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How to Ask for a Raise as a Dental Hygienist

 

You know it just as well as I ‒ dental hygienists provide pivotal, foundational services that keep a dental practice thriving. We work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of our patients and work functionally alongside dentists and other dental professionals.

 

In some ways, you could say that we’re the face of the dental field.

 

So, do we deserve a raise?

 

Yes!

 

Not sure where to start or how to approach your boss about asking for a pay raise? Below, I’ve listed a few suggestions that I’ve picked up over the years from other veteran hygienists. All of these will help you to put your best foot forward when it’s time to have that all-important conversation!

 

1. Understand Your Contributions

Blindly asking for a raise won’t get you far, but conducting a thorough “self-review” before requesting a meeting with your boss will help you build a foundation for a powerful argument.

 

As hygienists, we spend our days caring for each of our patients while assuaging their fears, guiding them toward better oral health, and ensuring that their experience in the dental chair is a positive one. With all this in mind, it’s easy to forget that our practices are businesses, too!

 

Examine how you contribute to the overall functioning of the practice as a business, and use these facts to defend your request for a pay raise.

 

2. Back Yourself Up

Never underestimate the power of backing up your request with the facts.

 

Document your increase in production, list the ways that you’ve improved your place of employment, include patient reviews that you’ve collected during your self-review, and let your boss know whether you’re responsible for an increase in returning patients.

 

Provide numbers whenever possible. There's no denying concrete data!

 

3. Consider the Timing

When scheduling your meeting, avoid late afternoon or after-work hours.

 

At the end of the day, both you and your boss are likely to be tired (and maybe even a tad cranky). Not only does this mean you won’t perform at your best, but your request may more easily be shrugged off or flat-out denied. Instead, try for a lunch meeting.

 

Also, consider aligning this conversation with annual reviews or your anniversary as an employee, but don’t ask for a raise if your office has just invested in some new, expensive equipment! If this is the case, wait a bit.

 

4. Have Some Numbers in Mind

Your boss is likely to be more responsive to your request for a raise if you’ve already considered the increase you’re looking for.

 

Don’t put them in a difficult spot by requesting a raise and leaving the numbers completely up to them. Instead, requesting a specific increase will not only move the process along more smoothly but also open the door for further discussion and negotiation.

 

Balance is key here. By asking for too much, you risk appearing self-important and unprofessionally unrealistic. However, don’t ask for so little that you’re not fighting for what you deserve!

 

It may be helpful to use your increase in production as a guide.

 

5. Be Thankful

There’s a lot to be said for an attitude that’s balanced with both confidence and humility.

 

While it’s important to assert your self-worth, dedicate part of your meeting to emphasize how grateful you are for the opportunities you’ve received as part of the practice. Let your boss know that you’re always looking for ways to give back and make the office a better place.

 

You’re asking for the practice to value you, so be sure that you value the practice right back!

 

6. Prepare for Possible Outcomes

In a perfect world, your conscientious request for a raise would be honoured without question.

 

In reality, however, the results of your meeting may not be so simple. Regardless of whether or not you deserve a raise and regardless of how thoroughly you’ve proved your worth to your boss, your request may be declined simply because the office is financially unable to honour your request. This does not mean that your boss doesn’t value your contributions!

 

If you’re denied a raise, you may consider negotiating some non-financial benefits such as equipment upgrades, commute reimbursement, or vacation pay.

 

Above all, remain professional throughout this process; no matter the outcome, take pride in yourself and in your work. If at first you don’t succeed, wait several months and try again!

 

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Geographic Tongue: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

 

Geographic tongue, an inflammatory condition in which red, smooth patches without papillae appear on the surface of the tongue, is generally harmless. However, the pattern of these red patches (often called “islands”) may appear dramatically “geographic” in some patients and cause cosmetic concern. Often, these smooth, red patches will also migrate across the tongue, hence geographic tongue’s other name—benign migratory glossitis.

 

While geographic tongue is obscure enough to be included in the rare disease database of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, it is still estimated to be present in 1% to 3% of the population, meaning that you’ll likely encounter geographic tongue in your own practice.

 

That said, let’s dive into how you might diagnose geographic tongue, some symptoms to be aware of, and the available treatment options.

 

Symptoms of Geographic Tongue

In most cases, geographic tongue is asymptomatic, but the inflammation can become uncomfortable for some patients. Aside from the appearance of physical symptoms, patients with geographic tongue may also experience increased sensitivity or tongue tenderness.

 

Sensations of pain or burning are sometimes reported when those with geographic tongue consume foods and beverages which are spicy or highly acidic.

