The dental community is made up of healthcare professionals that care about the environment and with that goal in mind, dental office waste management has become an important aspect of the modern dental practice.
The waste that dental offices generate while delivering dental care includes a variety of materials that present a potential challenge to the environment. Dental practitioners are responsible for proper disposal methods of these materials to ensure both the public’s safety and minimize their effect on the environment.
Examples of such waste items include:
Dental amalgam containing mercury,
Biomedical office waste including spent x-ray processing solutions, disinfectants, cotton, plastic, latex, and glass which may be contaminated with bodily fluids and sharps including lancets, needles, and syringes, and
General office waste.
Dental amalgam is a safe, durable, long-lasting, cost-effective material that has been used as a filling material for more than 150 years. Amalgam contains mercury, which is a toxic and bioaccumlative material, continuing to accumulate in living organisms, thereby posing a threat to plants, animals and humans should it enter the water system. Left uncontained, mercury has the potential to enter our food web, harming birds and fish.
Amalgam that is replaced or removed generates mercury-containing waste when amalgam particles are vacuumed from the mouth. These particles must be effectively collected and maintained. To this end, many dental practitioners have chair-side filtration devices that collect larger particles of dental amalgam removed via suction. Amalgam separators are devices designed to filter finer amalgam particles from the wastewater to reduce the amount of amalgam entering the sewage system.
There are standards and regulations in place in Ontario associated with the quality of the dental practice and amalgam waste disposal. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario establishes and maintains a standard of practice under the regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, and the Dentistry Act, 1991.
Silver is another heavy metal that can be found in dental amalgam. It also occurs as silver thiosulfate in radiographic fixer, a solution used in the processing of dental radiographs (x-rays). The used fixer must not be washed down the drain. Dentists can install in-house recovery units that recover the silver for reuse.
Another common waste product from the dental office is unused film, since they contain unreacted silver that can be toxic in the environment.
Incorporating digital imaging as a replacement means to obtain dental radiographs reduces the amount of silver waste generated by the dental office.
Lead shields that are contained in each film packet used in traditional radiography are another waste product of the dental industry. Lead, like mercury and silver, is toxic to the environment and accumulates in the environment. These lead packets need to be collected and returned periodically to the supplier for recycling.
Biomedical Office Waste
Biomedical waste is one of the many types of waste regulated by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Biomedical waste includes any materials capable of causing disease such as blood-soaked gauze, tissues, and syringes.
General Office Waste
Dental offices can also minimize the effect of waste accumulation in the environment by implementing best practices such as:
Purchasing products with minimal packaging
Use of reusable plastic containers
Use of products made from recycled or partly recycled materials
Use of energy-efficient office lighting
Conscientious use of paper in the dental office for printing and use of both sides of a sheet of paper
By implementing best practices in the collection and disposal of dental office waste, a dental office can successfully minimize and substantially reduce the effects of dental waste on the environment.
There are many corporate-style dental practices cropping up, and plenty of advantages to being part of a large-scale dental service. But despite many smaller practices being scooped up, you can rest assured that privately practicing dentists aren’t going anywhere!
There is a lot to gain by remaining small! The freedoms that come with your own practice can benefit staff and dental patients alike.
1. Customer Service and Individualized Patient Care
Private dental practice has roots in the community. The smaller the practice, the more opportunities to create and maintain meaningful relationships with your dental patients. These connections are priceless and a huge advantage over corporate chatbots and AI customer service interaction.
While a corporation may push for quotas, introductory offers, and discounts ruled by their budgets, often at the patient’s expense—a privately practicing dentist will always be looking out for their patients’ best interests.
2. Human Resources
Having a solid, experienced team you can trust is key to delivering quality dental care. You have to rely on your team and be able to collaborate well in order to be successful.
As a practicing dentist running your own clinic, you have the ability to make any personnel changes you feel are necessary. It’ll be your responsibility to hire whomever you want to get a good group of team members that click together. You’ll have the freedom to implement your own policies, health benefits, bonus structure, and training programs.
