Fleur Bruna, RDH

Open Wide: How a dental blog can empower hygienists and build patient trust

March 24, 2024
Fleur Bruna, RDH, shares her journey in starting her own dental education blog. Learn more about RDH Community Connections.

In the ever-evolving field of dental hygiene, we need to work hard at staying connected and continuously expanding our knowledge. We have a unique opportunity to make a difference by educating not only our patients but also our fellow professionals. Here’s a look at my journey in starting my dental education blog, Open Wide, and how other knowledgeable dental hygienists can contribute to its success. Together, we can empower patients to advocate for themselves in any dental setting.

I want you to think back to the first time you saw a new patient’s dental x-rays and thought something looked wrong. Poor-quality restorations, crowns fitted improperly, overhangs on fillings, decay underneath new fillings, or even untreated periodontal disease on a patient who had been going to a dentist regularly. What about a patient who comes in for a second opinion from another office with a lengthy treatment plan—and as you look at their dental x-rays, you begin to wonder if the x-rays of the treatment plan are the same x-rays you’re looking at.

This happens every day in dentistry. Seeing poor-quality dental work or untreated periodontal disease boils my blood, and it should upset you too, whether you’re a first-year hygienist or a 20-year seasoned veteran. Patients trust us with the knowledge and care of their teeth, believing what we do is to benefit them. What they don’t realize is that the treatment they get is not always what they paid for, or what they need. When you see this, are you confident enough to speak up about it and to question it?

Building back patient trust

I remember the first time I got my hair colored in college. I went to a salon with a business model based on the experience level of the stylist; the more experienced the stylist, the more they charged, and essentially you got exactly what you paid for. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t exist in the medical or dental world. You pay the same rate regardless of the experience or knowledge of the provider has. This blind trust in dental providers has been betrayed over time such that a negative light has now been cast on the dental industry.

Open Wide began as a passion project born out of a desire to bridge the gap between dental professionals and patients. Recognizing the need for reliable and accessible dental information, I decided to create a platform that would empower patients to take charge of their oral health. The blog provides evidence-based information, debunks myths, and addresses common concerns, equipping patients with the confidence to advocate for themselves.

The power of collaborative knowledge

While my journey initiated the creation of Open Wide, its future lies in the collective wisdom of dental hygienists. By encouraging other knowledgeable professionals to contribute their insights, experiences, and expertise, we can create a dynamic and diverse dental education platform. The collaboration of dental hygienists from various backgrounds enhances the credibility and comprehensiveness of the blog, ensuring that it caters to the needs of both professionals and patients.

Interested in participating in Open Wide or creating your own dental forum? These ideas can help.

Share your expertise: Contribute articles, case studies, or research findings that highlight specific dental hygiene topics, emerging trends, or innovative techniques. By sharing your expertise, you can educate and inspire others in the field while enriching the content of Open Wide.

Provide patient perspectives: Share stories or experiences from your interactions with patients to help light on the challenges they face and how they can advocate for themselves in dental settings. By understanding patients’ perspective, we can tailor our approach to better serve their needs.

Collaborate on research: Explore opportunities to collaborate on research projects related to dental hygiene and oral health. By sharing findings and promoting evidence-based practices, we can collectively contribute to advancing the field of dental hygiene.

The ultimate goal of Open Wide is to empower patients to become advocates for their own oral health. By providing accurate and accessible information, we can help patients understand their dental needs, ask informed questions, and actively participate in treatment decisions. This empowerment leads to improved communication between
patients and dental professionals, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of oral health care. Let’s embrace this opportunity to shape the future of dental education, one blog post at a time.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2024 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

With over 15 years in the field, Fleur Bruna, RDH, brings a wealth of experience as a dental hygienist. Her unwavering passion revolves around patient education in oral hygiene and advocating for the dental profession. Fleur has honed her skills to simplify complex dental concepts for patient comprehension, ensuring they actively participate in their oral health. In addition to her clinical work, Fleur has established an informative dental blog, Open Wide, to debunk common misconceptions and promote dental awareness. Committed to continuous learning, she actively participates in workshops and community outreach, mentoring aspiring dental professionals. Contact Fleur at [email protected].