From Tradition to Transformation: Rebecka Clark’s Holistic Approach to Oral Care


Podcast Summary

In this compelling episode, Shawn Zajas interviews Rebecka Clark, a trailblazer in the field of oral-facial recovery. Rebecka’s journey is marked by an insatiable curiosity and an unwavering commitment to improving oral-facial care. Her story is a testament to the power of persistence and the willingness to embrace change. 

Rebecka’s unconventional path began with a background in dental hygiene and a fascination with oral health. However, her journey took a unique turn when she discovered the potential for massage therapy to address complex oral-facial issues. This realization led her to delve into the world of myofunctional therapy, a field that focuses on the rehabilitation and recovery of the oral-facial complex. 

As Rebecka’s expertise grew, so did her understanding of the profound impact that oral health can have on overall well-being. She emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to care, recognizing the interconnectedness of oral health with broader health concerns. Her dedication to this approach is evident in her practice, where she provides comprehensive pre- and post-operative care for patients undergoing jaw surgery due to sleep apnea. 

Rebecka’s work extends beyond sleep apnea, encompassing a wide range of oral-facial issues. She is particularly passionate about supporting patients who have undergone significant oral surgeries, including those with tongue reconstructions or other complex procedures. Her expertise in myofunctional therapy enables her to assist these individuals in regaining function and comfort in their daily lives. 

Throughout the interview, Rebecka’s enthusiasm for her work is palpable. She shares personal experiences, including her own mild case of sleep apnea, which fuels her dedication to raising awareness about this often-underestimated condition. Her candidness about her struggles with chronic fatigue serves as a powerful reminder of the profound impact that oral health can have on overall quality of life. 

Rebecka’s vision extends beyond her practice. She is passionate about education and advocacy, seeking to elevate the role of dental hygienists in oral-facial care. She envisions a future where dental hygienists play a pivotal role in the recovery and rehabilitation of the oral-facial complex, expanding their scope of practice to encompass a broader range of therapeutic techniques. 

In addition to her clinical work, Rebecka is eager to contribute to research and evidence-based studies in the field. She emphasizes the need for comprehensive studies to validate and refine the approaches she advocates. Rebecka envisions collaborations with research institutions and healthcare providers to further the understanding of oral-facial recovery. 

As the interview draws to a close, Shawn commends Rebecka for her inspiring mission. He highlights the courage it takes to step into uncharted territory and emphasizes the importance of embracing one’s unique strengths and passions. Rebecka’s story serves as a powerful reminder that dentistry is enriched when individuals like her bring their unique contributions to the field. 

In a heartfelt moment, Rebecka reflects on her 18-year-old self, offering words of encouragement to persevere in the pursuit of purpose. She urges her younger self—and by extension, listeners—to maintain a positive mindset and continue striving towards their goals, knowing that true fulfillment often comes with time and experience. 

Rebecka’s journey is a testament to the potential for transformation within dentistry and healthcare as a whole. Her story inspires practitioners to embrace change, pursue their passions, and contribute their unique strengths to the field. Rebecka Clark stands as a beacon of innovation and determination, leaving an indelible mark on the world of oral-facial recovery. 

Connect with Rebecka Clark: 
FB: @allimeden 
IG: @allimeden 
IG: @theunconventionalhygienist
YT: @theunconventionalhygienist

Podcast Transcript

Rebecka Clark  00:00 

But now and I’m the first to admit that that, you know, maybe I was wrong. And that’s okay. Because I had that very strict mindset that these are things you have to do in order to, you know, stay within the boundaries of a law. 


Shawn Zajas  00:14 

The future of dentistry belongs to the innovators. Welcome to innovation in dentistry. I’m your host, Shawn Zajas. And I believe that the future of dentistry is going to be unbelievably great over the next decade in two decades. But the question isn’t that the question is, are you going to be part of what makes dentistry great? Okay, so I could not be more excited today. To be with Rebecca Clark. Rebecca, before I set you up, let me just say, thank you so much for letting me interview you today. Absolutely. I’m excited to be here. Okay, so, Becca, I’m sorry, can I call you Becca? Did it just freeze? Yeah. So what did you What did you hear? Do you do you do bloopers? This would be perfect. But no, the problem with the bloopers is that this isn’t recorded. It doesn’t record an issue. So if if you’re watching it back, you won’t know why we pause. Okay, 


Rebecka Clark  01:31 

yeah, I heard everything. We’re so glad to be here. You’re here. And I was like, I’m glad to be here. 


Shawn Zajas  01:37 

Okay, cool. Okay. I’ll just jump in after that. Okay. Can I call you, 


Rebecka Clark  01:42 

Becca? That’s fine. Yep. All my friends comment, Becca. Okay. 


Shawn Zajas  01:46 

So, Becca, innovation in dentistry can mean so many different things, right. There’s technological innovation, there’s clinical innovation. And I believe what you’ve actually done is probably what more on the clinical side? 


