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...

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,...

Home Care: Helping the Dental Patient Develop Lasting Oral Health Habits

As rewarding as a dental hygiene career can be, there will always be challenges. One of the biggest frustrations in dental hygiene practice is patients’ non-compliance with home care instructions. It is important to figure out what is holding them back. Possibilities could include the lack of skill or dexterity, not understanding the instructions given, or simply not valuing their...

Mental Health: Dental Hygienists’ Skills Can Help Patients

Dental hygienists are likely to encounter individuals who are living with serious mental illness, including people who may be at risk for suicide.1 Medical history and verbal disclosures shared with dental hygienists may include details about antipsychotic and antidepressant medications or symptoms and a history of mental illness and/or substance use, including tobacco. Friends, family, and the healthcare team need...

Radiation Protection: Ensuring Low Risks with Dental Exposures

Substantial evidence demonstrates a significant increase in the use of medical imaging. Computerized tomography and ionizing radiation imaging have improved medicine and dentistry in many ways. The ability to use digital imaging has eliminated many invasive exploratory procedures. Medical professionals can more easily diagnose many conditions and diseases. A statement by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) declared, “The...

Prenatal Care: Dentistry’s Involvement throughout Pregnancy

The oral-systemic link in health care is being discussed more than ever. Our mouths are the opening to our entire body, and inflammation in the oral cavity can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including during pregnancy. Many lifelong habits are created during pregnancy, and oral care should be one of them. From 2007 through 2009, approximately 56% of pregnant...

Habit Shift: Getting Dental Patients Back on Track after Lockdown

The pandemic has been rough for most people, and many routines and habits have been dramatically altered or dropped altogether. While many people are returning to the office, some have been trying to adapt to their "new normal." Many dental patients who worked from home were rolling out of bed and going down the hall to their computer and...

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...

How Small Gestures Can Help with Apprehensive Patients

We have all had that patient, the one that is terrified of being at the dentist. They look terrified from the moment you call their name and ask them to head to the back. These overwhelmed patients, in all their fear, don’t realize how their stress can affect you, as a clinician. How do you handle them? These patients...

Telomeres: Dental Hygienists Can Influence Patients’ Longevity

When you hear about someone living into their 90s, you immediately think what a wonderful success of life. Isn't longevity the goal? If you speak to many seniors living into their 90s, they may feel it's not all that it's cracked up to be. Many of us want to live a long life, enjoying our family and friends, but...

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