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The personal touch

Sept. 1, 2005
Many practitioners have patients or friends who suffer from Bell’s Palsy, stroke, Lyme disease, or other disorders that affect the facial muscles.

Many practitioners have patients or friends who suffer from Bell’s Palsy, stroke, Lyme disease, or other disorders that affect the facial muscles. However, very few dental professionals understand the treatment options, referral patterns and overall prognosis of facial paralysis. Barbara Dawidjan, RDH, MEd, hopes to enlighten the dental profession through her program, “Facial paralysis: Don’t take your smile for granted,” because it is not often addressed in literature or CE programs. Barbara discusses causes, treatment options, and dental implications and concerns for dental practitioners. Her interest in this topic came about from her own experiences, both good and bad. In her program she shares information from a personal case study while incorporating scientific information.

In addition to the paralysis program, Barbara offers several hands-on courses. She enjoys presenting hands-on topics because participants gain not only new information, but experience through hands-on learning. By actually doing the topic, participants should feel comfortable using it in their offices. Barbara’s hands-on lectures include “The dental hygiene process of care: The assessment phase” and “Can you grasp this: Ergo solutions.”

The assessment program covers a hands-on extra/intra oral exam, pathology review, and perio assessment. The perio assessment component includes hands-on probing and case studies, updates for practitioners who are not recent graduates, and refreshes participants on the current standards of care in the dental hygiene assessment.

The ergonomic program is team taught, and gives participants a background on ergonomic concerns for the dental professional in regards to upper extremity disorders. Alternative grasps, available options, and new equipment are just a few of the topics discussed. All team members benefit from this program because each member can return to the office and evaluate each other’s positioning, posture, etc., as it relates to their particular job.

Each of Barbara’s programs is the result of her own experiences. She developed the facial paralysis program because she once had it herself, while the assessment and ergonomic courses evolved from her role as a dental hygiene educator. She is keenly aware of the effects of cumulative stress disorders, and that these problems can be reduced or eliminated through good ergonomic behaviors. She also understands the need for practicing hygienists to constantly remain on the cutting edge of current assessments and instrumentation.

Barbara provides participants with handouts for further reference. These allow audience members to listen and participate without being concerned about taking notes. She enjoys presenting the hands-on programs because they are limited in size, offer one-on-one instruction, and encourage interaction between participants. Presenting hands-on programs can be challenging because she has to design and implement activities that can be accomplished within a limited space and time. Due to the limited class size, most of Barbara’s hands-on programs fill up early.

Teaching CE programs helps Barbara develop not only a wealth of information, but gives her contact with experienced and knowledgeable participants. She encourages participants to share their experiences.

Barbara, who was recently named the Dental Educator of the Year for Massachusetts, received her dental hygiene degree from Quinsigamond College and her masters in education from Worcester State College. She is currently a professor of dental hygiene at Quinsigamond, where’s she’s known as the “Queen of Visual Aids,” and loves being at her alma mater teaching dental hygiene students.

Barbara’s passions reflect her boundless energy. She loves teaching, and instills the ideal that with continued education, her students will have limitless opportunities in dental hygiene. She has been a SADHA advisor for 15 years and an ADHA member for more than 25 years, and serves as a role model for students to join and become active in their professional organization. Barbara includes ADHA recruitment in her CE programs, but realizes it begins at the student level. She has taught internationally and feels privileged that dental hygiene has afforded her so many opportunities.

She has a passion for public health dental hygiene and encourages her students to become involved in service-learning activities. However, she is concerned about the dental hygiene educator shortage and is currently researching the topic.

For information about Barbara’s odyssey with facial paralysis, see Access magazine (ADHA), February 2005, pages 24 -27.

Dawidjan’s upcoming programs

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• Massachusetts DHA Conference, Sept. 24-25, Crowne Plaza, Natick, MA

• Rhode Island DHA Annual Session, Nov. 6, Radisson Hotel, Warwick, RI

• Yankee Dental Congress, January 2006, Boston, MA

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, is currently a faculty member at Mt. Ida College’s dental hygiene program after spending more than 25 years in private practice. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in education in instructional design. A member of several professional dental hygiene associations, 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].