Nothing is more frustrating than having management make decisions that ultimately affect your patient’s care. As an employee of a large corporation, you would need to abide by the company’s rules, whether that means replacing your personal assistant or backing one brand of supplier exclusively over another.
However, the freedoms of owning a private dental practice do come at a price. There is all the hiring and firing, scheduling, insurance filing, accounts receivable, and other management decisions that go into running a business. To accomplish these tasks, you can hire an office manager that you feel is the most knowledgeable and who’s thinking is in line with your own.
Being the master of your own marketing campaign offers huge rewards. You may be up against some large established dental corporations that have huge marketing machines, but you also have the freedom to share your own unique story. As a private practitioner, you can choose how to market yourself and stand out from the crowd.
5. Third-Party Vendors
The quality of dentistry you can provide is not always determined by skill alone. Dentistry skills rely on hardware, software, and a variety of consumables used to deliver high-quality dental care.
Running your own practice allows you to choose your own vendors by price and quality of service. It allows you to try out new cutting-edge techniques, equipment, and strategies. Additionally, you would not be constrained to a specific theory of dentistry and limited to only the techniques and treatment plans that the practice selects.
6. Your Goals as Privately Practicing Dentist
You’ve worked and studied hard to become a dentist. Becoming a cog in a large corporate dentistry wheel may not be your idea of success in your field. Starting your day with morning meetings reviewing financial metrics over delivering quality individualized dental care may not be in line with your goals.
As a privately practicing dentist, your focus is on making sure each patient receives the individualized care that they need, from taking the time to discuss brushing techniques to an after-hours dental emergency.
Standards are crucial to maintain the quality of the dental office and the dental profession. They help gain and maintain trust of the patients.
Do you know if your office is up to code?
Here are 7 questions to consider, ensuring your hygiene department is up to the current standards.
1. Are you viewed as “just a cleaning”?
Patients that tend to postpone regular checkups lack the preventative care that dentists can provide. Without regular cleanings, patients return months later with cavities, gum disease and pain.
The expense of dental cleanings is an important one to make. Cleanings every 6 months may seem like a lot (especially without insurance) but they are necessary. It prevents more expensive and invasive treatments once a disease takes hold.
An example of this is the progression of gingivitis to periodontitis. Gingivitis is easily treatable if identified early on by a hygienist. However, if it is left untreated can lead to irreversible periodontitis.
Periodontitis can lead to:
Decreased nutritional intake
Serious disease within your body
During regular appointments dental hygienists identify any areas of potential disease, provide thorough cleanings and advise for at-home care and techniques.
2. Do all your practitioners understand oral health affects overall wellness?
Proper care to your body, like nutrition, is equally important for patients oral health.
This is because your body is full of bacteria, typically the bacteria is harmless. Your natural defenses and good oral health can keep these bacteria under control.
Without that care is when bacteria can get out of control. This can lead to oral infections such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Studies can show that there are connections to internal diseases and oral hygiene. Known internal diseases include:
Endocarditis – This typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from other places in your body, such as the mouth develops. That bacteria then spreads through the bloodstream and into damaged areas of the heart.
Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes could be linked to inflammations and infections caused by oral bacteria.
Pregnancy and birth – Premature birth and low birth weight and periodontitis has been found to be correlated.
3. Are all oral evaluations with measurements comprehensively documented?
Whenever a dental practice is performed, it should be documented.
There are guidelines specifically designed to help practitioners meet the legal requirements for dental record keeping.
The following are basic record keeping information from the official RCDSO:
Accurate general patient information
A medical and dental history that is periodically updated
Accurate description of the conditions that are present on initial examinations (this includes entries such as “within normal limits” where appropriate)
Record of significant findings of all supporting diagnostic aids, tests and referrals like radiographs, study models, and reports
Diagnosis and treatment plan
Notation that informed consent was obtained from the patient
Description of all treatment that is provided, materials and drugs used and, if appropriate, the outcome of treatment
Accurate financial records
4. Do adult patients receive periodontal exams annually?
Comprehensive periodontal evaluations (CPE) are ways to assess patient’s periodontal health. It examines teeth, plaque, gums, bite, bone structure and any risk factors.
