A collaboration on systemic health

Sept. 1, 2011
A number of corporate dental entities value the expertise of dental hygienists. From their support of professional products to ...

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

A number of corporate dental entities value the expertise of dental hygienists. From their support of professional products to hiring dental hygienists for sales, education, and corporate management positions, many companies have recognized the importance of including dental hygienists in the mix of potential leads and business partners.

The list of companies entering the dental hygiene market is constantly growing. Some have been sponsors and benefactors for years; others are new to the dental hygiene profession. All have enhanced the dental hygienists’ professional image and practice while providing products and services to improve patients’ oral health.

Two companies that have been constant supporters of dental hygiene are Philips Sonicare and Discus. In 2010, Philips Sonicare purchased Discus in a collaborative effort to enhance both companies’ product lines and services. Each company separately provided dental hygienists and patients with excellent products, and together they are a synergistic match.

As a result of this collaboration, Philips Sonicare and Discus are providing dental hygiene associations with an educational symposium that offers both visibility for the associations and great CE programs. The symposium is entitled, "The Wellness Connection: The Relationship between Oral and Systemic Health," and brings together not only Philips and Discus companies, but two leading dental hygiene experts on systemic health – Betsy Reynolds, RDH, MS, and Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH. I recently had an opportunity to be a part of this symposium in Boston.

Philips and Discus recognize the importance of dental hygiene associations, and this program is intended to promote membership and visibility of the associations, while serving as collaboration with the associations and their constituents and companies. Philips and Discus handle all of the logistics for the event and the association receives an unrestricted educational grant.

The symposium was divided into two portions. The morning focused on Michelle’s program, "New Age Patient Care: Natural Products and Oral Health." Many patients use natural products to treat illness and maintain health. From an evidence-based perspective, the program reviewed the top selling dietary supplements and their implications in clinical practice, including product description, popular uses, active ingredients, dosage, herb-drug interactions, safety, contraindications, and clinical considerations. Participant objectives were:

  • Recognize common herbal and dietary supplements and their known pharmacological effects
  • Identify individuals at risk for potential drug interactions with natural products
  • Discuss natural products for oral health
  • Advise patients on generally accepted guidelines for natural product use

Michelle is a practicing hygienist in a high-tech practice in Upland, Calif., and an assistant professor at Loma Linda University’s dental hygiene program. She is also the director of Loma Linda’s online BSDH degree completion program, and an herbal information specialist of the American Botanical Council. Michelle has a varied career in dental hygiene, having worked in private practice, public health, corporate, continuing education, consulting, and education.

The second portion of the symposium was Betsy’s "The Science of Suppression: Understanding the Miraculous Immune System." Immunology is an evolving science that is integral to the understanding of health and disease. This program helped participants understand the important role immunity plays in oral and systemic health, as well as autoimmune disorders and their effects on the immune response.

Participant objectives were:

  • Differentiate between innate (natural) immunity and acquired (humoral) immunity
  • Recognize the roles of various cells involved in mounting an immune response
  • Understand immune hypersensitivity reactions and their clinical ramifications
  • Identify oral and systemic ramifications of autoimmune disorders.

Betsy is an oral biologist whose energetic style enlightens audiences both nationally and internationally. You may laugh your way through such diverse topics as the role inflammation and stress have on oral and systemic health, head and neck anatomy, current developments in oral health care delivery, and microbiology. You may not think it’s possible to laugh your way through microbiology, but with Betsy it’s actually fun!

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Philips and Discus, a healthy continental breakfast and lunch are provided. The course fee for participants is kept to a minimum to allow more participation, though attendance is limited. Product endorsements are minimal, and there is no "hard sell" presentation.

Philips and Discus make an effort to work with dental hygienists’ associations to promote this exciting collaboration. The program is not widely promoted, making the association rather than the companies the focus. Consider attending this program if it’s ever in your area. It is a celebration of hygienists and a win-win for you, your local dental hygienists’ association, and Philips and Discus.

For more information, contact Gail Stoops, RDH, BSDH, senior manager of professional relations for North America, at [email protected].

This month’s IneedCE featured course is "The Development and Utilization of Fluoride Varnish." RDH magazine readers can receive 27% fee reduction on the course when using the code FLVARN. This course is designed to review the development of in-office topical fluorides, list the anticaries efficacy of available in-office topical fluoride, and describe the use of risk assessments and individualization of recommended fluoride treatments. Fluoride usage within dental practices has evolved over the last several years. This program updates dental professionals on the various uses of fluorides and the need of patients to be on a fluoride program.

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. Ann-Marie is currently a business/clinical coach for Jameson Management, Inc, a comprehensive coaching firm and also presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. She is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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