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Heather Hakes, RDH

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Heather Hakes, RDH, was born in Upstate New York where she started her Dental Hygiene career in 2000. Heather practiced in Upstate New York for three years at a general dentist practice where she gained experience with high and low functioning special needs patients. Heather then went on to pediatrics before moving to Virginia in 2007. She currently practices in Virginia in a general dental practice, where she has worked for the last ten years. Heather also works one day per week in an office with periodontal focus. Heather resides in rural Virginia with her husband, Robert, her son Ryan, and two dogs, Rex and Jake. Heather enjoys home improvement projects, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

5 Key Principles of Dental Ethics & How to Apply Them

Dental ethics is “a system of principles governing the dental practice, a moral obligation to render the best quality of dental services to the patient and to maintain an honest relationship with other professionals and society.”1 Dental ethics plays an integral role in the daily practice of dental hygiene and infiltrate the “how” to proceed, the “why” to proceed,...

Periodontal Diagnosis: How to Maintain Positive Control of the Appointment

As dental hygienists we’ve all been there, treating a new patient with a periodontal diagnosis.  How do we turn an appointment around after we diagnose a new patient who has been seen by the same dentist regularly for years yet has never heard of periodontal disease?  It’s an everyday struggle for a dental hygienist to gain control of the...

How the Dental Hygiene Profession has Changed During My 22 Year Career

As a 22-year seasoned clinician in the dental hygiene community, I have witnessed profound changes in dental practice and job opportunities and developed a strong rapport with dental patients and dental staff. My role as a dental hygienist has given me both dental knowledge and a personal understanding of patients' needs. Timeline 2000 ─ My career started at a general dental...

Noteworthy Women in Dentistry Part 3: 21st Century Continued Progress

The 1800s opened the gates to women in dentistry, and during the 1900s, women flooded those gates. The conclusion of the three-part series on “Noteworthy Women in Dentistry” is about the women dental professionals of the 21st century. The beginning of the 2000s showcased the acceptance, integration, and accomplishments of women in the field of dentistry early in this...

Dental Implants: Smoking Effects on Dental Implants

Dental implant placement has gained popularity over the years as an effective, long-term tooth replacement option. Under the right conditions, dental implants have a success rate of 98%.1 However, dental implants have some drawbacks, such as implant failure due to smoking. Thus, a thorough patient screening is important prior to dental implant treatment planning. A dental implant is a screw-like...

Noteworthy Women in Dentistry Part 2: 20th Century’s Progressives in America

The late 1800s and early 1900s brought about many changes in economics, social and environmental reforms in the United States. This was known as the "Progressive Era" and inspired women and women's organizations to strive for equality.1 In addition to women's participation in dentistry, women fought for economic and political parity as well as social reforms such as the...

Noteworthy Women in Dentistry Part 1: 19th Century’s Pioneers in America

Dentistry is an integral part of our overall health, and the profession has gained recognition for its contributions during the last three centuries. In the 20th century, women in dentistry had increasingly become the profession's primary caregivers. In a once male-dominated profession, women now make up roughly 48% of practicing dentists and 95% of practicing dental hygienists and assistants.1,2 The...

Six Famous Historical Men Who Were Also Dentists

As dental professionals, we seem to eat and sleep dentistry. When a friend or stranger approaches us, we first notice their smile. When we sleep, we have dreams of scaling patients. Lastly, most conversations result in small talk about teeth or an occurrence at work. However, how often do we hear of famous people who have a dentistry career? Here...

A Breakdown of the Most Common Toothpaste Ingredients and their Benefits

Have you ever browsed the oral care section of a store and were completely overwhelmed with all the different types of available dentifrices? The variety includes an emphasis on whitening, sensitivity, charcoal, organic, and non-fluoride ‒ to name a few. As a result, it is completely understandable when a patient inquires with a deer-in-the-headlight look, “What is the best toothpaste...