Rebecka Clark  02:02 

I am very clinical. Absolutely. Yeah. 


Shawn Zajas  02:05 

But before you get either a technological innovation or clinical innovation, you get some crazy person that has a mindset or belief set that says, why not me? Why can’t I pioneer positive change, because they see a problem or they see value that they can bring. And that’s exactly what you’ve done. You are a registered dental hygienist. Yay, I love me. So my dentists, but you’re not just the hygienist, you decided to do more than that. Tell me a little bit about your story in dentistry. 


Rebecka Clark  02:38 

So, to go back, I always knew that I wanted to be in healthcare. But since I was 11 years old, and I tried all these things I was my my brain was just, you know, what do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Do I want to be in medicine? Do I want to be a nurse? Do I want to be a firefighter? As you’re going, I’m going through this process. Dentistry actually, was recommended to me. I was a medic in the Army. And I got out and started taking my prereqs for nursing school. And my mom, I was just having a really hard time. And my mom was actually the one who’s like, Hey, why aren’t you going to demonstrate? And I was like, Ill I don’t want to look in people’s mouths as disgusting. Why do I want to do that? So what I ended up doing, I was like, Okay, I’ll try it. And maybe it’s just different. And so I went to dental assisting school, and 2008. I graduated in 2009. And I was really good at what I did. But it wasn’t for me. And so then I decided to apply for hygiene school. And it took years to get into hygiene school and I had to take my prereqs and I failed classes and had to retake my classes. And I applied for hygiene schools, three to four years in a row and I never got in and when I was working in a periodontal office in downtown Seattle, really good girlfriend of mine who was a hygienist at the time. She’s like, why don’t you just reapply just try again at a new school just opened up right here in downtown Seattle, in Seattle at Pima Medical Institute. And it’s an accelerated hygiene program. And I said, Okay, fine, I’ll do it. So I did and I was on the wait list. And I was wait listed. And it was the day before classes started, I found out that I got in and had already quit my job. And I was a single mom. And I was laying on the couch in the back and I found out I got in. And so yeah, that’s a whole completely different. It’s been a whirlwind. And then I saw I went to hygiene school in 2013. I graduated in 2015. And then that’s how I started in hygiene. 


Shawn Zajas  04:46 

So you’re a medic? From the Army? 


Rebecka Clark  04:49 

Yes. And before that I did four years in the Navy as a diesel mechanic because of lead deck Troubleshooter. Yeah, yeah. 


Shawn Zajas  04:59 

So I mean, that’s normally like a prerequisite for hygiene. Is that something in the Navy? 


Rebecka Clark  05:06 

Yeah, I just I see problems and I, ever since I was a little kid, I, my parents would get so mad, I’d be in my room at six, seven years old tearing apart my radios, figuring out why they how they worked. But I couldn’t put them back together. That Okay, so it works. It doesn’t work anymore. 


Shawn Zajas  05:27 

So, why why hygiene, you know, like, so you know, you you mess around a little bit in this Navy, and then all of a sudden, again, Medic. So one is non bio biological, right? non clinical, and then the medic one is very, you know, like, biological and clinical. But you didn’t want to just be a nurse or a doctor, you know? 


Rebecka Clark  05:52 

No, so why hygiene, my mom recommended by going to denistry I tried at Dental Assisting wasn’t for me when to hygiene school because I was a single mom. And honestly, the the revenue was there, and the military would have paid for it. And so I went into hygiene, so I can pay my bills so I can have a better life for my daughter. There wasn’t any specific reason why. But I even going into hygiene school, I knew that wasn’t my end, I knew that that was my stepping stone. Do I love hygiene? I love my patients I love taking care of people was is hygiene, dental hygiene, my purpose? No, once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. But my mind was so much bigger than than what I was doing. And it was it’s very repetitive. And even my, my girlfriend was like hygiene is really repetitive. And she knew that that’s not who I was. But I’m glad that I did it because it has brought me to where I am today. And this is what I should be doing. And this is my purpose. Hygiene was never my purpose. It was just always my stepping stone. 


Shawn Zajas  07:07 

Okay, so we’re about to get into what this purpose is. But before that, I’m not a guy that wears hats. That’s just typically not what I do. But I’m just setting myself up. If I was wearing one right now, I would take it off because being a single mom, I think is probably one of the hardest things in the world, being a mom in general is a hard thing. So I just wanna take a moment and honor you because, man, it just takes resilience. It’s, um, it’s a beautiful thing. And it’s also a challenging thing. So like, Thank you for just being an awesome mom and giving your child everything. And even just being willing to go into hygiene as a single parent like that’s, that’s crazy.  


