Aren’t you tired of the same old drill and fill, pumice-pushing lecture about tooth decay, flossing, and bleeding gums? Yet, patients still come back infected and full of plaque. All our great suggestions are for naught. We keep lecturing, hoping for different results. It becomes discouraging and frustrating for our patients and leads to burnout and career changes for us. On top of that – despite all of our efforts, all of our breath, and all of our floss – periodontal disease is still one of the most common diseases in the world.1 We need to prevent and/or heal this infection, not allow it to simmer and continue to infect people. It is time for a paradigm shift!
American Academy of Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH)
I had the honor and privilege to speak to fellow dental hygienists and dentists at the recent AAOSH Health Scientific Congress in Nashville, TN. My presentation reviewed what I, as a biological hygienist, do differently in my dental hygiene and periodontal therapy appointments.
I have been a dental hygienist for almost 40 years, and I still love my profession. I work in a biological dental office, Green City Dental in Edmonds, Washington, and while I do many “traditional” hygiene duties, I do them with a twist. Since 1985, I have used a phase contrast microscope chairside to view the pathogens of every single patient, and at every re-care appointment. Without that tool, I would have left dentistry – it rescued me from my burnout and helped me fall back in love with my profession. Seeing the spirochetes in action right there on the screen cements the disease in my mind and makes it real for my patients.
Caries testing, ozone therapy, nutritional counseling, orofacial myofunctional therapy, and Bio-Botanicals® are some of the more unique tools in my biological toolbox used for the challenge of shifting the microbiome towards health. Each patient is unique and requires a customized path to wellness. I want each of my patients to heal, but more than that, I want to inspire other professionals to join me in finding the true cause of oral disease and not just address symptoms.
Step Up to Testing
Dentistry has treated dental hygiene as a cosmetic event every six months. A twice a year debridement and floss lecture is not enough to change the microbiome towards health. Let’s move that to the past. We need to look deeper into the mouth, and dental hygienists need to look up from their prophy cups and be the pivotal healthcare provider we are trained to be. We must sleuth out the causes and risk factors to prevent and reverse oral diseases before they do permanent damage not just to the mouth but to the entire body.
Not every office has a microscope, but every office can still test for the oral pathogens, as well as assess the patient’s genetic risk level. Salivary diagnostics fills that role in a big way. OralDNA® is at the forefront of this testing. It is a quick and very easy test to do at the start of the appointment and it gives us so much information to move forward towards healing and prevention. Next week, Part 2 will explore more of the why it is so important to step up your game.