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8 Things You’ll Learn About in Dental School

 

Everyone knows dental hygienists clean teeth. But did you know they also examine patients for signs of disease, provide preventative treatment, and educate people on good oral health? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the amazing things you’ll learn in dental school.

 

Practical Skills

 

Dental hygienists do more than just clean teeth. They examine teeth and gums, chart cavities, place brackets and bands, install arch wires, and take a hands-on role in all kinds of dental procedures. These practical skills are the core of any dental hygienist program.

 

Once you have learned the fundamentals, you’ll begin to apply what you have learned in a mock clinical setting until you’re ready to assist with real patients.

 

Tools of the Trade

 

What's the difference between electric and air-driven handpieces? You’ll know soon. Dental hygienists use a wide range of dental equipment and tools, from simple picks and dental mirrors to high-tech equipment like X-ray machines.

Dental school will teach you to pick the best dental tools for the job.

 

Treating Different Patients

 

No two patients are exactly alike. Different people have different needs when it comes to dental care. In dental school, you’ll learn to provide top-notch treatment to people of all ages and backgrounds. Some schools offer courses focusing on the unique needs of people who are elderly, disabled, or have other barriers to receiving dental treatment.  

 

Human Biology

 

Dental hygienists not only learn the ins and outs of oral anatomy, they also acquire in-depth knowledge of the human body in general. They study various aspects of human biology, right down to the microscopic make-up of tissues and the mechanisms of disease.

 

 

Community Health and Advocacy

 

As members of the dental profession, dental hygienists have a platform to advocate on dental health issues in the community. Many dental schools have a course on public health and advocacy, where you learn how to improve access to dental care and spread the word using marketing and mass media.

 

Nutrition

 

Diet plays a huge role in oral health. To help your patients maintain healthy teeth and gums, you must know the science of nutrition. Dental hygienists learn the function of basic nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the body, along with the impact of nutrition and nutritional deficiencies on oral health. By the time you’re finished dental school, you’ll know more about healthy eating than a dedicated health nut!

 

Communication Skills

 

Do you have good people skills? If so, you’ll have a leg-up in the dental profession. If not, dental school will help you catch up! Dental hygienists often spend more time speaking with patients than dentists do, and they teach patients to maintain and develop good dental habits. With good communication skills, you can help make the dental office experience more comfortable and beneficial to patients.

 

Yourself

 

Dental school is no walk in the park. Mastering the practical skills takes a great deal of physical strength, endurance, and manual dexterity. Your science courses will demand hours of reading and dedicated studying, testing your ability to analyze problems and think critically. However, at the end of this long road lies a career full of potential! Going through the rigors of dental school will help you discover whether the dental profession is right for you, and if so, what role you want to play within it.

 

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Ergonomics in the Dental Office: Helping to Ensure You Remain Healthy and Comfortable

 

There has a lot of news recently about the injuries office workers can face if they do not have the proper ergonomic equipment available to them. Proper chairs, monitor height, and stretching exercises are just a few of the recommendations.

 

However, ergonomics is important in many professions, including dental practices.

 

Patients likely do not realize just how much physical work is involved on a daily basis for hygienists. However, the hygienists themselves soon come to realize the hard way when aches, pains, and nagging discomfort make themselves known.

 

Hygienist Jamie Collins, RDH, CDA, recently wrote about this subject for Dentistry IQ, covering the commonly known ailment nicknamed “hygiene hip.”

 

Aches and Pains

 

For most people, adjustments and medical appointments follow discomfort. Jamie admits this was also the case for her, but points out hygienists should follow the example set by dental schools and practice prevention.

 

After all, once discomfort sets in, it means your body is ailing.

 

Sometimes, these aches and pains indicate that issues are no longer reversible. You don’t want to spend all that time learning your craft only to find yourself in need of a career change because your body is ailing.

 

Hygiene Hip

 

As you likely know from your day-to-day duties, you often must spend time in unnatural positions, particularly if the patient complains about the angle you have them on. This increases your danger of hip injuries, and raises the possibility of upper and lower back, neck, and wrist issues.

