Getting rid of the cleaning lady image

June 1, 2010
The least important thing that dental hygienists do is “clean teeth.” Hygienists are on the front line of defense in helping patients lead a healthy life.

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

The least important thing that dental hygienists do is “clean teeth.” Hygienists are on the front line of defense in helping patients lead a healthy life. Inflammation is the key to many of the chronic diseases of aging. Periodontal disease is a disease of inflammation. In his program, “Risk-based periodontics — It is time to get rid of the cleaning lady image,” Dr. Tim Donley discusses the use of clinical facts and risk factor data to determine a patient’s maximum periodontal therapy, and thus optimum periodontal health.

The course is designed to demonstrate to hygienists that the new paradigm of risk incorporation and evidence-based dental hygiene can be performed in their daily practice. Armed with information and the materials to do more than just “clean teeth,” participants can finally leave the “cleaning lady” image behind.

Keeping in mind the links between periodontal inflammation and serious chronic diseases of aging, the primary effort of periodontal care during every recare visit must be to determine if there is evidence of inflammation. Then the clinician must determine what therapeutic options most effectively maximize the chance that oral inflammation will resolve and be kept at bay for the lifetime of the patient.

Participants in Dr. Donley’s program will:

  • Discuss the link between oral and overall health
  • Review patient risk factors that increase the chances of periodontal disease
  • Determine which patients have systemic risk factors that make resolving periodontal inflammation even more significant
  • Discuss strategies to make informed decisions regarding treatment options and patient motivation factors.

Dr. Donley designed the course due to his frustration with speakers who present information but never package it in a clinically useful way. Periodontal CE doesn’t have to be a drudge! He set out to incorporate all of the necessary information and present it in a way that allows participants to laugh a little while learning a lot, and most importantly, to leave with a clear picture of what is best for their patients and practices. Dr. Donley wants hygienists to understand that they can make a difference in patients’ overall health by improving their oral health.

The program is presented in PowerPoint with additional video and other multimedia materials. Attendees receive hard copies of materials and computer access to all of the materials. Dr. Donley invites all those who attend to stay networked with him to receive the latest in periodontal risk education.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Dr. Donley maintains a periodontal and implant practice in Bowling Green, KY. He has a master’s degree in periodontics from Indiana University, is the former editor of the Journal of the Kentucky Dental Association, and is an adjunct professor of perio at Western Kentucky University School of Dental Hygiene.

Over the years he has acquired a massive dental antique collection that rivals the national dental museum! His collection began when he found a few old dental items when he moved into a long-standing dental practice. Since then he has dug through many dentists’ trash to find rare pieces and trace their history. He realizes there are lots of stories in old dental pieces, and he incorporates these during his programs.

Dr. Donley enjoys presenting programs to hygienists because he feels they “get it.” Hygienists want to do what is best for their patients, they want to get it right, and they are always willing to learn. He believes that to eliminate oral inflammation and reduce potential systemic side effects, each hygienist should choose a technique that maximizes the chances of successfully interrupting the subgingival biofilm. He feels hygienists are the ones who understand this concept the most.

Dr. Donley will present his program at RDH Under One Roof as a general session on Aug. 5, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. To him, RDH stands for “Real Dental Hero.” Are you a true RDH?

For more information about Dr. Donley or his programs, contact [email protected].

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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