Helen Braley, B.S., R.D.H.
I am so glad to return to Dr. Sherwin and Dr. Hammitt’s team as a dental hygienist! I previously assisted Dr. Sherwin before attending dental hygiene school. I absolutely love our patients and staff. Being part of such an exceptional private practice is a dream come true. I was born and raised in Culpeper and have the pleasure of calling Dr. Sherwin family (he is my uncle)! He was very inspirational early in my education when I was initially attracted to a career in dentistry. Dr. Sherwin has been supportive of my every step. I enjoy spending my free time with my husband, Jon and our furry pets. We look forward to the adventures of growing old together!
I attended James Madison University and received a bachelor’s of science in biology in 2012. I love science and relished in challenging courses like organic chemistry (it’s in my blood as I’m the child of two chemists). I knew in school I was interested in dentistry and pursued a job as a dental assistant to Dr. Sherwin after I graduated. After two amazing years with his staff, I was inspired by my mentor, Bettina Gigliello, to attend dental hygiene school and obtain further education in periodontal disease, oral pathology and dental care. In school I served as vice-president of the Lord Fairfax Community College's Student American Dental Hygiene Association. Our SADHA chapter was very active in the community, educating the public at health fairs, performing hours of community service and volunteering at events such as the 'Give Kids a Smile' program. I enjoyed the rigorous coursework and seeing patients in clinicals. I graduated in 2016, cum laude, with an applied associates in dental hygiene.
Dental Hygiene Philosophy
I chose the profession of dental hygiene to make a change in someone’s day or even life. Being afforded the opportunity to work as a dental assistant prior to entering the field of dental hygiene opened my eyes to the importance of the roles of a dental hygienist. I saw the dental hygienist helping individuals improve their systemic health and brighten their day while creating long standing relationships with the patients. This profession as a true healthcare practitioner can help individuals fighting the oral side effects of diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer. A hygienist should be knowledgeable and truly care about patient needs. I value the importance of being a good listener and a friend to a patient in need.
I still see these expectations, but I truly appreciate the effort that is put in to create this trusting environment. I value the education that has been given to me and the opportunities to grow throughout my career. I also value the opportunity to practice with autonomy between patients, while offering the highest quality of care. Throughout my experience, I appreciate the extent of our ability to treat disease and infection and am always interested in new techniques and technology to improve oral and systemic wellness.
I believe in being a lifelong learner. The understanding of dental health is constantly improving and I want to be part of disseminating this imperative information. Not only will I be helping my patients by implementing new knowledge, but I am bettering myself. I believe, as dental hygienists, we are health care providers but also the individual who can listen or make a difference in our patients’ lives. I care about my patients from my heart. Everyone deserves the highest standard of care and I want to be the hygienist who helps them achieve it.
Diane L. Walls, R.D.H.
Joining the Dr. Sherwin and Dr. Hammitt team has been an incredible honor. I am proud to be a member of such an amazingly talented, and genuinely compassionate team. It is important to me, to work with others who are like-minded in the treatment of patients like family. I do not take it lightly, when a patient chooses our practice and entrusts us with their oral health and care. It is an absolute pleasure to serve you and yours! I want you to be completely comfortable in my care and leave the office feeling like you understand every step and/or recommendation that we have offered to you. I want to partner with you in obtaining your optimal oral health.
As a Registered Dental Hygienist, I have the incredible privilege of “doing what I love and loving what I do”. What a Blessing!
After attending the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!) for a year, I found myself restless and yearning for adventure. I decided to join the US Air Force, and served four years as an Air Traffic Controller. I traveled from Mississippi, to Texas, and on to Guam where I met my US Marine Corps husband. After marrying my Marine, I chose to leave the Air Force and seek a new career. I returned to school at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where I completed the prerequisites for Dental Hygiene School and obtained an Associate of Arts Degree with honors from Coastal Carolina. Using my G.I. Bill and a Merit Based Scholarship, I completed my Dental Hygiene Degree, again with honors, at Wayne Community College. I then received my Dental Hygiene License from the University of North Carolina in 1997. After working in the field for a few years, I attended the Medical University of South Carolina to obtain my licenses to administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation in 2000.
As a military wife, I had the good fortune of moving to many places around the world and serving as a dental hygienist in many capacities. I have practiced in traditional private family practices, as well as, alongside Americas finest Army and Navy dental professionals; caring for our nations warriors. In some cases, these patients had never seen a dentist before; in fact, some had never even seen a toothbrush. I had the good fortune of improving these young men and women’s oral health while educating them on how to care for themselves. Their gratitude continues to overwhelm me, and it is amazing to see their huge smiles following transition. These relationships have been incredibly rewarding. I believe in educating my patients so that they understand the link between their oral and overall health. I like to speak with my patients in terms that they understand, as communication is key to gaining and maintaining trust in the short amount of time we have together.
In private practice, I have cared for patients ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics, including patients with mental handicaps and disabilities. I have volunteered for several Dental Access Day programs where free dental services are offered for an entire weekend. I was exhausted at the end of each event, but smiling from ear-to-ear knowing that I had helped numerous people who need dental care. If I could, I would do this type of dentistry all the time.
In addition to my regular dental hygiene patient care position, I also serve as an Independent Professional Educator on behalf of WaterPik, Incorporated. In this capacity, I visit dental offices in Virginia and Maryland to educate the staff on the efficacy and safety of WaterPik WaterFloss products. Typically, I visit at least six offices per month and truly enjoy interacting with other professionals in a field that I am passionate about. I love to share ideas and thought regarding the latest products, best care, and treatment for our patients; including YOU.
I hope to see you very soon!