 

Diagnosing Geographic Tongue

Due to its dramatic, characteristic appearance, diagnosing geographic tongue is typically rather straightforward and can be confirmed with only an outward examination of the tongue—it's the management of this diagnosis which makes your awareness of the condition so important.

 

Understanding Geographic Tongue’s Implications in Overall Health

If geographic tongue is harmless and infrequent, you may be wondering why it’s essential to understand its signs and symptoms in order to make an appropriate diagnosis.

 

As a dental professional, the role you play in the overall well-being of your patients is crucial—by having awareness of geographic tongue and its implications in an individual's overall state of health, you become a valuable contributor to their quality of life.

 

And, while geographic tongue is generally considered idiopathic, ongoing research suggests that it may actually be a manifestation of systemic disease.

 

For example, scientific literature has suggested a relationship between geographic tongue and psoriasis, indicating that geographic tongue could be an oral manifestation of this skin condition. As a result, it’s recommended that general practitioners and dental professionals work together prudently to check for oral symptoms in psoriatic patients and to check for skin lesions in otherwise healthy individuals diagnosed with geographic tongue.

 

Others have posited that geographic tongue might be caused by vitamin B deficiency or irritation from alcohol or particular foods. For reasons we don’t yet understand, geographic tongue appears less frequently in people who smoke and more commonly in those with allergies.

 

In other cases, however, geographic tongue manifests in otherwise healthy individuals, complicating the search for a direct cause or consistent association with other diagnoses.

 

Treatment

It’s critical that you partner with a patient’s other healthcare providers in order to suggest appropriate management, especially when the patient experiences physical discomfort or anxiety surrounding geographic tongue.

 

For example, you might recommend rinsing with lukewarm saltwater, alkaline rinses, or anesthetic rinses to provide relief for mild cases of geographic tongue, or you may suggest that a patient follow up with their dermatologist if you suspect that their geographic tongue may be linked to a skin condition like psoriasis.

 

It has also been reported that some psoriasis patients who utilize systemic treatments have found improvement in their oral health and symptoms of geographic tongue, too.

 

Your Role as a Dental Professional

While we don’t fully understand the reasons why geographic tongue occasionally manifests, your prudence in identifying this condition during routine dental hygiene appointments and examinations can make all the difference in how a patient manages their overall health.

 

In addition to taking a complete medical history from patients with geographic tongue, it is also of value for dental professionals to provide sympathy and knowledgeable reassurance, given that the sometimes-severe appearance of geographic tongue lesions may lead patients to believe that there is something seriously wrong.

 

Remain aware of your duty to consult with their other providers and be prepared to provide information in order to educate the concerned patient. Your contributions will lead not only to better oral health but also to improved overall wellness.

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How Proper Lubrication Can Extend the Lifespan of Any Dental Handpiece

As a dental professional, your handpiece is one of your single most important tools of the trade. You’d like to keep this trusted instrument performing good-as-new for as long as possible.

 

Unfortunately, handpiece maintenance isn’t always as simple as the sales brochure makes it out to be. Keeping a handpiece in top shape requires that you follow a strict regimen of cleaning and lubrication. That’s a lot to ask of anyone in a fast-paced, fully-booked dental practice.

 

Wish there was a way to extend the life of your favourite handpiece and spend less time on maintenance?  It could be easier than you think, if you choose your maintenance supplies wisely.

 

Why Your Handpiece Lubricant Makes a Difference 

As you know, cleaning and lubrication are the cornerstones of basic handpiece maintenance.

 

Handpieces must be cleaned after each use (even between sterilizations) to avoid cross-contamination, and daily lubrication is necessary to keep the turbine, air motor, shank and head in good working order.

 

It is important to follow cleaning with lubrication, as the abrasives found in handpiece cleaners can get into the mechanisms of the handpiece.

 

Today, many clinics use automatic handpiece maintenance systems to lubricate multiple handpieces simultaneously. However, lubricating a handpiece manually is relatively simple:

 

Disassemble the handpiece and remove the burr so you can reach its internal components.


Inject lubricant into the air drive port so that it reaches the turbine.


Lubricate both ends of the contra-angle, or remove the cylinder from the prophy angle and lubricate both ends.


Re-assemble the handpiece and operate, head down, for 10-30 seconds (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) without a burr to purge excess lubricant.
Wipe any excess lubricant remaining on the handpiece using a dry gauze pad or paper towel.

 

10 Tips to Extend the Life of Any Dental Handpiece

Proper lubrication is essential to getting the most life and the best possible performance from any dental handpiece.

