Xerostomia and Periodontal Disease: How to Customize Your Treatment Approaches

Xerostomia can be described as a “subjective sensation of oral dryness”1 with numerous causes. The most common are as a side effect from certain medications, Sjogren’s syndrome and other autoimmune disorders, and radiation therapy.1 Older patients are generally taking more medications, and so we tend to see xerostomia in this population more frequently than any other. However, anyone taking medications...

5 Step Implant Assessment

Implants are becoming commonplace in our patients, and we need to know how to care for them in office and for patient instruction. At one time, patients presented with bridges; we now know that cutting down healthy opposing teeth to give patients a biting surface is old school and that asking patients to clean under a bridge was wishful...

Why Hygienists Should Take the Blood Pressure of EVERY Patient

Let me ask you a question: how many of you take blood pressure readings on your patients before beginning treatment? For those of you who take blood pressure readings on your patients, bravo to you! You have my respect; you may now skip the rest of this article, pass Go, and collect $200. But for those of you who...

Active Reflective Listening: Improving Communication Between Dental Patients and Staff

Have you ever wondered if anyone is actually listening? Do you feel like there is a breakdown of communication somewhere, and this is inhibiting your ability to get your message across to patients, staff members, and maybe even friends and family? I have been there, both as a clinician and a patient, as well as a family member and friend....

New Parents: Five Tips Dental Hygienists Should Be Sharing

Being a first-time parent of an infant can be so overwhelming. Parents are faced with sleepless nights, unorthodox feeding schedules, consecutive diaper changes, colic, spit-up, and everything else that comes with the new parent territory. The health of a child’s teeth can get lost among the many parental responsibilities. Dental hygienists can play a huge role in helping new...

The Boomers: Enhancing the Dental Hygienist’s Communication Skills for the Elders

We all chose dentistry for different reasons. Our technical skills were developed and nurtured throughout college, but communication skills were never a clear focus in our curriculum, as far as I could tell. I think there is always the assumption that we had already developed great “people skills” by the time we entered college. After graduation, many clinicians realize that...

Relax: Guiding Anxious Dental Patients to Calm Thoughts about Treatment

How many times have you been told by a patient, friend, or family member, “No offense, but I really hate going to the dentist?” Many dental professionals are already desensitized to the offensive statement, as well as other reactions that occur during an appointment. While some level of compartmentalizing is necessary for maintaining control of the treatment environment and...

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...

Are Dental Hygienists Adequately Trained to Care for Implant Patients?

The dental hygiene profession is light years behind on knowledge and the best practices for implant care. In 2012, the Journal of Dental Hygiene published the results of a survey that gauged the knowledge and clinical approach of practicing dental hygienists in respect to dental implant maintenance. Out of the 213 respondents, only 25 said they received training on...

Autoimmune Diseases: Making Sense of Dental Patients’ Complaints

When a patient states that they have an autoimmune disease, I admit that generalizations about the diseases enter my mind, but not the specifics of each disease. While I know that immune function is decreased and good home care is especially needed, it may be just enough to know what to look for during the appointment. However, patients will voice...

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