How Cold Weather Negatively Affects Oral Health

Winter months bring not only holidays and celebrations but also the cold weather that can precipitate sinus issues, flu, colds, depression, and fatigue. Cold weather can also inadvertently cause complications of the mouth, such as xerostomia, hypersensitivity, and other abnormalities. Importantly, knowing the signs and symptoms will allow for the clinician to implement the proper patient education to combat...

Analogies: How Hygienists Can Increase Patients’ Understanding of Dental Treatment

Communication between the patient and the clinician is a key component in a successful dental appointment.  In order to have successful communication, understanding is essential to bridge the gap of knowledge between clinician and patient.  The use of visual aids and reading materials can be useful in providing the patient with the information needed for better understanding. Another form...

Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste: Should Dental Hygienists Recommend this Fluoride Alternative?

A common concern among patients during a dental hygiene appointment is the use of fluoride. Whether it is an applied topical fluoride application at the appointment or the use of fluoride toothpaste at home, some patients don’t prefer it. However, fluoride is recommended by the dental professional to reduce caries production and to promote remineralization of a compromised tooth...

Halloween Candy: The Dental Implications of Different Kinds

It is that time of year when children dress up and go door-to-door to collect bags full of candy. It is also that time of year where diet and nutrition are discarded, and parents face the unthinkable: their children will be consuming large quantities of Halloween candy. Sweets play one of the key roles in dental caries. However, the...

5 Amazing Dental Facts You May Not Know

Let's break up the monotony of dental hygienists' timed appointments, scientific data, patient education, and continuing education by exploring the world of amazing dental facts. This article will embark on a world outside the dental office while keeping the oral cavity in focus. 1) Most Teeth The average human has 32 teeth by adulthood. However, on September 20, 2014, Guinness World...

How Increased Marijuana Legalization Impacts Oral Health of Dental Patients

The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana use medically and recreationally have increased over the years. Although seven states are still waiting on approval from legislatures, 16 states have declared full legalization of the use of medicinal marijuana, as well as recreational marijuana. The remaining states vary between medical use only or the use of CBD oils for medical purposes.1 However,...

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome: The Importance of a Dental Diagnosis

As dental clinicians, the medical history and clinical examination of our patients play important roles in differentiating vital signs which may be affecting the patient’s medical and dental health. Recently, the dental community has become more aware of the potential risks to medical health through disrupted sleep patterns caused by anatomical facial variances. Dental clinicians can initiate the diagnosis...

Heart Health: Importance of Pre-Operative Blood Pressure Screenings in the Dental Office

Have you been asked countless times by patients why dental clinicians need to take blood pressure prior to the appointment? Are you working in an office that has yet to establish a patient triage prior to appointments? Understanding the important role that the dental clinician plays in risk assessment protocol can mean life or death to patients. Blood pressure is...

Sleep Apnea: A Growing Health Concern Hygienists Need to Know About

Sleep apnea has become a growing health concern because of its link to other potentially fatal health conditions. Sleep apnea occurs when there are pauses in the breathing of people sleeping, and may result in the sufferer waking and gasping for air. As dental clinicians, we have the ability to evaluate our patients for potential sleep disorders, based on...

Laser Dentistry: Cutting Edge Dentistry

Laser dentistry is a non-evasive approach to dentistry. “Laser” is derived from the acronym “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.1” Lasers have been used in dentistry for over twenty years for the treatment of both hard and soft tissue. In 1994, lasers were first introduced in dentistry for soft tissue treatment, after receiving approval from the Food and...

Vitamin Deficiencies: Noting the Oral Health Clues Present in the Mouth

The recent emphasis on the importance of a healthy diet and good nutrition has not been ignored by the dental profession. Vitamins and nutrients can have significant effects on the oral cavity. The patient’s medical history, clinical evaluation, and radiographs can reveal the negative effects of vitamin deficiencies and resulting oral manifestations. The most common vitamins that are introduced and...