With yearly oral health assessments, both patients and dental professionals will know how healthy the patient’s mouth is. They will be able to notice any conditions like periodontal disease that have developed and in need of treatment.
5. Are there clear diagnostic distinctions between health, disease and maintenance oral health status?
If a patient has an active disease, is the hygiene department clear on case types of early, moderate and advanced conditions?
Everyone’s definition of something may be different.
As practitioners, we must make a point to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page. This will allow the documentation clearer to everyone and other members can easily pick up where it was left off.
6. Is there proper communication with the patients?
There are several important questions that will help initiate and maintain good communications with patients.
Is the hygiene team communicating with every patient the status of their supporting structures of bone and gums that hold their teeth in place?
What patient education tools, technology and visuals are being used to make sure the patient understands their status?
Do patients understand why they need the periodontal care and frequency regardless of how many sessions they have covered or what insurance pays?
Does the practice perform root planning, scaling and home care guidelines for patients with active disease?
Are patients with disease returning for their revaluation to assess their healing and success of gum therapy?
Proper communications are key for patients to understand what is happening to them.
Not only should people be spoken to with a professional attitude in person but also on the phone or through email. Whenever dealing directly with customers, confidence and professionalism is key to make a successful impression.
Here are 6 mannerisms to consider when projecting your ideal front desk first impression.
1. Open with a Friendly Greeting and Nice Smile
A simple “Good morning, what can I help you with today?” could help build the beginning of a good relationship with your customer. This swiftly puts the needs of the customer before the needs of yourself, making them feel important.
One of the most important things that anyone providing customer service can do to dramatically improve your interactions is smiling. Not only does it convey to the customer that you are happy to assist them, but it improves your own mood too.
Happiness spawns happiness. Even customers having a bad day will likely be more pleasant if you continuously reply with a friendly tone.
2. Eye Contact
It may sound cliché, but it’s important to maintain strong eye contact throughout your interactions.
Eye contact indicates to the customer that you are present, listening and focused on them. It helps build a connection with them. They feel valued as a result.
By not engaging in eye contact, the customer could assume you do not want to help them, or that you are unsure about their inquiry. This could cause the customer to feel a negative association with you and the company you work for.
Not only that but eye contact is a huge trust builder. Especially with medical practitioners, gaining trust is crucial in order for the customer to be comfortable. Eye contact ensures that, as a receptionist, you know what you are talking about and thus your organization also does. Safety and security are the keys to building happy relationships with your customers.
3. Pay Attention to the Customer
Never ignore the customer. They are your number one priority. Show to the customer that they have your full, willing and undivided attention throughout the entire interaction.
You can demonstrate this by simply asking for their name and using it throughout the conversation. You will not only make the customer feel like they have your full attention, but people will feel a significantly increased rapport by making the interaction personal to them.
4. Speak Slowly
This might be considered odd but could help you improve information being presented for those that may get nervous or just generally speak quickly.
Stumbling or pausing is natural for people to do but it can come across as unprofessional. When speaking quickly, it can hinder the comprehension of information for your visitors. Your information should be clearly presented and speaking slowly limits the amount of opportunities for you to stumble or pause awkwardly.
By minimizing the faults in your speech, you project a very strong sense of knowledge and charisma. You become more enjoyable to listen to as a result.
5. Personal Presentation
How you appear when working is how you are representing your business. Customers will identify the products and your business as respectable because you show respect towards them.
Depending on your establishment, you may have a uniform, or you may be free to choose your own attire. In the case of the latter, you should tailor the wardrobe to the company standards.
When dealing with documents or products, something that is overlooked is keeping nails well-groomed and professional. Your desk should reflect this as well. A messy desk can make the company feel disorganized and sloppy.
Outward appearance is not all of your personal presentation though. How you present your outward appearance affects you too. Confidence is often conveyed through posture. Straight but still relaxed posture exemplifies natural confidence and a pleasant appearance.
Fidgeting and/or constant movement adjustments can distract the customer and make you appear unsure of yourself. Minimizing this can help you seem more engaged or present in the conversation.
Customers will always favour doing business with someone who is pleasant and happy.