 

Here are a few pointers on choosing a handpiece lubricant that can help you minimize downtime, reduce the frequency of repairs and avoid unnecessary costs while extending your tool’s lifespan.

 

Lubricate the Handpiece Chuck Separately

The handpiece chuck generally requires separate care and a direct dose of lubricant.

 

Lubricate Before Sterilization, Not After

A high-quality handpiece lubricant like Sable EZ Lube will not break down in autoclaving temperature or otherwise be affected by the sterilization process. Lubrication prior to autoclaving has also been shown to increase the longevity of air-turbine handpiece bearings.

 

Avoid Overlubricating Low-Speed Handpieces

Applying too much lubricant to a low-speed motor can saturate it and cause it to become sluggish.

 

Use a Product That Cleans And Lubricants At Once

This saves you valuable time when it comes to preparing your handpiece for sterilization. We’ve developed Sable EZ Lube to remove dirt and stains from handpiece surfaces while it lubricates.

 

Don’t Lubricate ‘Lube-Free’ Turbine Bearings

Certain Kavo and Star Dental handpiece turbines are not designed for direct lubrication.

 

Use a Food-Grade Handpiece Lubricant

We know that a handpiece can discharge lubricant in the direction of the bur for some 40 minutes after lubrication. Using a food-grade synthetic lubricant will ensure that this will not affect your patients.

 

Never Use Any Non-Dental Lubricant For Your Handpiece

Safety comes first! Non-dental lubricants may not be safe for your patients or good for your handpiece. Sable EZ Lube was developed in conjunction with Aerospace Lubricants Inc. specifically for dental handpieces.

 

Always Follow the Handpiece Manufacturer’s Instructions
Maintenance standards can vary between different manufacturers, and in different models from the same manufacturer.


Use The Adapter That Corresponds Your Coupling System
This will ensure that you deliver the right amount of lubricant to the deepest recesses of your handpiece. Our Sable EZ Lube comes in 500ml aerosol cans with nozzles available for most handpieces, including contras, straights, heads and low-speed motors.


Don’t Skimp on the Lubricant!
Your handpiece can’t function properly without proper lubrication!  If cost is a concern, there are affordable handpiece lubricants on the market. Sable EZ Lube is affordably priced, with cost savings of 20-30% over other top lubricant brands.

 

Have any questions about our handpiece lubricants? Get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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8 Fun Dental History Facts You Didn't Learn in Hygiene School

 

Dentistry is as noble a profession as it gets, filled with some of the most caring people on earth. Still...it’s always taken a special kind of human to look someone in the eye, tell them to open wide and then courageously yank their teeth out! 

 

Visiting the dentist is no longer something most people lose sleep over...however, the same cannot be said of decades gone by. The age-old practice of the tooth has changed so much thanks to modern medicine and state of the art machinery. Dentistry has not always been so painless!

 

Let’s dig in to the long, rich and occasionally painful history of dentistry, including a few fun facts you probably didn’t learn in hygiene school.

 

1. Barbers Used to Double as Dentists

These gentlemen were known as barber-surgeons. It may seem quite barbaric to have the local barber extracting teeth and bloodletting, but it made sense in the medieval times, since it left more doctors available to attend to the war wounded.

 

Nothing quite like getting your wisdom teeth carved out with the same blade you were just shaved with!

 

2. Ornamenting Teeth Was All the Rage

The ancient Mayans used to bejewel their teeth by chipping at them and embedding small gemstones with glue. Although the outcome would be a dazzling and mesmerizing smile, the process was certainly not for the faint of heart.

 

In the industry today, this ancient practice by the Mayans isn’t too far from the modern practice of bejeweling your teeth...without the gruesome chipping part, of course. Nowadays, they’re called tooth gems, which some people use to give an extra shine to their smile.

 

3. Ever Wondered Where Toothbrushes Came From?

The need to maintain dental hygiene is not a 21st century phenomenon. In ancient times, people would snap a supple twig and chew the edges to spread out the fibers. Even today, some people prefer the twig toothbrush over the conventional toothbrush.

 

The Europeans used a rag and salt or soot for brushing their teeth until the English inventor William Addis invented toothbrush. This was in 1780 but by 1498, Chinese artisans had invented the toothbrush as we know it by using animal hair as bristles.

 

If you’re feeling naturally inclined to use a twig toothbrush, then you can consider trying a twig from the toothbrush tree.

