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A group discussion of 'Emerging Trends'

March 1, 2004
There are, of course, several "roundtable" symposiums where a large group of dental professionals are invited to discuss various professional issues.

Three RDH columnists share their perspectives about a symposium.

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Editor's note: There are, of course, several "roundtable" symposiums where a large group of dental professionals are invited to discuss various professional issues. Many of them, however, focus on — or clearly favor — the opinions of dentists. While Philips Oral Healthcare does solicit input from dentists (as well as other members of the dental profession), the company's efforts to specifically bring dental hygienists together for a "roundtable" type of gathering is noteworthy. RDH is not endorsing a specific product with this article, but is merely trying to show the benefits of networking that occurs with such symposiums. Three RDH columnists — Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, and Anne Guignon, RDH, were among the guests at the symposium described below.

by Anne Nugent Guignon, RDH, MPH, author of the "Comfort Zone" column

A Pebble in the Pond
Drop a pebble into a pond.
See if it will ripple.
Drop another pebble into the pond
See if its ripple will go farther.

Can dental hygienists impact the oral health care of their patients? Can we improve the general health of those that we treat day after day? Emerging trends in oral care is the vision of Philips Oral Healthcare — a vision that is focused on dental hygienists.

Philips understands that education is not only an essential element of progress it is the cornerstone. In

2003, the company brought a group of educators, writers, and clinicians together in a non-stressful atmosphere to learn about emerging research in plaque biofilms. Attendees were asked to share this information with hygienists everywhere. The information about biofilms and their role in dental infections has been included in continuing education programs and journal articles ever since. Grass roots hygienists are getting an opportunity to see and hear the cutting edge research as a result of that symposium. Just like a pebble creating ripples on a quiet pond.

The success of last year's conference reinforced Philips' commitment to our profession. Most guests invited this year were first time attendees. The 2004 focus was on dental hygiene practice in North America. This year's conference had the same low-key atmosphere as last year. Everyone was encouraged everyone to network and share ideas and information.

Program topics focused on the complex relationships of systemic disease to oral health and ranged from diabetes to cardiac disease to how clinicians relate to patients in a clinical setting. Philips knows dental hygienists. The company is willing to support our efforts to help achieve optimal oral health for those that we care for so much. Philips knows that dental hygienists matter.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, author of the "From the Podium" column

As a continuing education speaker, RDH columnist and clinical hygienist, I was invited to attend this year's Philips Oral Healthcare Symposium on "Emerging Trends in Oral Care." Last year's symposium brought together experts in the field of biofilms, and, since I had not attended, I didn't know what to expect at this year's program.

On the first morning of the symposium, we discussed the hygienist's role in trust-based relationships, the link between periodontal diseases and diabetes and the role of inflammation in periodontal diseases. During the afternoon session, the role of periodontal diseases and pre-term, low birth weight babies was discussed. Question-and-answer sessions were set up following the programs to allow the approximately 80 invitation-only hygienists from the United States and Canada to query the presenters on their topics.

The second day offered similar fast-paced, informative programs on the psychological stages of behavior change and how they relate to dental hygiene, as well as programs on Sonicare technologies and products. Again, there were question-and-answer sessions. We ended each day with dinner, conversation, music and comedy with our many new-found friends or renewed old friendships.

Philips presented the information on the Sonicare in a very tasteful and professional manner. The symposium was about education and networking. Product information was available as a backdrop to the education, which I, for one, appreciated. As a clinical hygienist, I review the pros and cons of using various products. I like to make up my own mind, based on clinical and research information available, and not be swayed by a company's "sales pitch." The symposium was not a sales pitch, but a great educational and networking experience.

Philips is definitely a company that believes in and values dental hygienists.

by Dianne D. Glasscoe, RDH, BS, author of the "Staff Rx" column

Philips Oral Healthcare, maker of the Sonicare® toothbrush, sponsored a meeting in early January near Snoqualmie, Wash., titled "Emerging Trends in Oral Care Symposium." The meeting was held at beautiful Salish Lodge up in the mountains. Attendees were invited guests and included dental educators, speakers, and authors from all over the United States.

Guests were privileged to hear many outstanding speakers address the relationship between oral and systemic health. Those speakers included Drs. Brian Mealey, Steven Offenbacher, Tom Van Dyke, and Marjorie Jeffcoat. Also, we heard from communication experts Suzanne Boswell and Dr. John Norcross. Here are the salient points I learned from each speaker.

• Dr. Mealey — Diabetes affects over 16 million people in the United States, and 1.3 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Periodontal disease and diabetes are closely linked, and the presence of one disease exacerbates the other. The presence of periodontal disease makes glycemic control much more difficult. Diabetics with severe periodontal disease often benefit from systemic antibiotics (tetracycline). Well-controlled diabetics are high risk for hypoglycemia episodes in the dental chair, so always be prepared with either cola, juice, or tubes of cake icing. Have the diabetic patient to bring their glucometer with them to their appointment to get a chairside glucose reading, much like an asthmatic would bring an inhaler.

• Dr. Offenbacher — Pregnant women with periodontal disease have a two- to eight-fold greater chance for a pre-term, low birthweight baby. Periodontal disease causes inflammatory stress, which causes a risk for cardiovascular disease. The indicator is elevated levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, an inflammatory marker produced in the liver.

• Dr. Van Dyke — His work centers around animal models and periodontitis. P. gingivalis introduced on ligatures tied on the second premolar of rabbits produced periodontitis. Topical application of Lipoxin analogue (LxA) will inhibit the onset and progression of ligature induced periodontitis. Studies continue to evaluate whether local inflammation can affect the systemic inflammatory response.

• Dr. Jeffcoat — Research centers around mothers who had preterm babies. The test group numbered over 3,000 women. The results were that periodontal treatment reduced the incidence of preterm birth. Also, scaling and root planning provided the greatest reduction in the incidence of preterm birth.

Juliana Kim, RDH, BS, did a wonderful job of coordinating speakers and keeping the whole program on schedule.

The people at Philips feel very strongly that their product is superior to anything on the market, and they have spent thousands of dollars on research, development, and marketing. I don't know of another company anywhere that goes to the expense of flying 50-plus people to a special location, furnish wonderful accommodations, bring in world class speakers for continuing education, and treat us royally. For me as a speaker, the whole weekend was a wonderful time of learning, networking, and fun.