Your attitude is a reflection on the respect you have towards the establishment. Similarly, it affects how you approach your job and the people you interact with. A negative attitude pushes the customer away.
It’s important to maintain a positive atmosphere, even when feeling subpar, because people often copy others’ emotions. What you convey to the customer is what you will most likely receive.
There are always ways for you to improve the impression you present to customers. This should shed some light on some areas maybe that have been neglected or introduced you to new ideas.
October has come and gone, and cannabis is officially legal in Canada. What does this mean for your dental practice and your employees?
It means that there is going to be some change within your office, and you will have to take a few steps to keep a happy, well-informed team.
Your main priority is to gain an understanding of the regulations for medical and non-medical use, as well as the expectations of your staff. This knowledge is essential in establishing a clear, permissible policy on cannabis in your practice.
What’s the Policy on Cannabis in Your Dental Practice?
Take time to have a look at the current policies and practices in place. Do your employees understand their rights concerning cannabis use?
If you don’t have a clearly-outlined process in place, this is a great time to create a new one, adding in the new cannabis policies.
When Can Your Employees Use Cannabis?
Does the legalization of cannabis mean employees can use it at work?
In some cases, the answer is yes.
There is a “duty to accommodate” in Canada, which applies to those who are affected by a disability and require cannabis for a medical purpose. This allows prescription cannabis use in the workplace, but they must have medical notation.
That being said, your employees have a right to privacy. You may ask for a doctor’s notation, but it does not have to specify the impairment related to their medical cannabis use.
There is also a duty to accommodate those who are affected by cannabis smoke or vapour. You may have to establish a specific area of the office where employees can consume medical cannabis away from those who it negatively affects, or ask that users consume edible cannabis instead. Consider which approach will allow you to fulfill your duty while maintaining a positive, inclusive work environment.
Is Recreational Cannabis Use Legal in the Workplace?
Despite its legalization, it is not legal for employees to use recreational cannabis within the walls of your dental practice. Laws against smoking in the workplace still apply.
Additionally, the legalization of cannabis does not give people the right to be impaired on the job. This includes using cannabis before work if the effects will cause impairment during work hours.
According to workplace medical testing and assessments company DriverCheck, cannabis impairment can last for 24 hours. This is important to communicate to your employees, especially those who may use cannabis recreationally on the weekend, to ensure sobriety for Monday morning.
How to Discuss a Cannabis Policy with Your Employees
Communicating your policy to your staff is key. This is a new law, and everyone is still learning about it, so it’s important to be on the same page.
For medical cannabis users, it’s important to create a safe and open environment for employees to approach you with their medical needs. This will allow open and honest communication around cannabis use and a smooth accommodation process.
For recreational use, be sure to communicate your expectations to your staff verbally and in writing. Some may think that marijuana use is like cigarette use on company time — it’s important to debunk this right away.
When everyone understands the new policies, your office can move forward with the new cannabis law in a professional manner for both you and your patients.
Cannabis Legalization and Your Dental Practice
Communication is key. Ensure your policies are clear and both medical and non-medical policies and expectations are outlined. This will ensure a positive work environment surrounding cannabis and will make for a clear understanding for you and your team moving forward.
When dentists place new amalgam fillings or remove old ones, water containing amalgam particles is flushed into chair-side drains. These mercury-containing particles then enter the wastewater disposal system and water treatment plants. From there, the amalgam particles may be incinerated, land-filled, or made into fertilizer pellets for lawns or gardens. In each case, mercury from amalgam fillings is discharged into the environment, where it may bioaccumulate in fish and contaminate the food chain.
To summarize, dental offices that work with amalgam fillings (including “mercury-free” practices that only remove them) flush amalgam particles containing mercury down the drain and into the wastewater system. These particles ultimately become environmental pollutants.
The regulation applies to most dental practices that discharge waste into a public sewer or wastewater system. The basic requirements are:
Using amalgam separators (or equivalent devices) to remove dental amalgam solids from all amalgam process wastewater;
Implementing best management practices;
Complying with reporting requirements; and
Maintaining certain records documenting compliance.
Practices have until July 2020 to comply.
