The Magic of Ethics when Patients Decline Fluoride

Once upon a dental chair, a magical hygienist once turned every quick “no” on fluoride into a golden and exuberant “YES!” At least in fairy tales… In reality, patients don’t always say “yes,” and hygienists are often faced with some who are emphatic in their “no” response. So, what magic exists to break through the spell of such a...

Medical History: Your Patient is Not Telling You Everything

We’ve all heard it before when questioning a patient about their medical history, “There is no change.” Patients are so quick to tell us no change or that nothing pertains to their teeth in regards to their medical history. Little do these patients know their medical history is a big key to unlocking their dental health care assessment and...

The First Line of Defense Against Oral Cancer

Truth be told, cancer in its many forms has touched the lives of almost every single person I know. No one is safe from a cancer diagnosis. Countless children have been left without their parents, and countless parents have been left without answers. So many of us that have lost someone to cancer walk the desolate halls of grief;...

True Confession of a Less Than Ideal Bitewing

What’s your hygiene moment when you realize you have had an epic fail? Hopefully, none of you will ever have that experience, but I did, and I am on a mission to never let it happen again. Here’s the scenario, the patient presents for routine care. It’s a great appointment - everything status quo; health history reviewed, oral cancer...

The Education Process of Prophylaxis vs. Scaling and Root Planing

Note: This is Part 3 of Debbi Viger’s series, Special Needs: Everyone Has Special Needs. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Why do some patients have such a difficult time wrapping their head around the difference between a traditional, preventive “cleaning” and treatment for disease? Every hygienist goes through this at some point, trying desperately to explain prophylaxis vs....

Bridging the Gap between Medicine and Dentistry

The question, “What does my blood pressure have to do with my teeth?” is likely one dental hygienists who take blood pressure have heard. As dental hygienists, we realize the simple answer to this question is a lot; specifically safety while under our treatment and overall health of the patient. Many clinicians have had cases of referring a patient...

How to Recognize the Most Common Complications of Dental Implants

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, 500,000 dental implants are placed in the United States annually.1 As dental hygienists, the number of patients we treat who have at least one dental implant will increase. For this reason, it is important for dental hygienists to become familiar with dental implants from both restorative and preventive aspects. We need to...

How to Discuss Periodontal Disease & Lung/Colon Cancer with Patients

When patients usually think of cancer in a dental setting, the initial thought is oral cancer. As a hygienist, I incorporate an intraoral cancer screening on every patient, examining the tissues of the oral cavity and looking for anything abnormal. Occasionally, a patient will comment, “Doesn’t oral cancer only happen when you use tobacco?” This is an opportunity to...

Why Home Care Should Be Flexible about Recommended Oral Hygiene Regimens

How many times have your impeccable scaling skills and topnotch, by-the-book oral hygiene recommendations and demonstrations resulted in an exhausting six-month recare appointment? The fact that plaque and calculus reinfest some mouths in six to eleven weeks (and sometimes less) sets us up for failure if we over-focus on scaling and under-focus on the cause of the biofilm reinfestation. Scaling...

The Importance of Knowing a Patient’s Health History (And How to Simplify the Process)

At my current office, I am probably considered a health history nag, but I am okay with that! I would prefer to be known for this because patients are then actively involved in their dental care when they participate in updating their health history at EVERY appointment. When hygienists involve patients this way, we are able to educate patients...

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