A focus on risk assessment

July 2, 2010
As remineralization technology has emerged in preventive practice, dental hygienists have the methods to manage dental caries and prevent the No. 1 chronic disease in America.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
[email protected]

As remineralization technology has emerged in preventive practice, dental hygienists have the methods to manage dental caries and prevent the No. 1 chronic disease in America. Premier Dental Products has developed a program called “Enamel Therapy: The Next Generation of Care” that discusses the paradigm shift in dentistry in the risk assessment and treatment protocols that guide clinicians in managing caries. With these remineralization techniques and improvements in diagnostics, dental hygienists can expect to recognize the need to implement these new steps in interceptive procedures to minimize this oral disease.

The Premier educational team is led by Lil Caperila, RDH, MEd, and consists of a group of hygiene professionals and key opinion leaders who present the program to national and international groups. The program’s goals and objectives include:

Utilization of CAMBRA risk assessment to identify the caries risk level of every patient

Education of patients on the dangers of enamel erosion through diet, plaque control, and lifestyle choices

Comparison of the old and new paradigms in evaluation and treatment of caries

Discussion of the latest technologies available to dental professionals that address enamel and dentinal demineralization and their mechanisms of action.

Dental hygiene is a profession founded on the principles of preventive care and patient education advocacy. Today’s hygienists need viable plans for risk assessments and treatment protocols in any practice setting. Premier’s program provides these plans by allowing hygienists to identify their role and support their knowledge in the latest clinical procedures to achieve their clinical goals. The program offers a historical review of caries and factors that predispose patients to caries through traditional and contemporary caries models, the incorporation of antibacterial therapies to combat caries as a bacterial infection, the effects of xylitol, chlorhexidine, and fluoride, the etiologies and stages of enamel and dentin demineralization, and the creation of an effective treatment plan based on an individual patient’s risk level and compliance history.

Participants in the seminar will gain confidence in their ability to treatment plan using contemporary protocols for caries management. All members of the dental team will benefit from the presentation since a successful dental team relies on communication. The dentist and dental assistant play key roles in activating a thorough risk evaluation, which paves the way for the hygienist as the primary preventive specialist. Understanding all aspects of minimally invasive dentistry is a team concept, and all members must recognize these changing paradigms.

Lil developed the program after working for Premier for nearly 10 years in product research and marketing. Premier is taking a dedicated direction in the future of dental hygiene by expanding its educational activities to promote hygiene as an essential and irreplaceable force in improving the nation’s health care. The Enamel Therapy program, the first in a series of programs, allows for hands-on application to guide participants in their everyday practice decisions. As an environmentally conscious company, Premier offers course handouts and resources on its corporate Web site for program participants. The program is offered in PowerPoint, and it offers sufficient time for participants to ask questions and clarify points during the interactive components of the program. Another installment of the series will concentrate on CAMBRA and will be available in the latter part of 2010.

Lil has experienced many aspects of dental practice. Beginning as an expanded function dental assistant for five years, she earned her hygiene certificate and was employed as a clinical hygienist and periodontal cotherapist for over 20 years. Lil earned her bachelor’s degree from Thomas Jefferson University and combined her loves of education and dental hygiene by serving as a dental hygiene instructor at TJU and clinical hygienist in a periodontal practice for the next four years. In 2004, she earned a master’s degree in education in instructional design from Penn State University. With this degree she decided to use her skills in a newly created position with Premier called Manager of Professional Education. The changing roles during her career have built a strong base for her position as a continuing education speaker and corporate relations manager. Additionally, Lil recently received the ADHA Irene Newman Award for Professional Dental Hygiene Achievement.

Dental professionals who have participated in the Enamel program recognize the timeliness of the information, with its hands-on clinical applications that has direct impact on their practice. Each time they present the program, Lil and the educational team are constantly challenged to revise and update the program to remain current with contemporary innovations.

At a time when continuing education has become mandated in most states and professional education has become a “business” that may have reduced the quality and credibility of program content, the “Enamel Therapy” program challenges the norm. Lil’s background as an educator guides the integrity of the program’s delivery. Although the program is sponsored by Premier, Lil is determined that all the educational seminars remain unbiased, balanced, and evidence-based with an interactive learning experience. The educational team strives to meet and exceed that expectation with every program it presents.

For more information on the Enamel Therapy program or Premier products, contact [email protected], or visit www.premusa.com.

Ann–Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH, is a fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and a member of ADHA and other professional associations. Ann–Marie presents continuing–education programs for hygienists and dental team members and has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. She can be reached at [email protected].

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