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Tanya L. Smith, RDH, BS

Tanya L. Smith, RDH, BS
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Tanya L. Smith, RDH, BS, has been a clinical dental hygienist in private practice in Tucson, AZ, since graduating from Rio Salado College in 2011. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene at Northern Arizona University, Summa Cum Laude, in 2014. A regular volunteer at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center Dental Clinic, she also enjoys writing, research, and traveling in her spare time.

Taste Disorders: What Dental Hygienists Need to Know to Help Patients

Loss of taste is often regarded as less important when compared to vision and hearing loss. It is poorly studied because taste loss is not considered serious or life-threatening. The sense of taste, however, is essential to the overall health of dental patients.1 Also known as dysgeusia, taste disorders can be frustrating for patients and may negatively affect psychological well-being,...

Kiss and Tell: Variations of Normal and Pathology of the Lips

Dental hygienists who perform comprehensive intraoral and extraoral exams recognize the importance of healthy labial mucosa. Dental patients may present with pathology or variations of normal pertaining to the lips, ranging from Fordyce spots and cheilitis to cancer. Patients may not have any symptoms or only esthetic concerns, but it is important to be able to differentiate benign conditions from those...

Trismus: A Potential Complication of Administering Local Anesthesia

Local anesthetic agents have been used in clinical dentistry to reduce or eliminate pain associated with invasive dental procedures since the early 19th century. Local anesthesia involves the injection of an anesthetic solution adjacent to the nerves that provide sensation to a region of the oral cavity where treatment will be delivered. Anesthetic solution temporarily prevents the propagation of...

Pediatric Oral Education: Guide Parents Through Risks, Benefits of Pacifier Use

Dental hygienists inevitably encounter the question of pacifier use, and it is important to understand the risks and benefits of non-nutritive sucking habits in infants and young children. Pacifier use in some developed countries is so culturally established that the prevalence is up to 42.5% in young children by the age of one year.1 Nutritive sucking habits are those that...

Oral Health Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has many devotees beyond the original intent of a controlled nutritional response to pediatric epilepsy. Dental hygienists have an in-depth understanding of nutrition's pivotal role in oral health and disease. Unexplained gingival inflammation can be rooted in what our patients consume daily and can be a small indication of a larger inflammatory issue in the body. The...

Understanding the Therapeutic Dental Applications of Botox

Patients often tell dental professionals how much they do not care for their dental visits. For that reason, dentistry continually searches for ways to improve the patient experience with the most pain-free and minimally invasive treatment options. Botox may be commonly associated with smoothing wrinkles, but the treatments are well-positioned to become the standard of care with multiple dental...

Interviewing During a Dental Hygienist Shortage: An Opportunity for Change

Many changes in the dental profession have occurred in recent years, notably a dental workforce shortage already in progress before 2020 that became exacerbated by a pandemic. While a workforce shortage places pressure on dentistry, it also allows for growth and change within those dental professions. Dentists are investing in employee retention, and dental auxiliary staff is taking the opportunity...

Is Community Water Fluoridation Necessary?

There are few other terms in dentistry that can provoke a debate the way the word “fluoride” does. Despite the CDC deeming community water fluoridation as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, petitions to remove fluoride from drinking water sources and pushback on implementing community water fluoridation (CWF) is not uncommon. This is...

Identifying Human Trafficking in the Dental Setting

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, second only to drugs as the world’s largest criminal activity. The United Nations defines trafficking in human beings as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, detection, abuse of power or position of...

Green Dentistry: How to Lower your Practice’s Environmental Footprint

Have you ever thought about the amount of waste a dental practice produces? It can be hard to ignore when a large part of our day is dedicated to cleaning and changing over rooms for the next patient. For the sake of time efficiency and maximizing cleanliness, disposable barriers, single-use products, and chemical-laden cleaning agents have become essential. However,...

Interdisciplinary Care: Considerations for the Dental Management of Patients with Dysphagia

The profession of dental hygiene is continuously evolving to address the needs of varying populations through medical-dental integration and increased access to care. Currently, a need exists to facilitate discussion and promote increased collaboration between speech-language pathologists, oral health professionals, and other health care professionals involved in the management of patients with dysphagia. Dental interventions provided to patients with dysphagia...

Not So Hard to See: Nanoparticles Surface in Dental Hygiene Products

Sixty years ago, Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman made a speech to the American Physical Society concerning manufacturing at the dimension of atoms and molecules.  He spoke about the many inventive possibilities that may follow and encouraged the creation of methods for measurement and manufacturing at nanoscale levels. That speech was the beginning of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Since then,...

HIPAA: Do Dental Professionals Fully Understand ‘Protected Health Information?’

Decades after the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was first introduced, it is still one of the most misunderstood federal health laws in effect, including within dentistry. Prior to HIPAA, no generally accepted set of security standards or general requirements for protecting health information existed for health care. Recent events concerning vaccination requirements for employment have...

Mouth Taping: Viral Fad or Evidence-Based Treatment for Mouth Breathing?

Social media has increased dental patients' exposure to many trends, ranging from cleaning hacks to home health remedies. While some information can be helpful and improve a person's quality of life, other trends may end up causing harm. Dental professionals need to stay up to date and prepared to best inform patients on the viability and safety of popular...

Peroxide Use in Dentistry: Is it Safe for Oral Health Care?

Every so often, a patient will admit to rinsing regularly with undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide. If you’re anything like me, your mind immediately envisions a thick, black, carpet-like tongue coating in the near future. Thankfully, peroxides have been used safely in dentistry since first introduced in 1913 as a treatment for “pyorrhea.”4 When used in a controlled manner, peroxides...

Reviewing the Relationship of Mental Health with Dental Hygiene Care

Dentistry can be associated with anxiety, phobias, and acute stress. Conversely, these psychological disorders can be associated with dental diseases such as erosion, caries, and periodontal disease.5 Stress, anxiety, and depression may negatively affect the catabolic and anabolic pathways the body uses to react and adjust to reestablish homeostasis. The body’s response to stress is to activate the sympathetic...

Oral Piercing, Tattooing: RDHs Can Help Inform Patients about Body Modifications

Self-expression comes in many forms, including body modifications such as tattoos and piercings. Intraoral or perioral piercings and tattoos are more popular than ever. The awareness of how these changes may affect oral health, however, is minimal. Dental hygienists can help answer patient questions concerning oral modifications, provide information about associated risks, and educate on after-care for the best...

Erythritol: The Other Sugar Alcohol

The sugar alcohol family, known as polyols, have become popular in chewing gums, lozenges, and dental hygiene products due to their unique ability to add sweetness and improve oral health. Introduced in 1970, xylitol has recently been at the forefront of the discussion with benefits backed by extensive research. It has been incorporated into many dental hygiene products across...

Considerations for the Management of Geriatric Patients

The United States has a growing demographic of older adults, those 65 years of age and older, who are increasingly becoming a large part of dental practices. Dental professionals can play an integral part in helping this population to overcome physical, cognitive, and environmental changes; including challenges in relation to their oral health that they may face with aging....

Poked: Protocol Hygienists Must Follow After Dental Sharps Injury

Dental hygienists are among the 5.6 million workers in health care and related occupations who are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material (OPIM) such as saliva in dental procedures.2 Dental professionals handle dental scalers, burs, anesthetic needles, orthodontic wire, and other hazardous materials daily. Dental facilities should have a clear protocol for sharps injuries...