industry.

Lee Emmons has worked as a hygienist for 15 years, having migrated to the profession from aerospace engineering. He is the president and co-founder of Nu-Bird Design & Manufacturing, which released its patented suction mirror. Katie Melko has been a hygienist for the past decade. She works primarily in public health, instructs students at Goodwin College, and launched publishing house 12 Paws Publishing, through which she released her children’s book Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist. Debra Dencek has worked in every possible sector of dental hygiene from public, private, to corporate. She’s more recently the inventor of CordEze, a line of ergonomic dental products.

In this episode, Lee, Deb and Katie describe what moved them to invent, innovate and create, break down how they navigated the world of patents and publishing, and explain how dental hygiene innovators listening to this episode can get started making their ideas realities. 


- What led each of our guests to start their own companies and launch their products?

- How they refused to let failure dictate their path and kept on pushing forward.

- The first step a potential innovator or inventor in this industry should take.

- Some of the obstacles they encountered getting their products to market and how they dealt with these obstacles.

- Trade show etiquette: dos, don’ts, and PLEASE don’ts.

- What it’s like to go through the patent/trademark process and what kind of research you should do ahead of time.

- The guests’ final words of wisdom for those wanting to think outside the box and innovate within our profession.


“The fear of the unknown is what led to me creating a book.”

“You’re going to make mistakes, but just because you make a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean that you failed.”

“I don’t believe there are any failures, just lessons.”

“If you have the necessity the invention will follow. Your passion will drive you through into the business side of it.”

“If you have a great product, word of mouth is the best.”

“There are people looking for new, innovative products and people are out there to help you get your product out there and make people aware of it.”

“Use the outlets that are available to you for you to share your voice.”



Nu-Bird homepage -

Cordeze homepage -

Deb’s email:

12 Paws Publishing homepage -

Thank you to Paradise Dental Technologies aka PDT for providing sponsorship for this episode!

Be sure to thank the sponsor for this episode by heading over to and picking up a new instrument or telling them thank you in person at one of the conferences!

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