The facts about spas

Oct. 1, 2006
Today, dental professionals hear the term “dental spa” frequently. But for Debra Grant, RDH, CA, that term has come to mean an enhancement of ...

Today, dental professionals hear the term “dental spa” frequently. But for Debra Grant, RDH, CA, that term has come to mean an enhancement of professional beliefs and ideals that has reinvigorated many hygienists’ lives and patients’ comfort while embarking on improved oral and systemic health. Deb’s programs - “Enhancing Clinical Care Through Advanced Dental Hygiene Practice” and “Perioromatherapy” - discuss the “original dental spa” concept and how dental spa products can highlight comfort for the dental patient.

During the “Enhancing Clinical Care” program, participants get a taste of the all-day spa-oriented program that the “Perioromatherapy” program offers. This all-day spa event allows participants to implement Oraspa’s certification for proper relaxation and education in the dental and dental hygiene practices. Oraspa is the only science-based, holistic, therapeutic technique using alternative methods to relax the patient during dental prophylaxis.

The Perioromatherapy certification program is designed exclusively for hygienists, since the procedure is performed during maintenance appointments only and incorporates assessments of the patient’s medical history.

These unique programs pamper participants, who learn how to soothe and relax patients. Hygienists wear comfortable clothing for the presentation, such as yoga pants and roomy shirts, and enjoy the camaraderie and friendship of hygienists from around the country.

Since her father was a chiropractic physician, Deb learned at an early age the value of holistic medicine. After she graduated from the dental hygiene program at Parkland College, Ill., Deb married and lived a comfortable lifestyle in Boca Raton, Fla., full of pampering and massages. She didn’t really “need” to practice dental hygiene.

However, things changed dramatically when she was suddenly left with two daughters to raise alone and only the clothes on her back. Her dental hygiene career was her saving grace, but she was forced into the day-to-day practice of hygiene. She soon experienced career boredom and burnout, and the stresses of single motherhood intensified her situation.

She remembered the days of luxury and relaxation and began to think that everyone - no matter where he/she is in life - should be able to enjoy some opulence of comfort. She surrounded herself with professionals in alternative medicine who focused on antianxiety and decompression. Music therapists, paramedical aestheticians, chiropractic physicians, massage therapists, psychologists, and feng shui apprentices are some of the professionals who helped Deb develop her Perioromatherapy technique.

She educated herself about the proper use of essential oils and was fascinated by the healing art of aromatherapy. Deb was fortunate enough to work with a dentist who saw the benefits of her services and allowed her to research and test her theories in his office and on patients. Many of their patients now say they would never have their teeth cleaned in any other way!

Course goals and objectives of the Perioromatherapy certification program include:

  • Enhance the advanced dental hygiene practice in providing education and training to become a certified perioromatherapist.
  • Learn the six basic elements of Perioromatherapy.
  • Apply a more comprehensive head-and-neck assessment, including dental thyroid screening.
  • Implement an expanded duty for the dental hygienist in the dental office.
  • Service patients with an alternative relaxation technique.
  • Bring a win-win practice builder to the dental office and begin providing the new therapy immediately.
  • Deb provides a number of other programs besides the “Enhancing Clinical Care” and “Perioromatherapy” courses. In “Earth, Wind, and Fire,” she teams up with Beth Thompson, RDH, and Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, to integrate elements of dental hygiene practice with the latest research in caries and periodontal prevention and management.“The Power RDH” program helps hygienists value their roles as important health-care practitioners while teaching practice-building concepts. This creates a win-win situation for patients, dentists, and hygienists.Deb and her friend Patti DiGangi, RDH, present the course “Desperate Hygienists,” which describes a dental practice similar to the fictional Wisteria Lane, where all appears right with patients and co-workers/peers, but troubles lie just beneath the surface. This interactive course acknowledges these troubles and provides participants with fresh, new views to find solutions that benefit both patients and staff.While president of the Illinois Dental Hygienists’ Association, Deb met many hygienists in the state. She discovered many beliefs about the spa experience. For example, many believe that burning candles in the dental practice is “spa” dentistry, when, in fact, OSHA and patient sensitivities recommend not burning candles. She takes her certification in aromatherapy as seriously as her continuing education in dental hygiene.In her monthly RDH column, “Mind, Body & Spirit,” Deb discusses many of the issues she cares deeply about and covers in her programs. Deb’s passion and mission is to take dental aromatherapy to the hygiene community and enhance the scope of dental hygiene practice. She would like every dental hygienist to remember that there is merit in all that we do for ourselves, our patients, and our employers. A hygienist’s self-worth must be valued by the self first before others can appreciate the value within. By doing so, no one will take dental hygiene for granted. For information on Deb’s programs or Oraspa, visit Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, FAADH, is currently a faculty member at Mt. Ida College’s dental hygiene program after spending more than 25 years in private practice. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and is also pursuing a master’s degree in education in instructional design. Ann-Marie has written numerous articles and provides continuing education programs for dental hygienists and dental team members. She can be reached at [email protected].