Hello! My name is Ifaa and I have been a New York implant for three-four years now. My journey in the dental profession started right after high school. In my home country of Israel, all citizens are drafted to the military after high school and I was no exception. Luckily, I was one of the fortunate few who was offered a dental hygiene/dental assistant position and my parents were very encouraging of this opportunity. At the time I was an aspiring musician but my parents brought me back down to earth with a few words: “Anyone who’s aspiring to make a living off of the arts, should have a safety net.” Dental hygiene was only going to be my safety net initially, but then I fell in love with the profession!

I finished my service in 2003 as a dental assistant with a sergeant status. (Yeah, a sergeant, me…). And I continued my dental journey and enrolled in Tel Aviv University to become a dental hygienist. Since my graduation, I have worked in multiple clinics as both a dental hygienist and dental assistant, with my longest term in a clinic called Pele. I worked there for 10 years and loved every minute of it, but then everything changed when I reconnected with my, now, wife. We fell in love and I decided to drop everything, move with her to New York, and re-study the profession I love so much. (If that’s not love of teeth, I don’t know what is).

CUNY was an obvious choice when researching dental hygiene programs in NYC. It was revered as one of the best programs and it also helps that it is more affordable. The catch, the program is very competitive and only a chosen few are able to enter each year. Even though I was determined to succeed and get into this program, the road to success was bumpy and confusing. Spoiler, I made it into the program, but not without difficulty.  Now I am on a mission to make the process for prospective dental hygiene freshmen a little less scary and, hopefully, a lot more enjoyable.

As a photographer, I wholeheartedly believe in the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This gave me the idea that if prospective students could get a glimpse into our daily lives as dental hygiene students, they would not only be more educated when entering the field but also excited to be  part of this amazing program. (What can I say, we are a pretty fun and eclectic group of people!). I pitched the idea to Prof. Matthews and together we came up with a proposal for an Honors Project where I would create this OpenLab website and fill it with lots of pictures and helpful information for our prospective students. And here we are now, making it all happen!


This work is an Honors Project completed by iFaA Raizer-Amit in DEN2300 (Principles of Dental Hygiene Care III) with the guidance of Professor Anna Matthews as the project’s advisor. All images were taken with the consent of students, patients, faculty, and staff members. Anonymous students’ quotes were shared with their permission and their understanding of their purpose.