 

Musculoskeletal Disorders

 

Have you started to experience problems like this? Chances are, you have.

Jamie points out that 64-93% of dental workers suffer from some kind of work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder. Stiffness, soreness, hip popping; are all signs of MSD, and indicators that you need to make some modifications.

 

Change Your Chair

 

How long have you had your operator chair? It is crucial for your body to have proper positioning throughout the day. If your current chair has become misshapen, or was not the best product to begin with, it is time to invest in a new saddle stool to improve your work posture. If the dentist is not willing to cover the cost, consider digging deep and buying the stool yourself. It beats spending time and money at the chiropractor and many uncomfortable days and nights.

 

Proper magnification and Instrumentation

 

Don’t forget the other equipment you work with. The better the magnification of the oral cavity, the less you have to bend, so consider adding a personal light to your loupes.

 

Practice preventive maintenance with your instruments. Sharp instruments decrease treatment time and physical strain, and a cordless handpiece helps to reduce possible wrist fatigue.

 

Breaks and Exercise

 

Frequent breaks help to prevent muscle fatigue, which leads to poor posture and discomfort. Practice stretching exercises during your shift, and be sure to exercise off the job. Pilates and yoga are very helpful, but Jamie emphasizes the key is to take time for your body and listen to its needs. Being comfortable aids productivity, which improves performance and the quality of care you can provide for your clients.

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Three Innovative Ways to Calm Your Patient

 

Some people find a trip to the dentist quite stressful. This can stem from anxiety, an unpleasant experience with another practitioner, or even a dental accident they saw in a movie or television show. Let’s face it—the thought of a stranger having access to an intimate part of the body can spook some individuals.

 

 

Many practitioners already take steps to offer the most relaxing and professional atmosphere possible to allay such fears. However, a recent study by Deva Priya Appukuttan offers additional suggestions on how to help clients struggling with dental phobia and a subsequent failure to maintain oral health through regular appointments.

 

Here are three of the main points the author discussed.

 

Get to Know Your Clients

 

When a practice first accepts clients, they answer a series of questions relating to their medical history, insurance, etc. Appukuttan suggests it is also wise to consider a semi-structured interview. This calm, informal conversation would allow the practitioner to learn more about situations causing fear and/or anxiety. The dentist or staff member could unobtrusively guide the conversation using open-ended questions, rather than direct and potentially off-putting queries.

 

In addition to learning what situations may cause issues, the dentist might also determine such fears are part of a wider psychological issue and recommend the person to seek out a therapist. This mental health professional may work directly with the dentist to design an approach to help the patient overcome their worries.

 

Anxiety Questionnaire

 

In addition to the medical questionnaire mentioned above, practitioners can also offer a second one dedicated to anxiety issues patients sometimes experience. This would act as a confidential way for nervous clients to self-report using a series of questions and a scale mirroring the person’s anxiety. For example, when asked about having a cavity filled, a “1” could mean little worry and a “5” could show great worry.

 

The dentist could use this knowledge to categorize patients and approach them accordingly. Starting a dialogue in this fashion can help avoid unexpected issues during the moments of a procedure where such an interruption could be problematic.

 

Building Trust

 

The rapport dental professionals build with their clients is very important. A busy practice often reduces the amount of time a practitioner can spend with patients, which is unfortunate, as it can lead to an increase in anxiety for some.

 

Taking the time to listen, answer questions, and map out each step in the procedure can go a long way in reducing a client’s fear. This opportunity to make inquiries and spell out any concerns will increase the person’s respect for the practitioner. It is important to acknowledge it is not unusual to experience some anxiety before a procedure. Make eye contact, avoid any negative word choices, and emphasize you are here to help. All questions are valid; provide detailed responses demonstrating your interest and desire to do a thorough and professional job.

 

Maintain this dialogue while performing the procedure. Keep the client informed of what you are doing and what the next step will be. Also, ask whether they are experiencing any discomfort and reassure them they are doing well. Be honest and straightforward.