What Are Amalgam Separators?
An amalgam separator is a device installed on a dental vacuum line to filter out mercury and other particles from water waste before they enter the sewer system. The captured mercury can then be recycled to industry or safely disposed of.
Traditionally, dental practices used chair-side traps and vacuum filters to capture amalgam waste; however, the ADA estimates that 6.5 tons of mercury bypass these filters annually.
In addition to reducing environmental pollution, using an amalgam separator can help to extend the life of vacuum pumps by preventing solid particles from entering and damaging the pump.
To comply with EPA regulation, an amalgam separator must be ISO 11143:2008-certified to remove greater than 95% of solids by weight. Most amalgam separators on the North American market meet this standard.
There are many ways to boost patient satisfaction in your dental practice. Clear communication, good time management, friendliness, efficiency, and empathy are significant factors in a patient’s overall expectations of their dental experience.
But according to the Canadian Dental Association, one quality stands out above the rest: confidence.
A dental practitioner’s confidence, and the ways in which they demonstrate it, ranks as the #1 influencer on how patients perceive their quality of care, according to the latest Canadian Dental Association survey.
Why? Confident people attract positive attention — no secret there. It’s natural to be attracted to people with high self-esteem, whose confidence shines through their charisma, appearance, speaking, writing, and listening skills. Confidence is a sign of competence, not arrogance, in the dental practice.
To promote and maintain patient satisfaction, professional dental care providers need to keep confidence at an optimum level to ensure ongoing quality of care. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways to grow and maintain that confidence in your practice.
Ways to Be Confident and Boost Patient Satisfaction
A person’s levels of confidence can swing up and down due to positive or negative experiences, and criticisms. We are most confident when we are performing routine and familiar tasks.
Here are ways to show your confidence as a dental practitioner or hygienist:
Be optimistic. Think positively. While it may sound cliché, there are tangible and proven benefits to adopting an air of optimism, and your positive outlook will rub off on your patients.
Focus on the present. What do you want to accomplish today? Don’t dwell on the past. Once you have acknowledged your mistakes, learn to accept them and move forward.
Accept compliments graciously. Say thank you. What may seem like minor work to you can have a profoundly positive impact on your patients’ lives, so you should always be open to their praises.
Face your fears. When you have a busy day ahead, tackle the tasks you like least first. You will face the remainder with the confidence of knowing the worst is over.
Break down large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Knowing how to prioritize your to-dos is key to ensuring you accomplish your daily goals.
Learn and research new skills and technology. The world of dentistry is continuously advancing, and being prepared will help you keep a competitive edge.
Recognize your strengths and achievements. You have come a long way to get where you are. Remember to celebrate successes.
Manage stress. Don’t let your own wellness get lost in the daily grind. Develop effective coping strategies, and take moments to just breathe throughout your day.
Smile. Learn to laugh at yourself. Take pleasure in your daily tasks.
Believe in yourself and your team. Positive reinforcement will help everyone in the practice grow their confidence and boost patient satisfaction.
With more and more people making an effort to be informed on the chemicals and materials they’re exposed to every day, many dentists are looking to reduce the number of chemicals used in their practices.
Proper cleaning and disinfection in a dental office is a legitimate concern. After all, if disinfection isn’t done properly, a patient could be harmed. Everyone in the practice is responsible for ensuring the safety of all patients that walk through its doors.
The best way to avoid making a patient sick is to make sure that any sources of infection are properly contained. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to hear that evacuation systems aren’t cleaned daily—or aren’t properly disinfected when they are cleaned.
Reasons for the lapse in cleanliness could partly be due to the work involved, but also the perceived dangers of the continuous use of chemicals every time the system is cleaned. Over the past three decades, newer and stronger chemicals have been introduced to keep surfaces, water lines, and evacuation systems clean and sterile. However, the number of chemicals can also create issues, and many are harmful on their own.
The alternative is microbiological cleaners. But what are they, and how do they work?
It was over 150 years ago that doctors figured out washing their hands before surgery drastically reduced the patient’s risk of infection. This jumpstarted the field of microbiology, or the study of microscopic organisms.