Rebecka Clark  07:54 

It was brutal. It was an accelerated program. So we did two years of we did two years of dental hygiene school, the curriculum, that’s usually four years, we did it in two. So it was Go, go, go, go go my seven, my first semester was seven classes, and then six classes. And then we just, it was by the time it was done. So it was done. But I’m better. I’m a definitely a better person for it. And in hygiene school, I’ve met my husband. And yeah, the rest is history. 


Shawn Zajas  08:24 

Okay, so Becca, here we are, you are a hygienist. And you know, this isn’t everything. But it’s at least allows you to get a foundation for whatever is going to be next in life. So you’re doing hygiene, what happens that all of a sudden allows you to start seeing, ooh, this could be the next thing for me. Take us to that part of the story. 


Rebecka Clark  08:50 

So when I’m working hygiene, and we lived out in a little town, Oak Harbor, up here in Washington state, it was a military town. And I was working with other dentists and I always find these research studies. It’s like there’s gotta be more to hygiene than what I was doing. And there’s more to dentistry than what I was doing. And I got bored really fast. And I loved the patient care, but I was just I was burnt out. And so I’d give always give these studies to these dentists, hey, let’s do this. Let’s do laser. Let’s do the peri skovby With all of these things, and it was just it doesn’t go anywhere. So I ended up going out to another office that was off the island. And it was asleep dental office and I learned a lot there and I started learning a lot about you know, people with sleep apnea, why we have sleep apnea. Looking at the causation and so my wheels started turning Okay, well, maybe, maybe this is for me. Maybe this is my purpose. And so the deeper that I got into Sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome, the under development of the jaws, lingual, tongue ties, it’s restricted for numbs, I took a deeper dive into orofacial myofunctional therapy. And it was in there that I was like, oh, okay, so, medicine in general, in my opinion, Western medicine, we really focus, we don’t look at the causes. Why? Why are we here in the first place? Where are the diagnosing babies, newborn babies with sleep apnea. And so I took a deeper dive in orofacial myofunctional therapy in 2017. And I learned this whole process on how it works and why we are the way we are and these adults with TMJ and why we have these problems, I always asked why. And so that’s where I picked up orofacial myofunctional therapy and working with a dentist and I learned so much about airway. And that kind of put me into a different mindset and treating my patients completely differently. And, and holistically from from a different point of view. 


Shawn Zajas  11:12 

So you love learning. I love that you identified that you’re like, Hey, I just got bored. Like, I can’t just keep doing the same repetition. And the practice you’re with was like, we don’t really, I don’t know, appreciate your curiosity, and you found another place that allowed you to be you and look at journals and studies and start really connecting dots. That’s amazing. Now you started your own company. Since then, what was that period like more you realized? This isn’t something I just want to do as a hygienist in a practice. But I think there’s actually something on my own, independent of the practice, because I’m guessing right, there’s no affiliation between the practice you work at and your company right 


Rebecka Clark  12:04 

now. So I actually had my last clinical hygiene day, last week. So when I first started in the myofunctional, therapy, journey, orofacial myofunctional therapy, they’re all intertwined together. I was working with children and teens and growth, guidance and airway development. And I did a hybrid. I was working, I didn’t do it in the dental office. My biggest thing is that I always felt like I was I was hitting a wall. And I there was no growth. And it didn’t matter how many studies I was throwing out. It wasn’t my business. It wasn’t my it wasn’t my for me to to grow, to expand to do what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it. And I loved the doctors, all the doctors that I work for, but I wanted more creative control. And so I initially did hybrid I would go into people’s homes and go online. And I launched my original business was I don’t remember the name of it no advanced Mio, I think it was advanced Mio. I launched that original business in 2017. And then in 2019, I myself because I saw the problems of airway and growth guidance and things like that, and myself as an adult in my 30s. And so I we ended up moving from Oak Harbor, I went put myself back into braces, I had, you know, eight teeth removed. I put myself in myofunctional therapy, and then going into ortho, the orthodontist wouldn’t put me into braces because I needed to have jaw surgery. And I was like, Oh, I didn’t realize that I had all these, these things going on. So we ended up moving from Oak Harbor down inherently Marysville around our north of Seattle now and I closed on my business because I can’t do the move plus jaw surgery and maintain a hybrid business or even do it online. Where am I going? What am I doing? What is going on because I got into myofunctional therapy. And while I enjoyed it, it was again repetitive. I was bored. And so I was like where am I going? What is my purpose? This is not my purpose. Dental Hygiene. I started that that’s not my purpose. myofunctional therapy. Okay, that’s not my purpose. Where am I supposed to be? So after I had jaw surgery in 2019 I started to think well, why was swollen for a long time? Well, who can I go see to help me with lymphatic drainage to help with my swelling to help I couldn’t even do the exercises that I used to be able to do. And so I was thinking and it’s like okay, what’s going on? And then I started questioning. Well, why is it that we send people the pre and post surgical pre surgical to a physical therapist for exercise therapy for Everything, even heart surgery, you have to make sure that your heart healthy enough. You know, if you’re having a knee replacement or a knee surgery, you have to go to physical therapy first. But why aren’t we doing this for the face? So did it on myself. But then who else are we missing? I knew about myofunctional therapy, I put myself through it. But what about the people who don’t know about it? Because I can’t do the exercises that I used to be able to do. But what about people who can’t do these exercises at all? And so I went back to school for massage therapy. And that’s a whole process in itself. My husband, I was thinking about, you know, I just I want to go do tongue tie releases, I want to, you know, be a dentist, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an osteopath. I want to be a physical therapist, and we were brainstorming all of these things. Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know my purpose. And I was trying to find it. And my husband said, and I love my husband, and he grounds me and he’s a reason why we’re not poor. He said, If you can pay for it out of pocket, because we had just paid off. We had just paid off all my student loans, we paid off all the bills, and you can pay for out of pocket, then you can go to school, because we’re getting ready to uproot the entire family to go to dental school in Texas. And, and he was like, nope, if if if you if we can’t, you can’t afford it. You can you can, you can pay for it out of pocket, you can go and so I was like, okay, so I was talking to my chiropractic friends, my physical therapy friends, just got a massage therapy school. Okay, so going to massage therapy school. And I was like, This is what I’m going to do. And I went to massage therapy school because I wanted to expand upon the education that I had as a myofunctional therapist and as a dental hygienist. But I wanted to treat people on my own without being in a dental office. So I had creative control. And so I did that. And I launched my practice last year in May. And I had no idea, no idea that I would be where I’m at today, I had one very focused area. And I’m not even doing that anymore. Because the people started to find me. And the people that started to find me, were in a similar if not a worse situation than I was in after jaw surgery. 