 

4. Anesthesia Was Gross and Ineffective

Archigenes was a tooth doctor back in 15 A.D Rome. His idea of anesthesia for dental works was ointment made from hair-raising ingredients including roasted earthworms, spikenard and spider's crushed eggs. He would drill into your tooth then apply the ointment to relieve pain.

 

It’s hard to imagine that ointment would actually reduce pain, yet it was widely used ‒ maybe the sheer shock of having dead spider babies smeared on your gums was enough to kill the pain?

 

5. The Electric Chair and Teeth Have a Lot in Common

What does an electric chair have to do with teeth? Well, luckily not much...other than the fact that the inventor of the electric chair was also a dentist by profession and a professor who taught dental medicine at the then-University of Buffalo School of dental medicine in New York. 

 

The good news is that he invented the electric chair in the mid 1800s specifically for the purpose of execution and not dentistry. It’s a mild relief knowing that Southwick had no intention of experimenting the efficacy of electric current on tooth cavities.

 

6. Dentist Power Drills Were Powered By Feet

You might know that the dentist attending to the first president of the United States, George Washington, invented a foot engine to power his dentist's drill.

 

What you might not have known is that he used his mother’s spinning wheel making it into a torque to power the drill!

 

7. Dentistry Was a Lonely Profession

Until the year 1960, dentists were expected to do everything while attending to their patients. They would handle every procedure and tool on their own with no assistance! The result was weary and lonely dentists. 

 

This continued until four-handed dentistry was introduced, providing two extra hands (and a lot of camaraderie!) to help.

 

8. Tooth Decay Was Caused By Worms!

...Just kidding! Of course that was never true. But for a time, that’s what people really believed. 

 

After all, worms drill holes, and tooth decay is characterized by holes in teeth. This was a logical conclusion at the time. This old explanation for tooth decay was so believable it carried on in many cultures until the 1900s.

 

Today, we’re thankful for miracles like Novacaine and other tools and treatments that make your life (and the lives of your patients) easier. But we should also be thankful reflecting back on the dentists of old. Though they may have been misguided at times, they’re the ones who made it possible for us to offer the quality of care we can today!

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Treating Patients with Thyroid Disease as a Dental Hygienist

Thyroid conditions present oral and systemic manifestations that can challenge even the most seasoned dental professionals. Up to 15% of the general population has some form of thyroid abnormality, and many people have never been properly diagnosed - which makes treating them all the more complicated.

 

As a registered dental hygienist, there are ways you can help to identify and manage the oral manifestations of thyroid diseases. Here, we’ll discuss two of the most common thyroid diseases you’ll see in your practice: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

 

Oral Manifestations of Hypothyroidism

 

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive or low thyroid, is a decrease in the hormone production and functioning of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism most often affects women from middle age onward, but it can occur in people of any age.

 

Many people who have hypothyroidism present only a few or very mild symptoms. However, those with severe hypothyroidism can experience numerous symptoms including slow metabolism, weight gain, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, and puffiness of the face.

 

When treating a dental patient with hypothyroidism, you may notice one or more of the following common oral manifestations:

  • Salivary gland enlargement
  • Compromised periodontal health
  • Glossitis, or inflammation of the tongue marked by soreness, swelling and change in colour

People who experience severe hypothyroidism as a child may present long-term dental and craniofacial manifestations in adulthood, such as:

  • Enamel hypoplasia
  • Micrognathia, or undersized jaw
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thick lips
  • Macroglossia, or oversized tongue

Oral Manifestations of Hyperthyroidism 

 

Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is the unregulated production of thyroid hormones. It is most often called by an immune system disorder called Grave’s Disease and usually affects women under 40, but it can occur in people of all ages.

 

Many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism mirror hypothyroidism in reverse - sensitivity to heat, weight loss, increased cardiac output are common. It can also cause emotional instability, tremors, abnormal heart rate and hypertension.

 

A dental patient who has hyperthyroidism may present the following oral manifestations:

  • Increased susceptibility to periodontal disease and dental caries
  • Enlarged extraglandular thyroid tissue (mainly in the lateral posterior tongue)
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth caused by Sjogren's syndrome

Treating Dental Patients Who Have a Thyroid Disease

 

As a registered dental hygienist, it is important to understand how thyroid dysfunction could affect your patient care.

 

First, you are well-positioned to notice the symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism and aid in early diagnosis. Your keen eye could be what points a patient in the right direction to receiving treatment for their condition.

 

For patients who have confirmed thyroid disease, it’s also important that you and your colleagues deliver care that will help, not harm. Complications can occur from improperly treating dental patients with thyroid disorders.