Once we started looking, we discovered bacteria everywhere.
It’s estimated that there are more bacterial cells in a human body than there are cells that make up that whole person. The sheer number of microbial organisms that constantly surround us is staggering, which is why it’s so hard to create sterile environments. We need to use intense stressors like temperature, pressure, or chemicals to eliminate microbial growth.
We simply must accept that we are, and always will be, swimming in a sea of bacteria. The good news is, though, that the clear majority of bacteria won’t make you sick. Most bacteria really do not affect us. In fact, there are plenty of microbes that actually keep us healthy. Your gut, for example, is chock full of bacteria that is helping you to remain healthy and digest your food.
The good bacteria in your gut also keeps dangerous, harmful bacteria at bay. It’s this same principle that makes microbial disinfection such a good alternative.
As an alternative to chemicals, disinfection can be done using microbial cleaning products. These products seed and jumpstart the growth of “good bugs.”
These good bugs not only help to kill harmful ones, but they also work to keep the bad bugs away. This is one clear advantage to chemical sterilization—the harmful bacteria is kept at bay for longer.
Products like Bio-Pure can keep an evacuation system clean of harmful bacteria on a continuous basis. It does this by introducing a cleaning microbe into the system. Microbial growth is exponential, which means one microbe can quickly become 10,000,000. This army of good bacteria cleans out all other microbes and creates a barrier against bad bugs.
Short of cleaning out the system before and after each use, Bio-Pure is the most effective way to keep a system clean and safe at all times. Plus, there’s no need for harmful chemicals.
When concentrating on efficiency and making the best use of the available space, it can be easy to forget a dental office also must provide the right atmosphere for clients. Although many dental practitioners have done their best to reduce anxiety for clients, Ondontophobia is still all too real for many people.
While some of these individuals require therapy to manage this issue, practitioners can still do their part to reduce anxiety experienced by anyone dreading a trip to the dentist. A great way to start is by reducing a client’s apprehension before they sit in the examination chair.
Here are some things to keep in mind for dental office design that will help to generate an inviting, relaxed atmosphere for your patients.
In the old days, dental offices often had a tropical fish tank in the waiting room. These provided a gentle distraction for patients, particularly children. Many still do, but now many offices are also installing televisions.
These generally play programs and movies without the sound, but with closed captions activated so interested viewers can follow what is happening.
A TV can provide a relaxing diversion, but you need to be careful about what is on. Violent shows or ones that are particularly suspenseful will be counterproductive, as will news channels on days when the reporting is particularly negative.
Soothing Colours and Artwork
Personal preference always plays a big role when choosing colours for an office, but here are some suggestions to consider. When choosing your colour scheme, aim for hues that induce a sense of tranquility and do not have any hint of threat.
Colours able to bring about a calming energy include those people commonly enjoy in nature, such as sky blue, green/sage, and tan/brown.
White suggests cleanliness and reminds some of anti-septic, but can be triggering for some due to its hospital connotations.
Bright colours, while attractive, can actually put people on edge (red is particularly strong in this regard), so try to stay away from them.
Do not choose only a single colour; pick a main one as well as another that provides a notable contrast, but not too harsh (e.g. a darker and lighter version of the same hue). Solicit opinions from your staff, and ask what they would prefer for areas only they will use.
Artwork can also provide both decoration and visual interest. Be sure to choose art the average person can easily relate to and does not include an abundance of off-putting shades.
Plants and Furniture
Plants will help to reinforce the natural theme and suggest that your practice is a healthy and vibrant place. Be sure to regularly water and maintain them so wilted, dying leaves are never apparent. If it is apparent that everyone on staff is too busy to ensure this happens, hire an outside company to do it.
Choose chairs that look and feel comfortable, but can also hold up well to steady traffic and children. Side tables should be big enough to accommodate patient’s incidentals, but not take up so much space that it becomes awkward to move around.
Include magazine and brochure racks for those who would prefer to read.
Provide a View
If building design permits, and you are lucky enough to be in a picturesque area, provide a window view in the waiting and exam rooms.
This offers another healthy and natural way for patients to get their minds off their procedures, both before and during the process.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.