Diet wars and more

March 1, 2006
We have all heard of “Star Wars,” but have you heard of “Diet Wars”? Betsy Reynolds, RDH, MS, has a program titled, “Diet Wars, Looking at Today’s Dieting Trends and Their Impact on Dental and Systemic Health.

We have all heard of “Star Wars,” but have you heard of “Diet Wars”? Betsy Reynolds, RDH, MS, has a program titled, “Diet Wars, Looking at Today’s Dieting Trends and Their Impact on Dental and Systemic Health.” Her course is designed to minimize the confusion of popular dietary strategies being used in America’s “Battle of the Bulge.” America’s obsession with weight loss has led to increasingly complex diets that impact general and oral health, yet many Americans are unaware of the effects of these trends. Betsy’s course provides participants with an overview of current diet trends such as the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet, and many other popular diet fads. In the relaxed manner of Betsy’s programs, she provides participants with a comprehensive nutritional counseling program that can be used for dental patients, as well as tools to recognize the possible sequelae of the dieting trends. Betsy believes that timely information can be given in a relaxed, fun-filled setting that maximizes learning.

Since dental hygienists have completed coursework in nutrition and nutritional counseling strategies, they are very knowledgeable about integrating dietary counseling into the practice setting. But it takes a team approach. The hygienist, the dentist, the assistant, and the business staff all must be educated in the benefits and intricacies of integrating nutritional counseling (or any additional service) into the dental hygiene practice. The “obesity epidemic” of the American population affects people of all ages and backgrounds. As health-care professionals, hygienists have the ability to influence their patients on this important health factor.

Over the past several years, Betsy has been providing continuing-education programs on oral piercing, the role of inflammation in cardiovascular health, biologic basis for disease prevention, advanced instrumentation technique, current dental therapeutic modalities, pediatric dental care, pharmacological considerations for the dental professional, implications of stress on oral and systemic health, oral pathology, and evidence-based decision making. While presenting these programs, she became aware of many participants’ and colleagues’ interest in innovative continuing-education programs. Many discussed the idea of receiving more information about diet trends. Betsy began researching the subject and was fascinated by how pertinent the topic is in today’s image-conscious society. She initially presented the nutritional program at a CE Extravaganza in California where it was enthusiastically received. It has rapidly become one of her most popular offerings.

Betsy always includes handouts that contain the information from the parts of her programs that she projects on screen. For her, this can present a challenge, because she is constantly updating her programs. She believes that it is important for course participants to listen and learn rather than be busy jotting down notes during the seminars. Having started presenting CE back in the days of two projectors and “lights out” in meetings, Betsy appreciates new technologies and the clarity in clinical pictures they provide, not to mention the ability to keep participants awake! She believes that learning takes place in a fun environment. To that end, she provides complex scientific information in analogies to which the audience can relate. Audience members are always encouraged to share insights, clinical experiences, and personal stories. She is constantly “on the move” during presentations so that she can engage all participants in the program - even the ones in the back of the room.

As a 1977 graduate of Idaho State University’s dental hygiene program, Betsy became a part-time clinical faculty member at the school early in her career. She immediately caught the “teaching bug” and knew that teaching would become an important part of her dental hygiene career path. She sought an advanced degree in oral biology at the University of Washington and has been teaching in dental and dental hygiene programs ever since. Like many continuing-education presenters, her interest in presenting courses to peers evolved as an extension of her teaching duties. As a faculty member, she was often called upon to provide community outreach projects, which entailed going off campus to present dental hygiene-related seminars. Through this work, she was recruited by several dental product companies to work as an educational

representative for dental hygiene programs. Over time, however, continuing education has become the primary focus of her professional endeavors. She is very proud to say that she is still involved in the educational pursuits of future dental hygienists as a member of a group of dedicated professionals who provide seminars to students to prepare them to take their National Board Examination.

If you have never met Betsy, the one thing you have to know is that humor goes with her wherever she goes! She truly believes that laughter is one of the best gifts that life gives to each of us. Her infectious laughter can bring a smile to anyone’s face. She also claims to have been blessed with little dignity!

This allows her to laugh in the face of trouble, such as when things go bad on “stage.” Recently, she was in my area to provide a program for our dental hygiene students. It had been arranged that she would present a program on Friday to one group of students and on Sunday to another group. I arrived at the venue to see how things were going prior to the event kick-off. Lo and behold, there was no Betsy. The sponsor of the course didn’t have her arriving until the day after she was to speak to the first group, and the hotel didn’t have a reservation for her until then. Now, how do you cover for a speaker at the last second? Luckily one of her colleagues was ready to pitch in, when the incredible sound of laughter appeared. Needless to say, there had been a miscommunication on travel arrangements, but it all worked out!

Betsy loves her audience. She considers it an honor that people take time out of their hectic lives to come and listen to her. But she hates the traveling part of continuing education, preferring that she not have to board another plane, wait out bad weather in another airport, or try to remember where she parked her car.

She has been an ADHA member for many years and is proud of the growth that she has seen in her chosen profession in the almost 30 years that she has been a part of dental hygiene. However, she believes in expanding practice acts to allow clinicians to serve communities that are lacking in resources.

Betsy’s passions are numerous. She is truly passionate about learning and loves to investigate new things, especially in science, and how to apply that information to practical uses. She is also passionate about meeting people. Her mother often told her that “she never met a stranger.” Whenever anyone comes into her life, she enjoys having a conversation with him or her. She has met some truly remarkable people who have made a lifelong impact on her just by sharing a few words. She is also passionate about giving of herself to those who may benefit from her assistance. Helping those in need is one of the best feelings in the world for her.

Betsy is one of dental hygiene’s finest continuing-education speakers. She makes subjects such as microbiology of the periodontium and pharmacology interesting and fun! To see for yourself, contact her at [email protected].