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The global language

April 1, 2012
Is the world getting smaller? Maybe it’s that we feel more connected to other hygienists because of social media and other digital outlets.

P&G forms international dental hygiene advisory board

By Wendy Bebey, RDH, BS

Is the world getting smaller? Maybe it’s that we feel more connected to other hygienists because of social media and other digital outlets. There is no doubt that dental hygienists, no matter where we live, feel connected to one another. So, what do you get when you combine 14 dental hygienists representing eight countries for an intense two and a half day meeting in Washington, D.C.? You get an amazing global perspective of the profession and the inaugural meeting of the P&G Global Dental Hygiene Advisory Board.

The participants in the P&G Global Dental Hygiene Advisory Board included (first row, from left) Wendy Bebey, RDH, BS (P&G); Mary Giffen (P&G); Mario Rui Araujo, RDH, BS, MHP (Portugal); Sara Burt, RDH, MBA (U.S.); Salme Lavigne, RDH, MS (Canada); Harold Henson, RDH, MEd (U.S.); Jean E. Suvan, DipDH, MSc, CRA, FHEA (United Kingdom); Jane Forrest, EdD, RDH (U.S.); Ron Knevel, RDH, MEd (Australia); J. Leslie Winston, DDS, PhD (P&G); Emily Gumina, RDH (Switzerland); (second row, from left) Marianne Gorby, RDH, MBA (P&G); Olivia Marchisio, RDH (Italy); Pat Walters, RDH, MS (P&G); Michele Darby, BSDH, MS (U.S.); Karen Williams, RDH, PhD (U.S.); Marina Harris, RDH (United Kingdom); Marjolijn Hovius, RDH (Netherlands); and Dagmar Slot, RDH, BoH, BEd, MSc (Netherlands).

As an American dental hygienist, I was excited to spend time with global peers. It was clear that we were all instantly connected to one another because of our common bond. Although our careers in dental hygiene are different, we came together as a group. The members consisted of educators, authors, clinicians, researchers, and speakers (as well as hygienists who work in the corporate environment), which created an amazing atmosphere for exchange.

Dental hygienists from around the world seek solidarity when it comes to making an impact on oral health issues. We arm ourselves with knowledge, passion, and commitment to oral health care. Plus, we love to talk about issues affecting our profession.

Dental product companies view hygienists as important key influencers. Procter & Gamble is committed to recognizing dental hygienists for the essential role they play in promoting oral health literacy. Likewise, dental hygienists look to companies such as Procter & Gamble for providing products that align with their desire to help patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles for life such as the Crest and Oral-B brands.

P&G’s purpose for creating a Global Dental Hygiene Advisory Board is to foster the global view of the profession. As a company, we are working to help advance the profession around the world, so it is important to highlight the profession in countries where it is growing or has potential for growth. P&G is committed to keeping abreast of the changes to the profession and committed to research and development initiatives that are relevant to the prevention of oral diseases.

When it comes to prevention, dental hygienists engage in very lively conversation. It is interesting to note that there are global differences. In the United States, we are well aware that products used in other parts of the world for decades, such as fluoride varnish and xylitol, can eventually make their way to the United States and prove to be an effective part of our armamentarium. We can also be envious of our counterparts in Europe when it comes to use of power toothbrushes. In the United States, 5% of households have a power toothbrush, as compared to 35% of households in Europe.

A floss discussion also showed differences in the way that we coach our patients on the importance of interdental cleaning. U.S. hygienists are very committed to telling patients to “floss.” Globally, hygienists are more likely to discuss interdental cleaning with a preference for using other cleaning aids such as proximal brushes.

Dental hygiene education ranges from nine months to four years. There currently are no doctoral dental hygiene programs anywhere in the world, which is something that has been identified as a concern. Globally, it is also very difficult for hygienists to gain licensure in other countries due to differences in regulation and scope of practice. On a national level, lack of reciprocity continues to be a common obstacle for U.S. hygienists; on a global scale, the issue is compounded.

The board members were all very excited to be a part of P&G’s effort to connect dental hygienists on a global scale. It was an opportunity to unite the profession and sparked a new bond among the members. RDH

Wendy Bebey, RDH, BS, holds the position of Dental Hygienist Relations Manager for North America for Procter & Gamble Professional Oral Health. Prior to that position she served as the Professional & Academic Relations Manager for the Northeast region. Wendy has been lecturing as a Procter & Gamble educator for nine years and has passion for representing Crest Oral B science and products to the dental community. Prior to joining P&G, Wendy practiced in both general and perio practice, and held an adjunct faculty position. Wendy can be reached at [email protected].

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