Shawn Zajas  17:17 

Okay, sorry, you just left me. So that’s so much there. I mean, I was like, aside from the fact that you’re saying that you get bored easy. There was something else that you were you kept saying and I picked up on and then I don’t know why it’s like not there now. But I love how TUNED IN YOU ARE to to you, like you this whole time. It almost reminded me as weird as it sounds of. I think it’s the Dick Eastman book. Are you my mother? Like? I don’t know. Have you ever had that? Yes. It’s like the kids book. And the boy, are you my mother? Are you my mother? It was more of like the whole? Like, is this my purpose? Is this my purpose? This is this like you’re in pursuit? Knowing I need to find my my purpose in life, I need to find my purpose. Oh, no. Also the fact that you you ask why I love that. What Why does this work? Or why why is it that? So I just sensed this is such a such a curiosity, such a searching in you. Which I can tell us why you’ve taken this unorthodox path. And I think that’s a great way to say it’s so non conventional. And I think what you’ve discovered is that why is it that all these different pieces are disjoint. My mother in law is a speech pathologist. And she’ll talk about certain airway issues. And then there’s the you know, strictly medical side that has some some insight about airway. And then there’s the dental side without talking about airway. And the more I learned about sleep apnea, the more I learned, then this is like a silent killer, like this is a big deal. And just last night, I slept with like a nasal strip. And something else because I took a sleep test two years ago and discovered I have a mild case of sleep apnea. And Becca, I am chronically tired. Like, all the time, you can’t tell when I’m doing an interview. Because I’m just excited, especially when I’m talking to someone as like, interesting as you Becca, but I have five kids and there’s just times in the day when I feel like I could just fall asleep. Like all the time just driving like a road trip. When it’s not stimulating. I can’t move. Morning I’ll fall asleep midday like anytime a day. If I’m doing a road trip. I’m like exhausted and tired and almost fall asleep. So this is a big deal. Like I don’t have any of the the facial reconstruction or the the jaw, stuff like that. That sounds intense. But when it comes to airway, I care about this a lot. Up to now like I don’t even know what to do. I love that people have been finding you. So what what have you been doing? What’s the transformation that you’re able to be providing for for people. 