 

Rebecca Marie Friend, BS, RDH demonstrates this perfectly in a recent column for Today’s RDH. When an elderly patient came in presenting with hypothyroidism, Rebecca took the time to carefully review the patient’s health history and discuss the patient’s medications, including over-the-counter remedies. Not only did this discussion reveal an important oversight by the patient’s doctor, but Rebecca was able to provide the patient with a better understanding of the condition.

 

Rebecca also provides the following recommendations to hygienists and other dental professionals in treating dental patients who present with thyroid disorders.

 

  1. Establish communication with the patient’s endocrinologist and other healthcare providers. This will ensure that you are kept up to date with the patient’s medications and the rest of the healthcare team is aware of the patient’s oral manifestations.
  2. Plan treatment in a way that limits stress and infection. Patients with hypothyroidism are at greater risk of infection due to increased bleeding and delayed wound healing.
  3. Treat the oral manifestations of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism as needed, including periodontal disease, caries and xerostomia.
  4. Conduct an extraoral head and neck examination at each appointment. This will help you detect changes to the patient’s thyroid region.
  5. Be sure to always use a thyroid collar when taking patient X-rays. The thyroid gland is very sensitive to radiation, and excessive exposure is a known risk factor for thyroid conditions.
  6. Help the patient feel comfortable in the chair. People who have hypothyroidism could use a blanket to help keep their legs warm, while those with hyperthyroidism might appreciate you turning the thermostat down a few extra degrees.
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What You Should Be Asking to Find the Best Dental Handpiece Repair Service

Dental handpieces are the bread and butter of any dental office.

 

Imagine a violinist without a violin or a painter without a paintbrush. That is what dental handpieces are to dentists and hygienists.

 

Without them, a dentist couldn’t fully function safely and easily.

 

Every dentist has their own personal preferences to which handpieces they use. The speed, and size and just overall feel of the equipment allows us to feel comfortable in delivering the best possible experience and quality for any patient.

 

But like most things, everyday use can wear down the machinery. Handpieces are investments and so their repairs shouldn’t be brushed aside.

 

What should you ask when your handpieces are wearing down and it’s time to get them repaired?

 

1. Do All Repairs Come With A Warranty? 

 

Handpieces are investments to your overall business. You need a guarantee that it will work.

 

The tools you use in your office, are extensions of yourself and your business. If something goes wrong because of a faulty repair, you’re liable for that patient’s safety.

 

A warranty is a silent indicator that the company is confident in their services to ensure your tools with a failsafe. Not only that but if something does happen, you’re covered.

 

Typically, the average repair service warranty is 3-6 months, depending on the handpiece and the type of repair. You’ll want a company that carries out quality repairs with a guarantee that it will work well.

 

If a repair service lacks a warranty, it’s probably best to avoid their services. They may have an inexpensive price tag, but you’ll get what you pay for. There’s a reason they are cheap.

 

Imagine yourself bringing your car in to get new brakes on your car. The technician says they’ll be covered under warranty for the next year. This is a necessary investment to ensure that you’ll be safe on the road, not only to those around you but also yourself.

 

Handpiece repair warranties are similar to car warranties. They are necessary investments to perform your daily tasks safely.

 

2. What Kind Of Parts Are Being Used?

 

Like we said before, handpieces are investments to the success of your business.

 

The last thing you’ll ever want is to replace your high-quality handpiece parts with cheap, poor quality parts. You wouldn’t replace violin strings with yarn, so why would you expect anything less than high-quality parts for every repair?

 

Sadly, if you end up with poor quality parts in your tools, not only is it not going to last as long but it may also damage your tools beyond repair.

 

One of the best things you can do is find out what others recommend. Personal recommendations are huge because they know how the product actually turned out.

 

No one should ever take expensive equipment to someone they don’t know!

 

3. Does The Company Provide High-Quality Customer Service?

 

You need someone who will give you the best experience possible.

 

What does that look like? Someone that honours the promises they make. If they are charging you for a quick turnaround, they make sure they are delivering their work on time.

 

If you don’t get a good feeling around them, or your personalities clash, then don’t entrust them with your repairs.

 

Some of the best repair services are the ones that let you speak directly with one that’s handling your equipment. They have the knowledge on what needs to be done.

 

An indication of a good repair company is if they offer you a free no obligation quote. You need someone to tell you if your tools are just beyond repair. Someone who won’t waste your time trying to fix something that can’t be.

 

Giving you an estimate or advice, means that you can trust their knowledge and they have your best interest in mind.

