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Learning with your ears: Podcasts appeal to the passionate learner

Feb. 6, 2020
If there's a topic you want to know more about, there's a dental hygiene podcast for it. Karen Davis. BSDH, RDH, describes how she came to love learning with her ears.

Did you know that if a woman is pregnant and has the genetic variation methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), and has a history of consuming processed foods high in synthetic folic acid, it could increase the risk of midline defects in the baby, such as ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) and spina bifida? Are you aware that the majority of women are deficient in vitamins D and K, yet it is not routine to test for these vitamin levels at most initial ob-gyn visits?

Vitamins D and K are essential to assist in the absorption of calcium, and its delivery to the hard structures of the body is critical for optimal oral-facial development. If a pregnancy begins with vitamin deficiencies, it may be impossible for a woman to catch up, even if she supplements with prenatal vitamins, because not all prenatal vitamins are created equal. Ideally, a pregnant woman should consume whole-food prenatal vitamins, such as Innate Response Formulas, to increase bioavailability. A couple of easy ways to consume healthy omega-3 oils are to sauté vegetables in avocado oil or to eat sardine boats, which are lettuce leaves wrapped around sardines with a splash of hot sauce.

I learned all of this and much more during episode 169 of A Tale of Two Hygienists podcast.1 Not only did it blow my socks off to learn so much so quickly, but I now feel better equipped to have important conversations with my patients who are of childbearing age. Women should optimize their health well before becoming pregnant.

According to Podcast Insights, as of June 2019, there were 750,000 podcasts in the US, with 51% of the population having listened.2 That number is growing exponentially every year. Most listening is done at home, although 22% of people listen in vehicles. Interestingly, male listeners outnumber female, with the most common topic being comedy, followed by education and news.2 If you are in the 49% of the population who has not yet tapped into podcasts, what are you waiting for? Audio learning is not going away any time soon.

I have to admit, I was a late bloomer to podcasts, but once I started listening, I became hooked. Time actually passes much faster for me when I’m captivated by a topic, and the learning opportunities for dental professionals cover a huge range of topics. In fact, if you think of a topic you want to know more about (such as optimal compensation structures for RDHs), or a topic you just don’t understand (such as sleep disordered breathing), you can find it on a podcast and learn with your ears.

I won’t be able to highlight the myriad of podcasts that target the RDH market, because there are so many. But I do want to shine a spotlight on one that has been instrumental in my learning.

A Tale of Two Hygienists

A Tale of Two Hygienists (ATOTH) is the first dental-related podcast that I listened to. Even though this podcast began in 2015 while I was still living under a rock in terms of podcast participation, Michelle Strange, RDH, and Andrew Johnston, RDH, were changing the landscape of learning. The casual and entertaining banter between Michelle (East Coast hygienist) and Andrew (West Coast hygienist) makes listeners feel comfortable. Now, hang on to your hat . . .  if you tune in regularly, you are head and shoulders smarter than your colleagues who do not tune in!

Since both of these RDHs have full-time jobs, I have tremendous respect for the amount of time they carve out to share relevant and cutting-edge information with their listeners. It didn’t start out as a business venture for them. They both enjoyed listening to podcasts, and in 2015 Michelle and Andrew decided to partner and provide relevant content to equip clinicians to practice smarter. They host live interviews with experts from around the globe on nutrition, vaping, dental insurance, airway health, diabetes, RDH metrics and compensation, cariology, communication, myofunctional therapy, and hundreds of other topics. As of 2019, they added monthly themes to their podcasts. You can listen to short clips of information or to topics that are fully covered with possible continuing education credits earned. You can explore more at ataleoftwohygienists.com.

With auditory learning via podcasts, you can rewind, listen again, or even repeat topics of pique interest. Those who are passionate about learning have discovered that podcasts are quick and easy ways to learn. The cohosts of ATOTH even reported about a frequent listener who, after tuning in to podcasts on these topics, said she was able to confidently help a patient learn he was diabetic and another to discover early signs of cancer.

If you are fascinated with the idea of learning with your ears, you may want to attend the annual Voices of Dentistry event, which is held each January in different cities.3 The purpose of this event is to bring favorite dental podcasters to one event so that attendees can meet the people behind the voices they listen to, network with other like-minded colleagues, and obtain CE credits.

Search online to discover more fascinating podcasts specifically geared toward dental professionals and sharpen your mind as you learn with your ears.

1.    Vitamins for a healthier you before a healthier two. A Tale of Two Hygienists podcast. Off the Cusp website. April 17, 2019.
2.    Winn R. Podcasts Stats & Facts. Podcast insights website. https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/. Published June 2019. Accessed November 26, 2019.
3.    Voices of Dentistry 2020. Voices of Dentistry website. https://voicesofdentistry.com/.

Karen Davis, BSDH, RDH, is the founder of Cutting Edge Concepts, an international continuing education company. She practices dental hygiene in Dallas, Texas. She is an independent consultant to the Philips Corporation, Periosciences, and Hu-Friedy/EMS. She can be reached at [email protected].