Rebecka Clark  20:11 

So what I do in my practice, so if somebody has to go through jaw surgery because they have sleep apnea, we’re moving your jaws forward. So there’s a myofunctional therapy component before that, and pre habituation getting the muscles in the proper position before we go through surgery. So after surgery, we’re going into muscle memory. So we go through myofunctional therapy, and then directly post surgical. And the doctor, any physical therapist, that patient that just had surgery is right back into that physical therapist or that massage therapist to do lymphatic drainage. We need the the fluids and the lymph buildup, which helps us heal or white blood cells. We swell and so we can’t move if we’re swollen. So, so immediately post surgery surgery in we’re doing lymphatic drainage on the face and intra oral Oral Facial complex. And then we wait for the healing process. With the lymphatic drainage, we’re also reducing post surgical neuropathy or reducing scar tissue. We are helping with the healing process not only just with swelling, but we’re getting them to move again. And then we wait for that healing process to do any heavy lifting like intro oral massage, we help with trismus trismus as big lockjaw. So we help with that process. And then six to eight weeks, we start getting the heavy duty again, let’s do a lot more exercises, muscle strengthening breaking back into muscle memory where we were before and then going from there. And that’s just for sleep apnea or jaw surgery. The when I launched the practice, I started having patients come in who have had oral cancer, so part of their tongue removed. And they’ve gone to see their speech and language pathologist. And they felt that the speech language pathology was ineffective while because their tongue is physically restricted to the floor of their mouth not be a tongue tie, maybe a scar tissue. People have their tongue replaced with other muscles of their body, or they just have parts of their tongue removed or even a third of their entire tongue removed. So they come and see me it’s been years because I mean, we’re a new practice and we’re just trying to develop our protocols and finding out what works and what doesn’t. But I’m going underneath the tongue, I’m lifting it up with scar tissue, scar tissue softening, doing the lymphatic drainage, if if they’ve had limp damaged lymph nodes, Lymphedema Therapy for the intro oral Oral Facial complex, so they can at least not have to use a spoon at the roof of their mouth anymore. So they can actually use their tongue. And then when when we get done releasing that scar tissue and getting them through and getting their tissues in their muscles and they can smile again and things are a little bit more even than the work setting the back to their speech and language pathologist or even having we’re getting ready to have a speech language pathologists come on board. So that’s a big part but then there’s Oral Facial, there’s visual reconstructive surgeries, people who got in an accident. People who have had a stroke, people who have had Bell’s palsy trigeminal neuralgia, there’s a huge population that that we’re missing when it comes to orofacial myofunctional therapy. myofunctional therapy is originally designed for growth, guidance and airway, but there’s a huge rehabilitative component that we’re missing. And that’s what I do. 


Shawn Zajas  23:35 

So are you doing this as a physical therapist? 


Rebecka Clark  23:39 

No, I’m a massage therapist. So So physical therapy, I love my physical therapists. I can’t there’s a couple things that I can’t do. I can’t diagnose. I can’t use the 10s units. I can’t do a joint manipulation, but I can do massage therapy, lymphatic drainage, Lymphedema Therapy, I get referrals from physical therapists because nobody physical therapists aren’t even trained to look at the tongue. They do some tongue exercise therapy when it comes to the TMJ. But everything forward of the TMJ is in my experience and my knowledge is completely ignored. 


Shawn Zajas  24:19 

So you’re not doing any sort of hygiene in this practice. 


Rebecka Clark  24:23 

No, in my in my practice itself. No, I’m not doing any hygiene. It’s my hygiene background and my TMJ knowledge. We are. I am working with a couple of hygienists here. I am a treasurer of the ADHP which is the alliance of dental hygiene practitioners and they go in home, they go into convalescent and palliative care centers. So my goal is to be able to use more of my hygiene, licensure and use my hygiene and my massage therapy, licensure to go in homes with help with soft tissue management, red light therapy photobiomodulation helping people through through that process of the of chemotherapy, doing lymphatic drainage, so they have a better support system when when they when they go through surgery. 


Shawn Zajas  25:09 

Okay, so Becca, I don’t know. Let’s see, let’s see if we can. 


Rebecka Clark  25:13 

It’s a lot. I know it’s a lot. 


Shawn Zajas  25:15 

Well, so I just want to have a little bit of fun here. So what happens? When is Becca going to get bored of this? 


Rebecka Clark  25:22 

Um, no, because it’s always ever changing. And there’s so many different components. However, I am going back to school because I love learning. I am going back to school next year, I’m going to go to squat to be a master esthetician. And because I can specialize in oncology aesthetics, and so what I’m doing is I’m branching, I’m branching wide. So I’ve got my oncology and my dental hygiene. I’ve got my oncology, my massage therapy, and then I’m going to have my my oncology and in esthetics, so people who have had scar tissue for facial reconstructive, they’re disfigured hire on an esthetician to do permanent makeup, and skincare. When it comes to that. Am I gonna get bored? No, because it’s my own. And I have complete creative control. And I love it. I do. But that’s a good question. And my husband asks me that all the time. 