 

Extending the lifespan of your handpieces can allow you to save money. But you need someone who will tell you like it is, when things are beyond repair. Talk to us about our handpieces and how we can help you!

 

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Struggling with a Difficult Patient? Here’s How to Manage 4 Difficult Dental Patients

In any business, there are customers that we like and customers that test our patience. The same goes for the patients that visit the dentist’s office.

 

And sometimes, it’s hard to handle them so that they have the best experience and you can do your job.

 

Here are 4 types of patients that can be difficult and how to manage them.

 

 

1. The Google Expert 

 

We all know that one patient.

 

They know all the latest and greatest medical news and can’t wait to share with the dental hygienist. Instead of giving them a cleaning, we’re bombarded with questions that have taken four years of dentistry school to learn.

 

“Why didn’t you use this treatment?’

 

“Shouldn’t you be doing this?”

 

It can be exhausting.

 

It’s wonderful that the patient is enthusiastic about getting involved with the process, but it can hinder dental hygienists’ trying to do their job and sometimes even be harmful to the patient.

 

So, what’s the best course of action?

 

Be firm with the patient and confident in your own education. It’s important to make sure that they know we have their best interest in mind and that we are a much better resource than anything they can find on the web. 

 

2. The Late Comer

 

It’s 3:50. Their appointment was at 3:30. At this point, we’re assuming they just aren’t coming.

 

That’s when they stroll on in. The only thing more frustrating than that is if it happens on the regular.

 

Lateness has a domino effect. Regardless if all the next patients are on time, there’s no way to get back that 20 minutes. The worst part is making other patients wait just because someone has chronic tardiness. It isn’t good for anyone.

 

The best way to manage lateness is to incorporate a late policy. And stick to it.

 

Anyone that is more than 15-20 minutes late to their appointment, cannot be seen that day and will have to reschedule.

 

Generally, patients will respect the set appointment time and it will reduce the amount of late arrivers.

 

3. The Nervous Patient 

 

Dental anxiety is no joke. Nearly 1 in 5 patients have some degree of dental anxiety.

 

As dental hygienists, no one wants to see a patient cringe and tense as we recline the chair or pull back their cheeks. But no matter what we try to do to calm them, nothing works.

 

Sometimes, their discomfort and tension can radiate onto us, making us nervous too.

 

The best advice is to stay calm yourself. This is much easier said than done but often times what you put out into the world you get back in return.

 

It may be beneficial to open up the floor to a discussion about what is causing the anxiety and how we, as hygienists, can ease that discomfort. By knowing what makes them the most worried, you can avoid or minimize that factor.

 

In extreme cases, the patient may need to consult their doctor for anti-anxiety medication to take before appointments.

 

4. The Chatty Cathy 

 

You love them, but at the same time they can be quite frustrating.

 

These are the types that will get to know you, ask about the kids or about upcoming vacations. They are often the sweetest patients you’ll get!

 

As much as they make the workday go by faster, they can eat into the appointment through their conversations and suddenly we’re behind schedule!

 

It can be challenging when managing a Chatty Cathy because we don’t want to be rude in any way but we also have to get the job done on time. But like any skill, managing chatty patients comes with time and experience.

 

Focus the conversations towards the beginning and end of the appointment as well as during the period of time before the patient is seen by the doctor. These time zones are optimal for conversations because they don’t interrupt your job but also give the patient a chance to socialize.

 

Not only that but it will also build a better relationship with the patient!

 

While these four types of difficult patients can pose a challenge, there’s nothing we, as dental hygienists, can’t handle.

 

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Dental Hypersensitivity Treatment and Prevention Tips

 

You’re happily enjoying your favorite ice cream when suddenly you are met with a sharp pain in your mouth. If you have found yourself in this unpleasant situation, you could be suffering from dental hypersensitivity.

 

Dental or dentin hypersensitivity is a common, painful condition in which exposed dentinal surfaces produce sharp pain when exposed to air or hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks.

 

It can affect any age group however is slightly more common in women and seems to peak between the ages of 20 and 40. Though temporary, the pain can become chronic with acute episodes. It can affect a single tooth or a variety of tooth surfaces, most often the canines and premolars of both arches.

 

Cause of Dental Hypersensitivity

Under normal conditions, the underlying layer of the tooth immediately surrounding the nerve is covered by tooth enamel and gums. Over time, the enamel layer can grow thinner and the gums recede, exposing the dentin surface. Any conditions wherein the dentin are exposed can lead to hypersensitivity.

