Jennifer Turner, Vice President of Dental Hygiene Operations, 123Dentist

Over the years, there has been a gradually increasing awareness regarding oral hygiene. While oral healthcare was previously a neglected component of primary healthcare, it is now recognized as empowering overall health and preventing oral diseases. To truly achieve this, one must tend to various domains such as oral health evaluation, patient specific education and communication, risk assessment, and interprofessional collaborative practice.

Jennifer Turner, Vice President of Dental Hygiene Operations at 123Dentist, plays a crucial role in bringing about a positive change in this domain. “Currently, I have the autonomy to lead dental hygiene in the direction I feel it should strive towards in Canada while meeting or exceeding the Standards of Practice for 123Dentist,” opines Jennifer.

A leader in the dental hygiene space, Jennifer holds a myriad of prestigious roles. She is the Vice President of Dental Hygiene Operations at 123Dentist, Key Opinion Leader for Crest + Oral B, Professional Industry Speaker, Writer for Industry Publications, and Advisory Board Member for Spectrum Hygiene. She reveals, “I may be the only dental hygienist in Canada to have had the opportunity to have such a varied and rewarding career leading in the Dental Service Organization (DSO), Dental Hygiene Provincial Regulation, Dental Hygiene National Association from an employee and board member perspective, award winning Dental Hygiene & Assisting Professor, Dental Hygiene Clinical Director, and Dental Practice Management. One concept that I have always stayed true to throughout my career is we rise by lifting others. I strongly feel that we are so much better together working towards common goals as there is no “I” in team.”

About the Company

123Dentist is a leading dental support organization in Canada. It has grown from a single practice in Vancouver, owned by CEO Dr. Amin Shivji and two partners, to more than 250 supported practices and 3,500 team members. 123Dentist was founded on two key principles: putting patients above all else; and that supported dentists and staff are the most important factors in keeping patients happy. The organization possesses the vision to be the best dental community that all Canadian dentists and dental professionals want to belong to.

123Dentist offers alternative partnership models to meet the needs of each dentist, including the opportunity to retain ownership at the clinic. This unique model enables the dentist to focus on providing optimal patient care while an experienced team provides a wide range of support services. Carving a niche for itself in this sector, the company has achieved due recognition and several accolades. Jennifer takes great pride in when 123Dentist was declared a winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for 2022, sponsored by Deloitte Private, CIBC, The Globe and Mail, Salesforce and TMX Group. “This prestigious award is a testament to our incredible team who worked collaboratively, putting the patient at the center of all decision making and delivering value and support to our dental partners and clinic teams every day,” says Dr. Shivji.

Most of the key stakeholders, comprising Directors and Regional Managers, have a strong dental background which allows them as a company to truly make decisions and to understand and support the teams the best way they possibly can. “123Dentist fosters a people-first culture, has an agile business strategy, and a collaborative workplace. I strongly feel that the company culture, teamwork, and having such a vast dental background in our company is what makes 123Dentist unique,” declares Jennifer. She continues, “123Dentist has an entrepreneurial spirit within the company that permits me to focus on what I know the business needs, what my own team needs, and of course what our practices across Canada need. I believe that kindness and empathy in leadership creates a stronger connection between people that increases collaboration of ideas, raises levels of trust and maintains loyalty.”

On July 12, 2022, 123Dentist, Altima Dental, and Lapointe Group announced that they entered into a merger agreement to create one of the largest dental support organizations in Canada, with nearly 350 supported dental practices. The transaction is being financed through equity capital provided by 123Dentist’s existing financial partner, Peloton Capital Management; new investors KKR, a leading global investment firm, and Heartland Dental, a KKR portfolio company and the leading dental support organization in the U.S.; and Sentinel Capital Partners, Altima Dental’s existing financial partner.   “We expect this merger to benefit Canadian dentists, dental professionals and patients alike, greatly expanding support services for an already thriving dentist community that focuses on the delivery of exceptional care, improving access to high quality dentistry services, and increasing opportunities for career advancement and mentorship for our team members,” said Dr. Shivji.  The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Competition Act (Canada), and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022.

Successfully Heading a Gamut of Initiatives

Jennifer strives to meet and exceed industry expectations and bring about dynamic changes within the domain. She is currently leading a host of key initiatives at 123Dentist, and The Smile program is one such countrywide initiative where she works closely with Dr. Mark Hamanishi, 123Dentists, Chief Orthodontic Officer and Julie Gaffney, Director of Dental Hygiene Operations. This program has been designed to support the entire dental team in integrating and utilizing their iTero scanners to provide an optimal patient experience. This may include a dental wellness scan during the dental hygiene appointment or by having better clinical conversations with patients on Invisalign or for cosmetic or restorative needs so the patients teeth function properly.

