Interview: Victoria Wilson discusses her Smile Revolution podcast
As a dental therapist and trained yoga teacher, Victoria Wilson certainly understands the holistic nature of oral health and overall well-being. In 2019, she launched the Smile Revolution podcast, where she has talked to a range of dental professionals about their career ups and downs. Wilson spoke to Dental Tribune International (DTI) about how Smile Revolution is fulfilling its mission of promoting oral health and how the podcast has been received so far.
Ms Wilson, thank you for taking the time to talk to DTI. Could you tell our readers a little bit about how Smile Revolution came about?
Well, I first did a degree in oral health promotion, which led me to become very interested in the topic—so much so that it really leads my career now. I was then invited to attend a global conference on social responsibility for dental hygienists and DCPs [dental care professionals], which led to further training and exploring further opportunities to support overcoming the most prevalent preventable dental disease, dental caries.
I wanted to explore what we could be doing in the dental profession to overcome the inequalities that exist in this regard. While our clinical workload is limited to those whom we are able to access, there are other channels through which we can reach more people and have an impact on their oral health. With this in mind, I began to formulate an oral health promotional entity, which eventually became Smile Revolution.
What was it that prompted you to launch the Smile Revolution podcast?
One of my main goals with Smile Revolution is to support the profession of dentistry by sharing dental professionals’ stories about what they’ve learned throughout their careers. By spreading these stories through the Smile Revolution podcast, others can listen from anywhere in the world and be inspired. For me, many people are inspirational, but it can sometimes be hard to gain that insight into them until you have a one-on-one conversation and are free to ask them questions you might normally be a bit reluctant about approaching.
The Smile Revolution podcast is essentially a passion project to support my dental colleagues around the world, to help them advance their thinking by listening to the journeys of others.
In your eyes, who is the target audience of the podcast?
I’d say that the target audience is DCPs, dental therapists and dental hygienists, as these are generally the greatest proportion of listeners. However, I do know that dental nurses and dental specialists also like to listen.
Have these conversations changed anything about how you approach dentistry or helped to guide your own career choices?
Oh, absolutely. In dentistry, you need to be constantly re-evaluating and reshaping your pathways based on what you’ve learned and opportunities that you may encounter, and so the podcast has definitely helped me to do this. I get a lot out of speaking to my guests, and I know that others do too—I get messages from people telling me what they’ve gained from listening to it, and this means so much to me.
“I get a lot out of speaking to my guests, and I know that others do too”
On that topic—what has the feedback been like for Smile Revolution?
Well, as dental professionals, we’re generally quite open to learning online through webinars and other events, particularly during these COVID-19 times, but there wasn’t anything out there that supported on-the-go learning in the way that the podcast does. It’s something that you can engage with while commuting, for example, and other dental professionals really seem to appreciate how it can help them to recognise and overcome challenges that they’re facing.
In dentistry, it can sometimes be very easy to get absorbed by a certain aspect of your work that you’ve been involved with for a long time, and you may feel stagnated and may find it challenging to find a solution to a certain problem; you may also be unaware of new pathways opening up for your career. I hope that the podcast continues to provide listeners with a new way of implementing tips and guidance into their everyday practice that can actively help them and their patients, as well as opportunities outside of clinical settings.
“As dental professionals, we’re generally quite open to learning online”
Have you found that the informal nature of the conversations on the podcast help it to resonate with listeners?
Yes, especially because all of the guests on the podcast are registered clinicians who are working with an evidence-based approach. The stories that they’re providing are from real-life clinical situations and involve ways of working that have been adapted to fit the patient’s needs, but the conversation itself is unplanned and informal—listeners can turn the podcast on and really relate to certain scenarios, whereas when you’re listening to a presenter at a conference, it’s obviously a bit more planned out and generally more formal.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you approach oral health promotion through Smile Revolution?
I’m aware that there are so many online platforms at the moment, partially because of the pandemic, but what I focus on is talking to and delving into my guests’ stories and learning about what they have overcome. So while Smile Revolution’s content is always changing along with the ways we reach our audience, COVID-19 hasn’t really changed the overall mission of the podcast.
It’s been a very uncertain time for clinicians across the globe that has caused a lot of anxiety, and as a result, something additional that I’m offering through Smile Revolution is online yoga classes. I’m a registered yoga teacher, and one element of Smile Revolution’s mission is to support the dental profession, which includes helping their overall well-being. Around 70% of the dental workforce has experienced musculoskeletal issues, and the profession can have a profound impact on not just our bodies but our minds as well, so doing something like yoga can help greatly in this respect.
Lastly, I am just about to launch a course on how to start an oral health promotional business. I wish to share with the dental profession all I have learnt in the process of establishing Smile Revolution and now share this with colleagues to enable them to create their own sustainable oral health promotional projects and businesses so that we collectively as a dental profession continue to elevate our reach to serve overcoming the most prevalent preventable disease globally, dental caries.
Editorial note: This interview was published in prevention―international magazine for oral health Vol. 4, issue 2/2020.