 

Risk factors for developing dental hypersensitivity include:

  • Gingival recission due to periodontal disease
  • Gingivitis (inflamed and sore gums)
  • Dental caries
  • Cracked teeth
  • Acidic diet
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Bleaching
  • Extreme toothbrushing
  • Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Plaque build-up
  • Dental procedures (dentin sensitivity can increase after professional cleaning or tooth restoration procedures)
  • Teeth grinding

Treatment for Dental Hypersensitivity

Many people with dental hypersensitivity avoid dental treatment. This is not advised, as visiting a dentist can help rule out the underlying causes of your tooth pain.

 

Your dentist can determine the root cause of your tooth sensitivity and will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment to ease your discomfort and worsening of your condition. Different treatments for managing dentine hypersensitivity may be tried and modified based on the results.

 

Your dentist may recommend any of the following treatments:

 

  1. Desensitizing toothpaste: This toothpaste is available over-the-counter and can sometimes block pain after several applications. Your dentist can recommend the product which is best for you.
  2. Fluoride: Your dentist might apply fluoride to your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain. or may also prescribe a fluoride that you can apply at home.
  3. Desensitizing or bonding: Exposed root surfaces may also be treated by applying bonding resin to the gum surfaces.
  4. Surgical gum graft: A small amount of gum tissue can be removed from another part of your mouth to replace any missing gum tissue, to reduce its sensitivity.
  5. Root canal: If no other method is proving to be successful in treating tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a root canal, known to be the most successful technique for eliminating tooth sensitivity.

Prevention

Good dental care and oral hygiene are important for prevention and reoccurrence of dental hypersensitivity. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle brush and gentle strokes. When drinking acidic liquids, such as citrus juice, coffee or wine, drink water to balance the acidic levels in your mouth.

 

Your dental self-care routine should include regular flossing followed with teeth brushing to prevent plaque build-up which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.  Flossing removes plaque and bacteria that you cannot reach with your toothbrush.

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The Causes and Treatments of Receding Gums

 

 

Your oral health indicates your general wellness. It can be startling if you notice you have receding gums.

 

Receding gums can be painful, but they are also treatable.

 

But what is it and how can we treat it?

 

What Is Gingival Recession?

Gingival recession, or gum recession, is the process for which gum tissue surrounding the teeth is slowly worn away or pulled back. This then exposes the tooth or even the root of the tooth.

 

When this occurs, gaps form between the gum line and the teeth. These “pockets” allow for disease-causing bacteria to build up easily within the mouth.

 

Gum recession is a very common problem for many dental patients. And because it is a subtle build-up, most people don’t even notice they have it!

 

Early signs are typically the following:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth appears longer than normal
  • A “notch” is felt near the gum line

 

Leaving gum recession untreated can result is severe damage to the supporting gum tissue and bone structure. The teeth themselves can be damaged then, which can result in tooth loss.

 

Causes of Gum Recession

There are many typical habits people do every day that can be causes of gum recession. Treatment, in turn, is often dependent on the cause.

 

Aggressive Brushing or Flossing

Ever heard the saying, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing”? This applies to brushing and flossing as well.

 

Gum tissue is a very soft and sensitive material.

 

The enthusiasm for oral health care is great, and many people lack such a thing, but in moderation. The Journal of Periodontology has done a study on aggressive brushing and hard toothbrushes. They found that hard brushing leads to more recession of the gums.

 

To summarize: it’s important to use a soft toothbrush and to brush not scrub your teeth. Brushing isn’t supposed to be painful!

 

Abnormal Positioning or Crooked Teeth

Misalignment of teeth can cause overlapping of teeth or gaps between.

 

When teeth aren’t coming together evenly, the force placed on the gums and the bone structure of the teeth can cause recession.

 

Similarly, lip or tongue piercings can have the same effect. The rubbing from eating or talking that is caused from the metal can irritate the tissue eventually wearing down the gum line.

 

Grinding Teeth

Do you notice that you wake up with a headache? This is a sign of grinding teeth in your sleep.

 

Grinding your teeth can not only cause gum recession but also can be the cause of many maladies. So, it’s important to talk to your doctor when you notice it!

 

While it can be the cause of many things, it is easily treatable with a mouth guard or several other options.

 

Genetics

Your genetics determines a lot about your health and body. And that includes your mouth.

 

30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of care.

 

The characteristics about your gum tissue is determined by your genetics. If one or both of your parents have gingival recession, you are more susceptible to getting it too.

 

Poor Oral Health

With poor oral health, you are at risk for many bacteria including periodontal disease.

