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Everyday people: Acker enjoys keepin' Ellsworth smiling

Kate Acker is a dental hygienist for Shaw Family Dental in Ellsworth. The Bay City native said she's always enjoyed getting her teeth cleaned and knew from a young age that she wanted to be a hygienist. -- photo by Sarah Gorvin

ELLSWORTH -- There aren't many people who can say they actually enjoy going to the dentist. Kate Acker counts herself as one of the few.

"As a kid, I always liked to get my teeth cleaned," she said.

Which, coupled with the traditional four-day work weeks and relatively high pay, is why the Bay City native chose to be a dental hygienist.

It's a profession Acker said she knew she always wanted.

"I just liked teeth," she said.

After graduating from Rochester Technical and Community College with an associate's degree, Acker spent two years working for a dentist in Hudson, Wis.

Then, with an eye toward being closer to her hometown, she took her current position in Ellsworth four years ago.

"I knew I was going to end up around here," she said, adding that living in Ellsworth means she's just minutes away from both her and her husband's parents.

Now, Acker sees roughly eight patients a day. It's a schedule that she says makes the day hectic.

"It's go, go, go," she said. "My day goes fast."

But she added that the structured time slots make it easy for her to stay on task.

A big part of Acker's job is helping people get over their fear of dentists. She said many people had a bad experience as a child and it's "amazing" how many people are afraid and anxious when they first sit down in her chair.

"Getting them to trust you ... that's the biggest thing," Acker said. "It's just understanding where they're coming from, explaining everything, making them comfortable."

For Acker, building that trust and getting to know her patients is one of her favorite parts of the job.

"All my patients are very good," she said. "You get to know them on a personal level. That's what's fun about it."

Helping to get and keep her clients' teeth healthy is another source of enjoyment for Acker.

"It's fun when their mouth is in rough shape and then in a year or two, it's such a big change," she said. "Every visit, it looks better. That's fun."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.