How 2020 is changing the future of dental hygiene and therapy

Dentel hygiene and therapistWith COVID-19 changing the way we live, Amber Ojak looks at the impact it will have on the future of dental hygiene and therapy.

Over the last few months I have been looking closely at the future of dental hygiene and dental therapy. I have spoken to many individuals involved in different aspects of our profession. It really highlights the benefits of calling upon different areas of dentistry, to help aid us with our patients moving forward.

Digital dentistry

We speak about the use of digital dentistry a lot. I spent some time speaking to Theodora Little, the clinical manager of BOB, a ‘bleeding on brushing’ approach, designed by Curaden.

Theodora has a huge success rate with patients who come to her for oral health improvement appointments, only using the BOB technology. She does this on a tablet.

Theodora has shown me how the BOB app can engage patients digitally. It allows them to use the app in the surgery, as well as at home. And it’s a great tool to remind them of what they need to be doing.

The BOB app shows patients which interdental brushes they need where. It then shows the areas of bleeding on a virtual plan of the mouth. Theodora has told me how patients constantly engage digitally. They can add to their own oral maps via the app, which also highlights areas for improvement.

This digital advance signifies how giving patients the tools to engage in their own oral health plan so visually, can encourage them to maintain this at home. By having the notes and picture with them at home, it acts as a wonderful tool to motivate them. It reminds them what we discuss at appointments. This digital aid replicates the advice given to them in the surgery when they are at home. It means patients won’t forgot what we say to them. And it further enforces how we are always willing to help.

Theodora has shown me how patients are willing to come in solely for oral hygiene appointments. Moving forward, where some AGPs are limited, this is one advantageous way of combating disease.

Airflow technology

Many dental hygienists and therapists now use Airflow technology or know about EMS and guided biofilm therapy. I use Airflow in practice with many of my patients. I can see how much it benefits them in terms of comfort, stain removal, as well as improved gum health.

I spoke to Sophie Godsman, who is the recently-appointed area sales manager for Scotland and Ireland, about the future of our profession. She told me how excited EMS are to get back into practice and help us get back to using our Airflow machines again. Sophie touched on the advances in dentistry and how easy it is to connect with people online and keep that communication improving. She also mentioned how EMS has put a lot of information online. It wants to support clinicians using Airflow and GBT (guided biofilm therapy).

EMS has compiled extremely useful webinars. They include in depth guidance on using Airflow in the present circumstances where AGPs are limited.

Looking to the future, Sophie says GBT has such a heavy prevention focus. It will aid us as clinicians to focus on oral health education even more due to how effectively it works.

As a clinician myself who uses this system, I can fully agree that the Airflow aids in effective removal of biofilm. It enhances patients’ experience of prophylaxis through these minimally invasive methods. It also creates an engaged and lifelong patient motivated about their oral health.

EMS is on hand to help with any questions we may have as dental care professionals. By combining such an effective method of cleaning with other avenues, it all therefore contributes to the reduction in disease.

Educational resources

In addition to EMS, other dental companies are supplying us with as much material as possible, and plan to continue to do so.

Speaking to Mel Pomphrett, a professional educator for Philips, she speaks about how Philips is conducting webinars during this time. Subjects include utilising dental hygienists and dental therapists offering teeth whitening. These webinars teach us how we can use our skill set. It helps educate us as dental care professionals during a time we are unable to work fully within our scope of practice.

Mel also explains that Philips is really focusing on supporting dental hygienists and therapists. It will offer support on tooth whitening, and the science of its Sonicare.

Philips is a great example for many dental companies interested in supporting dental professionals improve patients’ oral health. I think it is a wonderful way to expand our knowledge base and also make more connections with brands willing to assist us.

The future

Overall there are many different avenues we can rely upon when treating our patients progressing from lockdown. With the introduction of all these resources, it will help strengthen our level of care and support us with any doubts we may have.

I think this is a very exciting time for our profession. It is a great time to engage with new innovative ideas.

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