Shawn Zajas  26:21 

But But even this, so it’s not so much about is it going to look like this, like you said, you have the freedom and creative control and autonomy to just go where your interest takes you. Absolutely. So it’s less about, is it going to look like this in 10 years? Probably not. Because the pace at which you move the pace at which you, you learn you connect the dots, you position yourself in marketplace. It is so fast, Becca, like, I am in awe. So, okay, during any of these transitions, or any of these moves, what is your mindset in the midst of this? Are you like, Okay, what if it doesn’t work? Or what if this is the wrong move for me? Or oh, wow, it’s scary. I’m starting my  


Rebecka Clark  27:10 

Oh it scares me all the time. I have self doubt all the time. Is this really gonna work? Is this really happening? It? What if this doesn’t work? What else is gonna work? My right now my thought process to other people is theory. I’m working with the National Network of healthcare hygienists. We’re trying to get on board to do a pilot study here in Washington State. So I can start going into the hospitals and start getting on paper. This is what works. This is what happens. Oh, there’s self doubt all the time. Every day, I think, is this really gonna work? What am I doing? Is this gonna work? The last thing that I want to do I have really, I get really bad impostor syndrome. And I think it’s because I’m such a perfectionist. That there’s Oh, yeah, absolutely. All the time, self doubt. But just keep going. Because something’s something at some point in time. If you keep hammering the wall, the wall is gonna fall. I’m just, I’m just waiting for. I know, it works. I know, it works. The studies have shown that it works. But every day I have a lot, I have self doubt. But I just keep going. Because I know that something’s got to give up. 


Shawn Zajas  28:22 

So over the last decade, what would be one mindset that you feel like you have either learned or mindset you had to shed? In order for you to be where you’re at today? 


Rebecka Clark  28:38 

That’s a big question. What my mindset, I don’t, I’m trying to lower my expectations on what how things are going to, or the way that things are going to be. My mindset is, this, this has to work, this is going to work. And this is the way that it is I guess that would be the shift is that this is the way that it is this is the way that it has to be because this is what’s in my mind. And this, you know, that’s got to work. But I’ve kind of relaxed that a little bit over the now that I’m in my 40s kind of know, 


Shawn Zajas  29:22 

you’re so youthful, all the energy that you release, like sometimes I’m like, Man, she like 27 


Rebecka Clark  29:31 

I, I’ve relaxed that to the point where it’s like, you know, it’s not black and white. There’s a lot of gray. And when I first started this process, and there were other hygenist learning, Intro oral techniques and things like that, and my mindset was like, you have to go to massage therapy school. You can’t do that. Yet. It’s not in your scope of practice. But now and I’m the first to admit that that, you know, maybe I was wrong. And that’s a Okay, because I had that very strict mindset that these are things you have to do in order to, you know, stay within the bounds of the law. And I know I’m kind of all over the place right now, but, but now it’s, I’m learning, neuromuscular dentistry and airway and is TMJ medicine, or is it Dental? Is it both? It’s controversial. It’s who’s who’s really doing the airway, who’s doing what, and I’m finding that hygenist are in a perfect position to be able to ride, not massage therapy. But in order to be able to provide neuromuscular re education, manual manipulation techniques, ensure orally in the mouth expecially. If it’s just for your patients who can’t open up very wide in the dental chair, and why aren’t we doing it? Why don’t we have that more defined into our scope of practice? We’re the only providers in the world dentistry is that can go in into oral that’s already tied into our scope of practice. Physical Therapists, it’s not massage therapists. It’s not we have to go get endorsements and prescriptions in order to have this done in other states. And there’s only seven states in the world in the United States that allow the massage therapists to go into oral because you’re going into the body cavity. So dentistry, not just hygienist but dentistry is in a perfect position to have their own Oral Facial recovery department. Why aren’t we doing this? Why aren’t we expanding the scope of practice of dentist and dental hygienists to do palliative and rehabilitative care for the Oral Facial complex? You’ve got dentists now that are doing PRF for the face their bows, Botox, it’s all cosmetic. And so why why are these people coming back into these dental clinics and having their hygienist to walk them through this process where the hygienist is going in homes and helping them through this process? The word a perfect position to do into oral manipulation, nurses do lymphatic drainage. That’s the goal of the national network of healthcare hygienist is that we are the nurses of dentistry. That’s what we have, we have the same prerequisites to get into hygiene school as it is in nursing school. The only difference is is we focus here so why aren’t we doing more? There aren’t enough hygienist. Sorry, massage therapists, physical therapists, doing Lymphatic Drainage here are even looking at the the muscles of the face for rehabilitation. And so dentistry is in a prime position to be able to launch these things. And that’s now my goal on my part. 


Shawn Zajas  32:36 

So So Becca, you’re the practitioner that’s pioneering. But you’re also now becoming an educator, right? Like, aren’t you also sharing this message from the stage? Hopefully letting people know why. Everything you just said like this is a message that needs to get out? 


