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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.

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...

Oral Malodor: Causes, Effects, and Treatment of the Dental Patient

The nationwide trend toward wearing masks has precipitated a new concern for dental patients − oral malodor, aka bad breath. Oral malodor is an “unpleasant odor” created by gram-negative anaerobic bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSC).”1,2 Malodor roughly affects over 50% of the population, and the causes vary from pathologic to nonpathologic in nature. The dental hygienist plays a...

5 Dental Urban Legends: The Tooth be Told

Urban legends are types of modern folklore or fictional stories presented as true and used for entertainment or to serve as cautionary tales. Urban legends were first published in 1968 and are typically complete stories with plots and characters that are “rooted in popular culture” and display elements of “fear, humor, mystery or horror”.1 The urban legends of dentistry...

Pandemic Mandates vs. Guidelines and Challenges for Dental Team Members

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many dental offices were mandated to discontinue all elective procedures. The mandatory shutdown caused some dental offices to shut their doors, offering no elective dental treatment and only emergency treatment. As the states rescinded their shutdown orders, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not updated guidelines regarding elective care...

The History of Dental Hygiene: Development through the Years

As I get older, I notice myself commonly making references to the past by using the phrase, “Back in the day…” Music and television award shows also pay homage to their past and the changes that have taken place over the years. Then, too, education teaches lessons on past world history as it does on current world affairs. History...

Dental News: A Look Back at Some Big Stories from 2019

Every year, the dental industry makes strides to improve knowledge and stay on the cutting edge. Enhancing patients’ experiences through new technologies, improved business operations, and an optimal standard of care in dentistry are a few examples of how the dental industry moves forward year after year. For example, in 2019, the dental industry advocated for patient safety in attempting...

10 Dental Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is a joyous holiday enjoyed by all ages. The annual celebration brings together families for cookie baking, gift exchanging, trimming the tree, and caroling. Gift exchanging has become commemorative of the Christmas tradition. Waking in the morning to find gifts under the tree or stockings stuffed with gifts brings joy to those receiving and those observing. Christmas traditions are...

Halloween Candy and Dental Decay: Taking the Trick out of the Treat

On October 31st, dental professionals cringe every time the candy lands in the bucket after our kids shout out the expected “Trick-or-Treat!” Once our little ghouls come home with a full bucket of “treats,” the “trick” is keeping their mouths cavity-free. Dental caries among children from ages six through eleven affects up to 21 percent of the U.S. population.1 The...

10 (More) Pet Peeves of Dental Hygienists

Although the dental hygiene profession can be rewarding at times, those little nuances called “pet peeves” can overshadow the day. After a positive response to my first article, 10 Pet Peeves of Dental Hygienists (Plus 5 Patient Pet Peeves), I am following up with 10 additional pet peeves. The following is a list of pet peeves not yet explored on...

Dental Hygiene: A Community Coming Together with Shared Experiences

The dental hygiene profession can be self-satisfying, rewarding, educating, and humbling, as well as trifling, mentally and physically exhausting, and perplexing.  Judging from recent dental hygiene blogs, it seems that the majority of practicing dental hygienists have encountered similar reactions, both positive and negative, in their work environments. Dental hygienists juggle the emotional rollercoaster of patients, fellow employees, doctors, professional...

Pediatric Prophylaxis: Helpful Hints for Dental Appointments with Children

An emphasis on the importance of dental health has increased the number of children seeking dental visits. A study conducted in 2014 reported that 64.6% of children under the age of 18 visited their dentist every six months.1 This statistic increased to 84.6% in another study conducted in 2017.2 Implementing a successful pediatric visit will often encourage children and their...

Restorative: Additive Developed in Oregon Could Strengthen Treatment Options

The dental community is in a continual search for better dental materials and treatment options to provide an affordable, durable, and improved quality of care for its patients. The Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Dentistry has recently developed a filling material that is “two times more resistant than standard filling” materials presently used in dentistry.1  Currently,...

Children’s Oral Health Month: Emphasis on Children’s Dental Care

February is designated Children’s Oral Health Month in the dental community. Children’s Oral Health Month places emphasis on educating parents and children on the importance of children’s oral health. As part of the celebration, dental professionals and dental supply companies focus on oral health care prevention and preparation for the challenges facing children’s oral health. Caries is the most preventable...

Dental Hygiene Diagnosis: The Basis for Standard of Care

The dental hygiene diagnosis is an integral part of a dental hygiene appointment. It allows for the collection of data to be formulated into an oral health care plan that is patient-specific in order to obtain optimum oral health care instruction. Consequently, the dental hygiene diagnosis has gained a heightened awareness by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American...

Dental Therapists: A Solution to the Lack of Dental Care Needs Being Met?

Recently, the state of Arizona signed the bill to allow for a mid-level, licensed dental professional, called a “dental therapist,” to provide care in underserved areas.1 A dental therapist is a mid-level, licensed oral care provider who provides preventative and restorative oral care.2 The admittance of such a new oral health provider has caused conflict between state officials and...

The Importance of Seeking Professional Dental Treatment for Teeth Whitening & Orthodontics

The internet’s availability has changed the way society functions. It has opened doors to information, products, and social connections. Access to the internet allows the browser to review products and businesses and to order products and services, as well as to make appointments and access medical records. Dental products and services are not exceptions. The internet’s ease of access...

Athletic Mouth Guards: Playing It Safe

It is that time of year when the kids start a new school year, and many participate in school sports programs. Although schools attempt to keep our children safe on and off the field, the regulations for athletic mouth guards are not consistent with the need to prevent injury in the majority of school-based sports. A dental professional has...

10 Pet Peeves of Dental Hygienists (Plus 5 Patient Pet Peeves)

We all go through our days capping our frustrations from those unexpected little annoyances, aka pet peeves. A pet peeve is defined as “a minor annoyance that individuals identify as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find.” Whether you are driving in your car and someone pulls out in front of you, only to turn...

Oil Pulling: Is it Effective?

I have recently been asked my professional opinion on “coconut oil pulling” by numerous patients. Although unfamiliar with this technique, I was curious about its benefits to dental health. What is “Oil Pulling?” Oil pulling is an ancient and traditional technique that is practiced in Southeast Asia and India. The remedy claims to remove bacterial toxins, mostly Streptococcus mutans, which...

Communication in Dentistry: The Layman’s Way

Communication is the process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of articulation. This article will focus on replacing dental terms and conditions using layman terms to ensure patient understanding and, thus, better communication. Providing a clearer picture of the diagnosis, treatment or recommendations will allow clinicians to bridge the gap between themselves and their...