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4 Behind The Scenes Tasks Dental Hygienists Do

 

When you visit your dentist’s office, you expect one of the dental hygienists to greet you in the waiting area and bring you to the exam room. It is customary for them to make conversation with you, floss your teeth, conduct a dental cleaning, and then call in the dentist.

 

Dental Hygienist

 

Dental hygienists spend a large portion of their workdays in front of patients, primarily cleaning, polishing, and scaling the patient’s teeth. Most people, if asked what dental hygienists do all day, will likely give that as a response. However, there are also some tasks they perform either completely behind the scenes or some that patients simply do not notice during their appointment. Keep reading for the reveal of the four most significant behind the scenes tasks dental hygienists perform during their daily duties.

 

Checking Facial Expressions

 

When the dentist is checking your teeth, they are wearing what is essentially a powerful magnifying glass on their eyes. This allows them to really look closely at your teeth and determine things such as cavities, signs of gum disease, et cetera. However, it also prevents them from really seeing your face and facial expressions, which makes them blind to any winces and other signs of discomfort. In many instances, the dental hygienists often observe the patient’s facial expressions in order to determine if everything is going well. Patients are often too preoccupied to notice dental hygienists commonly do this.

 

Stocking the Office

 

Every dental office needs a vast array of supplies, including surgical masks, protective gloves, glasses, and the tools used to perform cleanings, suction, et cetera. How do all these supplies and equipment stay in the required quantities at the dental office? This duty often falls to dental hygienists, who stock up the exam rooms and office as a whole when they are not working directly with a patient.

 

Cleaning the Exam Room

 

It is necessary to clean exam rooms and sanitize all the tools before a new patient enters for their dental appointment. After all, a dental office is a medical environment. So who cleans the exam rooms in between patients? This is where the dental hygienists come in. In many instances, they have their own exam room for patients, which they will clean and sanitize before bringing another patient back. This usually includes cleaning the chair and the glasses used, plus disinfecting the dental tools (or replacing them with new ones while they undergo additional cleaning).

 

Reviewing History and Charts

 

Your primary doctor will often rely on your medical record, which includes notes from past appointments as well as details on any vaccinations you may have received. Your tooth records are just as important to a dentist. In fact, you may actually need to provide information from your overall medical history to the dentist and dental hygienist. Such information can include any medication you might be taking, surgeries you have had, allergies, et cetera. The task of reviewing and updating patient history and charts, including ensuring updated x-rays are in the file, almost always falls to the dental hygienists.

 

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Post-Surgical Home Care Tips

 

Your ordeal in the dental chair may be over, but treatment doesn’t end when you leave the office. Proper post-surgical care at home is a critical step towards good oral health. Follow these post-surgical home care tips to hit the smoothest road to recovery after dental surgery.

 

DentalExam

 

Knowing What to Expect

 

Every procedure is different. Even relatively minor surgeries, like dental implants and tooth pulling, require proper after-care to heal well.

 

Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about post-surgical home care before you go in for surgery. They may advise you to adjust your normal routine, change your diet, or refrain from certain activities to give yourself time to heal. If you know what to expect, you can prepare these arrangements in advance and jump straight to recovery after the dental surgery is over.

 

Helping Incisions Heal

 

Every procedure is different. Even relatively minor surgeries, like dental implants and tooth pulling, require proper after-care to heal well.

 

Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about post-surgical home care before you go in for surgery. They may advise you to adjust your normal routine, change your diet, or refrain from certain activities to give yourself time to heal. If you know what to expect, you can prepare these arrangements in advance and jump straight to recovery after the dental surgery is over.

 

Once the bleeding stops, follow these tips to help the wound heal:

  • Brush and floss carefully around the incision.
  • Wait 24 hours, the rinse your mouth gently with a mixture of salt and water, not mouthwash!
  • Avoid drinking ay warm liquids, like tea or coffee.
  • Don`t drink anything through a straw, as this can dislodge the blood clot.
  • Never touch the incision with your fingers!

If the wound continues to bleed for more than four hours after the surgery, contact your dentist or oral surgeon.