The Sleep Breathing Disorder Program is another approach led by Jennifer and Dr. Sam Kherani, 123Dentists Chief Dental Officer to help identify the symptoms of sleep breathing disorders, treat the patient, and have them sleep well again. “We know that many dental patients do not sleep well, gasp, snore or choke during sleep, and are tired throughout the day. We want to help them re-discover a good night’s sleep and sleep in the same bed as their partner. Untreated sleep disorders can have a devastating impact on health and quality of life,” elucidates Jennifer.

She is also simultaneously spearheading the Dental Hygiene Growth & Development Program. This program elevates, supports and celebrates how dental hygienists at 123Dentists treat their patients. It ensures that the dental hygienists have what they need to do their job, thus ensuring that the team meets and exceeds the Standards of Practice for dental hygiene care across Canada. Yet another initiative headed by her is the 123Dentist In-House Programs for Dental Assisting and Dental Office Administration. This program allows potential students to learn, grow, and excel at 123Dentist and create a career they may have been looking for after completing the program. This opportunity has changed the lives of many already in the Toronto and Vancouver area. Lastly, the Continuing Education Program is also led by Jennifer. She adds, “At 123Dentist, we always love to learn, network, and ensure our teams access the best learning through our 123Dentist learning portal. My role is to work with our Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Kherani and dental industry partners to find or create relevant dental continuing education for our dentists, dental hygienists, and team members.”

Offering a Comprehensive Suite of Services

Bringing about a paradigm shift in this sector through the aforementioned initiatives, Jennifer also works hard each day to accomplish several other tasks. Every day is a new day filled with various responsibilities, and Jennifer, being the true Gemini, she believes to be, thrives on change, and loves the fact that every day is different.

Jennifer’s professional journey hasn’t been linear and that has been by design. She took chances and risks and always goes with her gut instinct. Jennifer believes in clear communication, transparency, trust, and accountability. She enjoys coaching, mentoring, and working with individuals and teams and believes that when they know more, then they can do better. She enjoys acknowledging and celebrating team and individual wins within our 123Dentist network.

Jennifer states that she has had a variety of leaders throughout her career, and this has taught her that her personal approach to leadership and influence is to lead with kindness and empathy which wins every time.  She jokingly says this is her secret sauce to be better together and build one another up. An example that she shares is her approach to every business challenge which is to listen, understand, share and then align on a go-forward plan.

I feel that I bring a high level of thinking, strategy, and accountability. I can drive results and always assume people have positive intentions. I am kind, honest, collaborative, and hold myself to the same standard as those on the 123Dentist team,” says Jennifer.

But the career path that Jennifer carved out for herself was not the initial plan. After graduating from high school, she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. So, Jennifer took business administration in college. In the months to come, she realized that it was not the right fit for her and failed that year. “I am sharing this piece of my life with you because I believe that anything is possible when you set your mind to it. Yes, I failed out of my first year of college, but here I am today, empowering others to chase after their dreams and to never give up on themselves,” reveals Jennifer.

After business administration, she went to school for dental assisting and worked with an amazing husband and wife dental team. Jennifer excelled at that position and decided to go into dental hygiene. “It was one of the best decisions of my life as I have been able to have a wide variety of positions in the dental hygiene industry. An interesting personal fact is that the day I began at 123Dentist, we had 123 dental clinics. If that isn’t a sign that I was in the right place, I don’t know what is,” says Jennifer.

Attaining Recognition

Gaining a solid foothold in this sector today, Jennifer has been acknowledged for all her work to bring about a radical transformation in the dental hygiene space. She has received several rewards such as ‘Excellence in Teaching’ from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, ‘Best Oral Health Promotion Event’ from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, ‘Elizabeth Craig Award of Distinction’ from the Ontario Dental Hygienists Association and Nominated by the students for ‘Faculty of the Year’ at Niagara College.

Jennifer endeavours to strike a mindful balance between her work and personal life, excelling in her profession. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her high school best friends, devoting her time to her 21-year-old son and family, listening to Audible, or even spending a day at the spa! Looking forward to what the future holds, Jennifer shares with us what Dr. Shivji envisions for 123Dentist, “The immediate plans for 123Dentist are to continue to rapidly grow across Canada, work collaboratively, putting the patient at the center of all decision making and delivering value and support to our dental partners and clinic team, every day.” Jennifer signs off, “As we grow larger, I am honoured to be a part of this company, scale the programs that I lead, and work together with such talented people and truly enjoy what I do every day.”

If I could share any advice for some starting out or in the dental business for 20 years is to “chase your dreams”.  Take a chance and believe in yourself.  And if you’re not scared, you aren’t dreaming big enough.

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