Rebecka Clark  32:52 

Absolutely, absolutely. So I’ve started working with the dental speaker Institute and Vanessa Emerson, she’s phenomenal to kind of height to tune in what it is that I’m trying to do. And, and honestly, when I first started, this is like, This is mine. I don’t want anybody else to take this. But then in a scarcity mindset, and that’s a whole completely different story. But a scarcity mindset, this is mine, I’m developing this. And then the more I got into his like, you know, more people need help, and I can’t do this on my own. And so that was very humbling, very humbling. I’ve grown a lot to to admit that. But now to think in an abundance mindset. And to share this with more people, because I can’t I can’t do it on my own. And there’s not an I can’t do everything. So yeah, so speaking, I do certainly pick up a lot of speaking things like about what it is that I do the need for, for these, this care. I’m on a bunch of head and neck cancer groups on Facebook, and I just read what these patients are going through is like, well, you could try this, you could try this. There’s so many different avenues that were missing in this piece of health care. I just launched the Institute of Oral Facial recovery, to help train hygienists to be able to launch this in dental practices, teach other massage therapists that they can know their practice and just specialize in this and also working as a collaborative team hiring on a dental hygienist myofunctional therapist who’s in private practice to hire on a massage therapist or physical therapist to hire honest speech and language pathologist hire on an esthetician have your your team come together and and see what we can do collectively to help these patients go through this process, if anything just to be a big support support these patients through this through this process. 


Shawn Zajas  34:48 

So it sounds like you’re also a consultant that can help train practices.  


Rebecka Clark  34:53 

Yes. So I because I’m still in the developmental part of I’m still we’re always going to be in developmental part. You Yes, so I want to be able to go into dental offices and train and train up the hygienist who are also myofunctional therapists to do what it is that I do within their scope of practice. They can’t do everything but there because it’s so is a very gray area. But yes, trained hygienist dentists to do what I do consult with them how to elevate their practice a little bit deeper to go deeper into dentistry into oral facial rehabilitation. Got the school, the platform, is just getting the information out there the best the best possible way that I could. 


Shawn Zajas  35:38 

So Becca, the reason I started this podcast, is because I want listeners in dentistry, that are hearing between the lines of what we’re saying. And they’re thinking about their dream, or their passion, or the problem that they keep seeing that no one else is addressing. And I want stories like yours, to be able to inspire them to get up and just step out to step up. Because when you did that, you had no idea, just as you were in motion, that at some point, you would end up where you’re at today, you couldn’t afford casted that you couldn’t have predicted it you couldn’t strategically try to, you know, get here out of out of some blueprint. It’s just through seeking through being in the game and being open to go where you’re feeling LED. And in your case, it’s with that that passion that that intrigue, that curiosity, and I’m so thankful that you did and that you have been because I’m sure along the way, there’s been obstacles, and there’s been challenges. And like you said, darn, that imposter syndrome, right? Yeah, you belong. You belong on stages, your message is meant to go and spread. Like I even feel like there’s a book in you about all this. And maybe maybe it’s in five or 10 years, right? Maybe it’s a reflective book, looking at the journey. So maybe it’s not yet. But it’s like, I’m so thankful that you’ve continued to just honor that struggle and overcome because dentistry is better because of it. And that’s my whole contention and belief. With everyone in dentistry, like dentistry is going to be great, but I want everyone to step up into the role that only they can and no one else can be Becca Clark.  


Rebecka Clark  37:42 

I don’t want to, it would be exhausting.  I do it as a question, how do you have the energy and I was like, you know, it’s, I see it in my patients. I see it in my patients. I see it in other hygienists who are interested in doing what even questioning what it is that I do. And that keeps me going. It’s changing the mindset, changing and humbling me and, and just trying to make a difference. Before I love, 


Shawn Zajas  38:06 

I love the humility of in order for me to make the impact I’m going to make that I need to make. I can’t do it alone. No. And I absolutely love that humility and and that’s what I love about you sharing on stages and on podcasts like this, because you don’t know who’s listening that could be like, Oh my gosh, this is this is probably what, you know, I have a piece of this puzzle, and a contribution. And now all of a sudden, the message and the movement that you’re starting, can continue to even move forward with greater with greater impact. I’m so curious, like if the next five years of your life was a chapter in a book, what would that chapter be called? 


Rebecka Clark  38:54 

That’s a good question. In the next five years of my life My goal is to build build, expand, educate. What would that be called? There’s an easier way to do this. 


Shawn Zajas  39:17 

But is there really like you have to you have to go through there not knowing you have to go through the struggle, you have to go through the falling down. Because that’s where you you develop? Like all the real lessons you’ve learned in life have come because you’ve been in the game trying. You’ve been endeavoring towards some pursuit of something greater than yourself. And that’s where the real learning takes place. It’s messy. Yeah, but it’s absolutely necessary. 


Rebecka Clark  39:48 

Maybe Maybe I knew I liked that. I liked that. Maybe my, the chapter of my book would be called It’s Messy. That’s actually really good. 


Shawn Zajas  39:59 

Oh, There you go see, we need each other, we need each other. So if I’m listening right now, and I’m like, Okay, I want to find out more information, I want to be part of what she’s doing, or I want to hire her to speak. Or I want to find out where I can go because I want her to be the practitioner that helps me out. Where do you want people’s eyeballs to go right now. 


