A touch of hygiene

Jan. 1, 2010
Touch is important to stimulate the tactile sense in hygiene. Whether you pick up a new instrument or use a very familiar one, the feel of the product can evoke pleasant or not so pleasant thoughts.

by Karen Kaiser, RDH
[email protected]

Touch is important to stimulate the tactile sense in hygiene. Whether you pick up a new instrument or use a very familiar one, the feel of the product can evoke pleasant or not so pleasant thoughts. As clinicians, you recognize when a product “just feels right” or seems bulky and cumbersome when you hold it in your hand during treatment. You can see how the sense of touch is used daily in our delivery of patient care. It can be mind-boggling to think about all the equipment and product items available to hygienists. The hygiene touch is all about the dental care items hygienists use to give our professional, special touch.

A valuable piece of equipment for the hygiene operatory is an intraoral camera. Images are used to motivate, educate, and assess care during the treatment process. When imaging is used consistently and cataloged, periodontal success or breakdown can be visually referred to for easy comparison. Seeing prior images of active disease and then seeing progress and stabilization is gratifying for patient and clinician alike. With a variety of cameras available at a range of affordable price tags, equipping the hygiene operatory is made simpler.

How the intraoral camera feels in one's hand, maneuvers about the arches, and the clarity of the images produced are all important. There are key factors to consider in regard to the handpiece. Is it lightweight, ergonomic, straight, or curved? Is the control and capture button at your fingertips or foot-controlled? You can make adjustments to the image on various cameras by operating a slide or twisting a switch on the handpiece.

Finding the best camera for your office requires looking into the features that suit the team's needs. True-life optimized images that are clear and undistorted are ideal. What's more, keep in mind when taking intraoral images that poor images are unimpressive.

Here are a few clinical tips to improve the picture:

  • Use a mouth mirror for retraction so the tongue does not touch the tooth and block a view of the lingual aspect.
  • Air dry the tooth surfaces so saliva is less reflective and does not appear as distorted bubbles on the occlusal surface.
  • Use the intraoral camera to evaluate and magnify (especially when not using magnifying eyewear) before-and-after treatment images.
  • Use the intraoral camera as a great way to introduce children to the dental office in a fun, nonthreatening way and keep them smiling!

When touching the oral environment, gloves are required. Plak Smackers has a fresh line of ambidextrous gloves called Perfect Touch. Patients and practitioners will be pleased at the texture finish of the gloves at work and also the flavor options. Glove varieties include cherry, vanilla, orange, grape, strawberry, bubble gum, and green apple.

Treating periodontal patients in an active disease state involves touching the perio pocket subgingivally by different modalities. Among those, surgery, ultrasonic, manual instrumentation, lasers, oral irrigation, and site-specific therapies may be used to bring the tissues to a healthy state. Orapharma, Inc. offers bioresorbable ARESTIN®, minocycline hydrochloride 1 mg, as an adjunct locally administered antibiotic (LAA).

Administering the microspheres is not complicated and very little time is needed to place the product. Using a plunger-type syringe, twist a prefilled cartridge, locked and ready. I show the patients the filled cartridge before administering it, and tell them it is like having tiny, yellow pollen sprinkled into their pockets and that this therapeutic will help kill perio bacteria, decrease bleeding, and improve pocket measurements. I have had success with placement when the tissues are also air-dried. If fluid fills the pocket during placement, the cartridge of microspheres may become a hard-to-push plug and require a new cartridge.

Hygiene products are worth touching! Use your hygiene touch to offer hands-on educated recommendations and deliver complete care.

The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.

About the Author

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis' Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].