 

Relieving a Sore Jaw

 

Having a stiff, sore jaw is a common complaint after oral surgery. In most cases, your jaw will feel better after a few days of rest. It helps to swap out solid foods for something easy to chew, like eggs, pasta, or smoothies. You can gradually re-introduce solid foods into your diet as you recover.

 

Treating Swelling and Bruising

 

Swelling is a normal reaction to many oral surgeries. In some cases, the tissue also bruises for a few days after the swelling goes down.

 

The best way to deal with bruising and swelling depends on the time that has passed since the procedure. In the first 24 hours, you may apply a cold compress to the area for up to ten minutes at a time; after 48 hours, switch to something warm, like a hot water bottle in a towel.

 

Call your dentist or oral surgeon if swelling continues to worsen 48 hours after the surgery, or persists for longer than a week.

 

Following Expert Advice on Post-Surgical Home Care

 

While these post-surgical home care tips are useful for most oral surgery, your dentist has the last word. Always follow their directions when it comes to after-care, and ask them if you have any questions or concerns about your recovery. Be sure to attend any follow-up appointments to confirm you’re on the right track.

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5 Software Solutions for a Busy Dentist Office

 

Dentist Computer Software

 

Gone are the days when a sole practitioner could know clients by name and store their information in a single file cabinet. Most dental hygiene offices have many patients and sometimes multiple practitioners and hygienists.

 

However, even smaller practices have a duty to ensure the most accurate record keeping and efficient customer service possible.

 

Computer software solutions help to make that possible and there are a number of excellent packages designed specifically to meet the needs of the dental health community.

 

Here are five such software solutions especially good for use in a busy practice:

 

Curve Dental

 

One of the main concerns of any practice with mounds of data is computer reliability. What if your hard drive crashes and you don’t have a back-up of your patient data?

 

Cloud storage is an excellent remedy and Curve Dental allows practitioners to send digital images from an array of devices directly to the cloud. That way, if disaster should strike, you need not worry about the practice’s most important resource. Curve’s easy-to-use software also offers efficient options for charting, scheduling, credit card processing, billing, and online patient forms.

 

Ace Dental

 

Practice management can be overwhelming without the right program to keep everything organized and accessible. There are a number of options to choose from here, but Ace Dental offers more features than most of them. Fortunately, ease of use is one of this program’s strongest assets.

 

Patient records are a snap to retrieve, and the system provides other pertinent data with little more than a single mouse click per inquiry. Your appointment schedule also has all of the necessary treatment details included. This safeguards against confusion over who is appearing at what time, and what they require. Ace also makes the organization and sending of insurance claims simple, and that allows administrative staff to devote their shift time to other important duties.

 

Denticon

 

Denticon is another cloud-based option that offers excellent storage and retrieval options. It assists with both administrative and clinical treatment components, providing ample room for the inclusion of detailed patient treatment histories and insurance details.

 

In a nice touch, Denticon helps to revive a bit of the old-time service feel from days past. Practitioners can include personalized messages on patient statements that provide handy reminders of treatment methods or other important details discussed during appointments. It also incorporates a number of other useful features, and solid security ensures patient confidentiality.

 

Dentrix

 

Some dental procedures require patients to use medication for a period afterward. Keeping track of such information is tricky, but Dentrix streamlines things and makes the sending and tracing of prescriptions much easier.

 

The program also offers a flexible and efficient practice management system that will more than suffice for most office needs and patient rosters.

 

Carestream Dental

 

You would be hard-pressed to find a dental professional not in favor of making digital dental imaging and software more efficient and easy to use. Carestream Dental has risen to that challenge and succeeded by providing a system that meets these needs through greater speed and accuracy.

 

Carestream’s eConnections also helps to consolidate online marketing, appointment reminders, and patient solutions, allowing a practice to consolidate many different responsibilities into a single dashboard.  This makes marketing and return on investment decisions much easier to consider.

 

 

Once you have the software side of the business sorted out, don’t forget to address your dental hygiene gear. Using the latest and most effective equipment guarantees that you and your staff deliver the latest in oral health care.

 

Browse our latest catalog or contact our knowledgeable staff to learn more about how Sable Industries can help your practice continue to meet and exceed your patients’ expectations. 

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