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Zuri Taylor believes in giving back and does so through her practice, Fresh Breath Dental (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Dental hygienist Zuri Taylor at work (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

From an early age, Zuri Taylor understood the value of giving back.

She didn’t have much choice; her grandmother, Lois Gwendolyn Wilson, was in charge of community service at Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“That is just how I was raised,” the dental hygienist said. “I think whatever talent you have you should look at it and implement it back into society to help strengthen society and keep it stable.”

It’s what was on her mind when she set up her company, Fresh Breath Dental, in 2015.

Seniors on FutureCare aren’t charged a co-pay for certain services; people going through a job loss or similar trauma can get a full clean for $80.

Every November, the office offers tooth extractions for free – 40 were done last year.

“We bring in a dentist so it is not all on our own,” Ms Taylor said. “We help people to get rid of any type of infection they have in their mouth. Government needs to look at making dental care mandatory in Bermuda so that people can address their dental needs.”

Stress brought on by Covid-19 has led to a rise in demand for night guards to prevent cheek biting and tooth grinding.

Ms Taylor added: “People might be more reluctant to go to the dentist during the pandemic because they are counting their pennies, but people need to understand their health is important.”

Prior to 2015 she worked for the Health Department. Fresh Breath Dental offered the opportunity to design the community dental programmes she felt were necessary.

“It is hard to give back to the community when you are not in the driver’s seat,” she said.

She got interested in dentistry at age 21.

“I was basically a housewife,” she said. “A friend asked if I would fill in as a floater at a dentist’s office.”

She intended to work for Nigel Chudleigh for only a few weeks, “sterilising the instruments and filing”, but stayed for two years.

“He was the fairest person I have ever come across,” she said.

She never considered becoming a dentist herself. While in Pennsylvania taking the exams needed to become a dental assistant, she heard about a hygienist programme and decided to take it. Then in her late 20s, she was one of the older students.

“Most of the students were fresh out of high school. There was one lady who was 50. She had come out of construction.

“I worked extremely hard and graduated the top of my class. I loved everything that I learnt and I loved Harcum College. I thought it was an excellent school.”

She finds the lack of dental awareness upsetting.

“A good majority of the community has dental care, but they are not educated on how important dental care is,” she said. “A lot of people don’t go unless there is a problem.”

As a scholarship from the Bermuda Public Services Union helped her through dental hygiene school, she offered a discount to its members on opening her practice.

Ms Taylor’s hope is that other companies will also do what they can for the community.

“I know you can always go to the stock market, but investing back into the people – there is no greater reward. You also teach people to light a flame to help each other. If we all just help each other we could keep the currency here in Bermuda instead of it going overseas.”

When she was a child it was normal for people to build their homes with the help of friends rather than going to the bank for a loan.

“They came together through skill,” she said. “We need to look at that example. If we were all to work together and keep resources on the island, Bermuda could get through the pandemic and the struggles. We need to get back to our grass roots.”

Ms Taylor works with paediatric dentist Celia Musson-Nzabalinda, dentist Michael Lopez and hygienist Allett Duncan.

For more information about Fresh Breath Dental: www.fbdl.bm, 433-6825, info@fbdl.bm

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Published November 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm (Updated November 16, 2020 at 7:19 pm)

Dental practice with a focus on community

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