 

Gum infections like periodontal disease, wreck gum tissue and the supporting bone structure. Actually, gum disease is the main cause of gum recession.

 

Treatment for Gum Recession

Gum recession in mild cases is very treatable!

 

When you catch gum recession early, it means you likely won’t need professional treatment. Though you might not need professional care, it’s important to have your dentist identify and instruct you accordingly on treating it.

 

Simple steps like evaluating your flossing habits or using a different toothbrush can help.

 

But if you have a more serious case of gum recession there are a variety of treatments to support you. Depending on the severity and cause, you may need surgical treatment.

 

Your dentist will decide the best course of action for you. This would include determining how you could benefit from scaling and root planing.

 

Your oral health is extremely important, since your mouth is a good indication of your overall wellness. Contact your dentist if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

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How Your Oral Cavity Links to Other Health Conditions

 

Your mouth says a lot.

 

And no, we don’t mean like Chatty Cathy next door does.

 

Your oral health is more important than you might think. It can indicate and give clues about your overall health.

 

Problems you have in your oral cavity can actually affect the rest of your body in many ways.

 

Learn about how your oral cavity links to other health conditions and your general health.

 

From Oral Health to Overall Health

 

Our mouths can contain more than 6 billion bacteria. In other words, it’s packed with bacteria.

 

Though some of this is good bacteria and actually helps prevent disease, some can cause serious illness. Think about it this way: you mouth is a gateway to the digestion and respiratory regions of your body for intrusive bacteria to infiltrate.

 

Now the body’s natural defenses paired with a good oral health routine, keeps bacteria in check. But without daily brushing and flossing, the bacteria can become infectious. This can result to gum disease, tooth loss and eventual tooth decay.

 

Severe gum disease called periodontitis has been linked to several diseases including esophageal cancer, according to a decade long study.

 

But it goes both ways too. What you put into your body is just as important. Your nutrition and diet is known to be a sign and cause of enamel erosion.

 

One thing that some people don’t always consider is the importance of saliva. Saliva is the main method of washing away food and neutralizing the oral cavity of acids while also protecting microbes that can lead to disease.

 

Medications such as antihistamines, painkillers and antidepressants can sometimes reduce the flow of saliva. This in turn prevents the saliva from removing the harmful bacteria.

 

Conditions That Can be Linked to Oral Health

 

So what specific conditions can be linked to the health of your oral cavity?

 

Well your oral health can contribute to the following conditions:

 

  • Endocarditis

    This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers. When bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, enters your bloodstream, eventually reaching the heart and attaches to areas within your heart. Typically, the areas that the bacteria attaches to are damaged already.

    Without treatment quickly, endocarditis can lead to life-threatening complications as it damages and even destroys the valves of your heart.

  • Cardiovascular disease

    Cardiovascular disease often is referring to the chamber of the heart that becomes narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This can lead to chest pain, stroke or a heart attack.

    It is not understood why or how cardiovascular disease is connected to oral health but research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke could be linked to the inflammation caused by oral bacteria

  • Pregnancy complications

    Your hormones undergo a lot of change throughout the pregnancy, making you more at risk for gum and bone disease.

    Not only that but periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight and premature birth.

  • Pneumonia

    Pneumonia is a very serious infection found in one or both of the lungs. It is caused by bacteria that enters into the lungs that causes inflammation in the air sacs within your lungs called the alveoli. Breathing is difficult because the alveoli fill with fluid.

The bacteria that enters through the mouth can be breathed into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

 

Conditions that might affect your oral health include:

  • Diabetes

    Gum disease is found more often and more severely in those who have diabetes. Diabetes reduces the resistance your body has towards infections which also means your gums are at risk.

  • HIV/AIDS

    It is common for people with HIV/AIDS to have pain within the mouth such as mucosal lesions and other oral problems.

  • Osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis is a bone disease that results in weakened bones that are brittle and break easily. Depending on the severity, bones may break from a fall or from as little as sneezing.

From an oral standpoint, this would affect the bone structure of your mouth as well. Periodontal bone loss and tooth loss as well as damage to the bones of the jaw are common with severe cases.

 

Some other conditions linked to oral health includes eating disorders, arthritis, certain cancers and Sjogren’s syndrome.

 

How Can You Protect Yourself?

 

We’ll start with your oral health.

 

It’s important to take care of your oral health because it’s linked to so many other parts of the body and can have some serious effects.

 

Practice good oral hygiene! But what does that look like?

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it's important to contact your dentist or health care professional as soon as possible.

 

When you invest time and care into your oral health, your overall health benefits too.

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