Rebecka Clark  40:24 

So they can go on to the I have just launched the website, it’s orofacial recovery, www dot orofacial That’s my institute of Oral Facial recovery website, they can also go into my own business, it’s Alamuddin. So it’s, it’s allied medical, dental, connecting allied medical dental providers And they can go that way. So I’m having my speaker packet on both websites, but the majority of the things that I put out, just to not confuse my patients, will be that the Institute of Oral Facial recovery. 


Shawn Zajas  41:09 

You know, I’m just feeling like, given now, what if you could wave your magic wand and get that support? Or help that would help take what you’re doing to the next level? What does that look like? Because who knows? who’s listening? I’m just saying, is that like a? Is that a virtual assistant? Is that another person? That’s also hygenist? That’s, I don’t know, just another practitioner, like what would help take what you’re doing to the next level? 


Rebecka Clark  41:36 

You know, honestly, because it’s so new. Right now, it wouldn’t, yes, I mean, an SLP, I’d love to have an SLP on board, I don’t have the space for it, we will be moving out of downtown Seattle on 25. A little bit further north. So it’s easier for patients to get to. The goal is to hire on a speech and language pathologist and a couple of other providers. But what would take it to the next level, honestly, because there’s not a lot of education and case studies, I would love to be able to do research and connect with somebody to get into Fred Hutch right here in Seattle, or guarantee you a job and do a pilot study and work with these patients. Getting the studies out there getting the information out there, this is what works red light therapy photobiomodulation works with oral mucositis. And this is how hygienist bringing on another hygienist for sure to help with this with the the the tissue management, bring on more my massage therapist and just we’re so new, so I’m just building the need. And I know the need is there. But getting the information out there. So I’m in an information blasting stage right now, this is what needs to be done. But there needs to be studies because we’d like to evidence based research and education. So if anything, could launch anything, it would just be getting the word out there getting let me get into these pilot studies. Let’s start you know, looking at this at a little bit of a deeper level. And so people have providers, all providers have a better understanding of what of the change that we’re trying to make and what we’re trying to do to help a greater population. 


Shawn Zajas  43:17 

I just love your mission. Like really, it is so inspiring. Okay, so so here it is, Becca. You said, No, I’m not gonna mention your age because you said something about it. But in case I get it wrong, it’s just not good. So Becca up today is walking down the street and in the future or sorry, in front of you, you see 18 year old Becca. And you know, you just have one moment to communicate a sentiment to her. What do you share with her? 


Rebecka Clark  43:51 

You make me cry. At 18 I was on the ILS in the middle of the ocean on an nuclear aircraft carrier. Um If I saw myself 18 year old Becca walking down the street I would I try not to get emotional. 


Shawn Zajas  44:12 

You can get emotional you have freedom to be you. We like you. 


Rebecka Clark  44:17 

I would tell her not to give up that there it gets better. There’s a don’t don’t give up on what it is that you think that that you’re supposed to be doing with your life. Just Just keep going, keep that drive keep the ambition to to not change things but make things better. Just you know just keep going have a have a positive mindset and know that that you know, we only really truly make it in our 40s Nobody takes you seriously until then, anyway? Maybe 35. 


Shawn Zajas  45:04 

Hang on for 22 years. No, I mean, I guess it’s it’s learn as much as you can go as fast as you can during that time. And I love that you said like, don’t give up on. Like being you whatever that was, because that’s the through line. Did I see Becca when I listened to you? It’s that you were constantly in pursuit and in search of what is my purpose? Like, what is that higher purpose that that I was here for that makes me come alive. That gives me energy. That gets me out of bed in the morning. And some of our listeners right now are in a vocation, where they know if they look in the mirror, and look at themselves in the eyes, like, they’re not doing what they love. They’re not doing their their purpose. And it’s scary. It takes courage to acknowledge that. And then it takes even greater courage just to take the step. And that’s the thing. You don’t need to know where it’s going to take you. And that’s what I love about your story. You couldn’t predict it. But you need to have the courage to take the first step. And I’m so thankful that you didn’t just take the first step back up, but you continued to go and you continued to persevere. Because, wow, what you are doing is so important. It has been so easy to honor you as an innovator. Thank you just for that the struggle that you kept going. Um, I again, I love what you’re doing. I am in your corner if you need anything. Thank you. Anyway, I can help get your message out there. Please let me know. Becca, thank you for letting me interview you.  


Rebecka Clark  46:43 

Thank you for having me. It was it was great. I’m very thankful and very blessed that that you had me on your platform today to help spread the need for what it is that I’m trying to. I’m trying to do. 


Shawn Zajas  46:55 

Well thank you. Thanks for listening, and be sure to follow so you never miss an episode. To learn more about what’s going on in dentistry. Check out innovation in 

More Podcasts