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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 travel in her spare time.

A Dental Hygienist’s Refresher on Tuberculosis

One of the most important aspects of an appointment is reviewing health histories with patients.  Every dental hygienist has experienced that moment, where one checked box sends our minds searching for the right questions to determine if it is safe to proceed with treatment for both the patient and ourselves. Tuberculosis tends to be one of those recurring conversation topics...

Scleroderma: How Dental Hygienists Can Approach Oral Symptoms

Scleroderma is an autoimmune connective tissue and rheumatic disease that causes inflammation in the skin and other areas of the body, including the face and mouth. Oral manifestations of scleroderma may directly affect a person's ability to maintain optimal oral health. Dental hygienists may be the first health care provider to note scleroderma. Early detection, medical referral, and treatment are...

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...

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,...

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 the pivotal role nutrition can play 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...

A Dental Hygienists’ Refresher on Periodontal Probing

Dental hygienists learn early on that the periodontal probe is essentially our greatest tool in the assessment of periodontal health. Periodontal probing creates a record of health or disease over time that dental hygienists can reference to, evaluate healing, or determine the possible need to implement a more aggressive treatment plan. Including dental radiographs, a complete periodontal evaluation allows...

The Amazing Oral Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Cooler weather, colorful leaves, and warm drinks around a fire are some of the indications that autumn has arrived, but none are more emblematic than the appearance of pumpkin-inspired treats and décor over-flowing from store shelves. Many sweet treats that come to mind may not strike you as dental hygiene-friendly, but the pumpkin is surprisingly good for your oral...

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...

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...

Salivary Diagnostics Can Help Bridge Systemic Health for Dental Hygienists

In dentistry, saliva has traditionally been more of a nuisance than anything else. Dental hygienists know the constant struggle of trying to keep patients from choking during a prophy or attempting to keep a tooth dry when placing a sealant. Yet, what if saliva holds the key to integrating medicine and dentistry? Salivary diagnostics is an insightful tool that dental...