Dentistry with Heart

Garrett Cecchini portrait



07 May 24

Initially interested in a career in computer science or video games, Ostrow grad Garrett Cecchini endeavored for a profession that would afford him an opportunity to develop lifelong relationships.   

LEARING TO PLAY ROCK CHORD PROGRESSSIONS on his acoustic guitar was never part of his dental school coursework, but that’s no matter to Garrett Cecchini DH ’19, DDS ’24. 

He grew up in Montebello strumming classic rock and punk rock tunes and, like his jazz-loving dentist grandfather before him, Cecchini is planning to play and sing songs to his patients to lighten the mood. 

“You’ll hear that people had a bad experience with their dentist as a child, or they’re just terrified in general,” he says. “The psychological aspect of dentistry has always interested me. As a clinician, I’ll have the ability to alleviate that fear and work with patients to be more comfortable.”

The Whittier, Calif., native will become a third-generation dentist — after his grandfather and father — but he wasn’t convinced that dentistry was the route he’d take as an undergraduate. He thrilled to computer science and video games in high school, but he thought twice about becoming a game developer during his college orientation. 

 “Something clicked. I wanted an immediate change. I needed something more personable,” he says. “I always remembered how my family would interact with patients. They’d form these amazing relationships. I said to myself, ‘let’s give this a try.’”

He enrolled in Ostrow’s dental hygiene program in 2017. There, he discovered a passion for the work. His fate was sealed. 

“The faculty made me absolutely love the field, and I wanted to keep going,” he says. “As soon as I graduated from dental hygiene, I knew exactly what I needed to do. They prepared me amazingly for the real world.”


Always Have a Positive Mental Attitude


Cecchini took a gap year before entering dental school, performing cleanings at his father’s practice and three other practices: “I got to experience a breadth of different offices, and I took with me little pearls of wisdom from different clinicians. That helped me grow and prepare me for dental school.” 

Cecchini also worked as a volunteer adjunct dental hygiene faculty member at Ostrow. He says dental hygiene work gave him “the confidence to be inside someone’s mouth.” 

Cecchini is planning to join his father’s Montebello practice after graduation. James Cecchini III now runs the office, which his grandfather, James II, started in the 1960s. Garrett Cecchini’s mother also works at the practice as a dental hygienist, and his younger sister is considering a career in dentistry. 

Cecchini says he is “super excited” to launch his career, but he’s also committed to a healthy work-life balance. 

“It’s important to be in touch with your hobbies,” he notes. “I love going to the gym and working out, and I love playing music.  So having those activities to de-stress will really help. Healthy body, healthy mind — I’m a big proponent of that.”

For others who plan to become dental hygienists and dentists, Cecchini recommends the lessons he learned during his early days of hygiene school: “My dental hygiene director, Professor Diane Melrose had a mantra of ‘always having a positive mental attitude. Always smile and say good morning to everyone around you.’ That energy has carried me far in these four years.” 

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