BYLory Laughter, RDH, BS
Dental hygiene as a career is multifaceted, allowing you to pick from a number of roles in your profession. You can choose from positions in clinical, sales, academics, speaking, writing, or coaching — just to name a few. But regardless of your chosen path, the purpose of the dental hygienist is to deliver care and promote health. The web holds resources to help you in that goal.
The fist step in the process of care is assessment. Yet, it is also often the step we rush or skip completely. During the assessment of a patient's oral and general health, a number of tools can be employed: radiographs, a probe, and other diagnostic tools such as intraoral cameras and bacterial testing. In our age of technology, it makes sense to also use the Internet.
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Philips created the free online Customized Assessment and Risk Evaluator (CARE) to help us with this vital first step in prevention and treatment. The CARE board used industry accepted guidelines and criteria to craft extensive assessments for the most common and critically important conditions to dental professionals. The board was filled with experts in the dental field and led by Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH.
CARE covers assessments for periodontal diseases, caries, and oral pathology, allowing the clinician to develop a customized treatment plan for each patient. CARE does not replace professional judgment, but rather supplements your expertize.
The online tool is broken down into five easy steps. First, you interview the patient and answer simple yes or no questions for the condition you are addressing. The tool assesses the patient's risk and provides you with recommended guidelines for review. You then customize the guidelines and protocols you want the patients to follow and give them a personalized handout created from their individual risk and your recommendations. You can also save a copy of the handout for your records and follow up appointments.
Visit the site where you can watch a demo and get started with the free online tool. You can also watch a free CE webinar presented by Michelle Hurlbutt titled, "Risk Assessment: Best Practices in Oral Health Management."
In 2012, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Dental Association jointly released guidelines for patient premedication. "The Prevention of Orthopaedic Implant Infection in Patients Undergoing Dental Procedures: Evidence-based Guideline and Evidence Report" created confusion and disagreement from day one.
In 2014 the ADA convened a panel of experts to clarify the report and develop evidence-based clinical guidelines for the use of prophylactic antibiotics in patients with prosthetic joints who are undergoing dental procedures. These recommendations are not only clear, but also based on science and research instead of tradition and dangerous "better safe than sorry" attitudes.
While you can get a summary and abstract on the ADA website, I always recommend reading the source articlein its entirety. The research reaches a concise conclusion stating, "In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection."
Textbooks are something we usually only consider during our years of formal education. We remember these books as heavy, sometimes overwhelming, and very expensive. With increased access to the Internet and digital formatting, these valuable tools are more widely accessible and available at more reasonable prices. Imagine a textbook useful in treating patients, available at your computer or digital e-reader and free. Colgate brings us such an offering.
Released in 2010, "Periodontal Disease and Overall Health: A Clinician's Guide" is for health-care professionals and discusses the relationship between oral disease and overall health. Contributing authors include dentists, medical doctors, and dental hygienists. The book is 18 chapters of research driven information and education ending with a chapter discussing our responsibility in educating the public on these important topics.
Our responsibility for education and competence in delivering health care is ongoing throughout our careers. Learning, researching, and applying current knowledge to treatment protocols is vital in delivering quality patient care. Late night study sessions and the testing of our skills do not necessarily end with your college degree.
Whether you seek a textbook to further your understanding of the disease process, the latest evidence-based guidelines for protecting your patients, or tools for assessing disease and providing treatment, the World Wide Web has you covered. RDH
Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She can be contacted at [email protected].