Content Dam Rdh En Articles Print Volume 38 Issue 3 Content Dam Need A Quick Reference Guide Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Need a quick reference guide?

March 1, 2018
Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, offers an easy guide for dental hygienists to share with their patients when educating them about oral-systemic links. 
Author’s table visually links up systemic conditions

Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, BS, MEd, PhD

For the last several months, I’ve been writing about the oral-systemic link between periodontal disease and several systemic diseases. This month, I want to provide readers with a reference guide of how these diseases link with periodontal disease and the information that can be useful for hygienists while treating their patients.

With those patients who have periodontal disease, we’ve been seeing how the inflammation of their gingival tissue can affect other systemic disease processes. Use this guide to ask more in-depth medical history questions. We need to concentrate on explaining the inflammatory process to our patients. This explanation can help patients understand how their oral health might affect the other disease processes they’re dealing with. It may be a way to encourage them to take better care of their oral health and take your suggestions more seriously.

With the US population living longer and many people keeping most of their teeth, diverse health issues and periodontal disease will be a topic we’ll be dealing with more in our practices. We need to make sure that our patients understand that their periodontal health truly does affect their overall health.

Becoming collaborative partners with other medical professionals will become increasingly more common as the medical field continues to make the link between the mouth and the rest of the body. Asking more in-depth medical history questions will help us know more about our patients’ overall health so we can better serve them. One of the tools we have at our disposal is salivary diagnostics testing. By doing in-office saliva testing, we can help decrease the inflammatory burden that many of our periodontal patients experience.

I hope you have a fulfilling and wonderful New Year, and that you can help many of your patients become healthier, not only with their oral health, but with their overall health. Have a great 2018!

Happy scaling!

JANNETTE WHISENHUNT,RDH, BS, MEd, PhD, is the Department Chair of Dental Education at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C. Dr. Whisenhunt has taught since 1987 in the dental hygiene and dental assisting curricula. She has a love for students and served as the state student advisor for nine years and has won the student Advisor of the Year award from ADHA in the past. Her teaching interests are in oral cancer, ethics, infection control, emergencies and orofacial anatomy. Dr. Whisenhunt also has a small continuing education business where she provides CE courses for dental practices and local associations. She can be reached at [email protected].