Content Dam Rdh En Articles Print Volume 38 Issue 3 Content Dam Learning About Implant Care Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Learning about implant care

March 1, 2018
Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, profiles Shavonne Healy, RDH, and Melissa Obrotka, RDH, who lead seminars on implant care.
Seminars presented by Healy and Obrotka explain the importance of implant maintenance

Ann-Marie C. Depalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

With implant surgical and restorative markets forecasted to reach $12.32 billion by 2021, dental professionals will encounter patients who are either candidates for implants or have implants currently. Do you know what to expect with a patient with implants and how to decide whether the area is healthy or exhibits peri-implant disease? With the increased incidence of peri-implant diseases, implant maintenance is an important aspect of total implant care and long-term success.

Maintenance protocols vary but Shavonne Healy, RDH, BSDH, and Melissa Obrotka, RDH, BBAOM, have developed a company, RDH Innovations, that provide strategies for safe, effective implant maintenance care and information. Their programs include:

  • “Dental Implants Uncovered: Prevention, Detection and Intervention”

  • “Are You Prepared to Treat the Terminator? Caring for Patients with Advanced Implant Supported Prosthesis”

  • “A Dental Hygienist in Oral Surgery? Introducing the Implant Care Practitioner.”

The “Dental Implants Uncovered” program reviews:

- The etiology and factors associated with peri-implant diseases

- Froum and Rosen’s peri-implantitis classification system

- Implant surface characteristics and prosthetic design

- Decontamination protocols and combination therapies for the management of peri-implant diseases.

The “Are You Prepared to Treat the Terminator” program discusses patients with partial and full mouth implant rehabilitation, how the care differs from the natural dentition, and how to recognize the need for referrals to specialized care. The “Hygienist in Oral Surgery” program is offered to oral surgery practices to provide the how-to’s of creating an effective implant care team that will maintain patients’ implants and overall health.

Shavonne and Melissa created RDH Innovations to provide high-quality, well-organized content that has been developed with love and compassion. Both are practicing implant care practitioners and include many of their patients in the presentations. Open discussions are important aspect of the RDH Innovations programs since they foster intra-professional dialogue and learning, especially when hygienists and dentists participate together offering different provider perspectives. The programs are centered around PowerPoints, but with discussions and hand-on experiences. Their presentations are fun with light-heartedness in the midst of learning. They make a complicated topic easy to understand. They do not provide handouts but recommend that participants subscribe to journals or purchase the texts that they use for their research.

Shavonne Healy, RDH, BSDH, and Melissa Obrotka, RDH, BBAOM, pose before a seminar at a recent dental conference.

Shavonne began her journey into implant education when she had a patient who was an oral surgeon. He asked her if she could help to create a video demonstrating home-care instructions to his implant patients. At the time, she knew nothing about implant maintenance and decided to accept the challenge and learn as much as she could.

Melissa began working in a prosthetic practice at about the same time and was exposed to advanced implant dentistry there. She was inquisitive with her doctors since her previous implant knowledge was very basic. She had little experience with the complicated full arch restorative implant cases that many of her patients presented with. Through their mentorship and her research, she increased her knowledge of implants.

Melissa and Shavonne met at an ADHA annual meeting, and their friendship was born from their shared passion and their interest in implants. Both realized that little is taught in dental hygiene programs about implants, and they wanted to empower hygienists to learn how to care for these patients. RDH Innovations was developed as a result of that collaboration.

Shavonne is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport: Fones School of Dental Hygiene. She is an active member of ADHA, president of the District of Columbia Dental Hygienists’ Association, member of the Association of Implant Auxiliaries (ADIA), and volunteer clinical adjunct instructor at Howard University College of Dentistry. Melissa’s dental journey began as an assistant prior to entering dental hygiene school at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. She currently practices as an implant care practitioner in a prosthetic practice in New Jersey while also serving as a clinical adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is a member of ADHA, NJDHA, ADIA, and several other professional associations along with being a corporate key-opinion leader. Both feel that being life-long learners is essential to the profession.

Shavonne and Melissa like to present their programs in a town hall fashion to allow everyone to participate in the discussions. Implant dentistry can be overwhelming for those new to the subject, so they try to make it as interesting and fun as possible. They know the amazing feeling that comes from sharing knowledge and empowering others in networking and learning. Both believe the best is yet to come in both their careers and in dental hygiene. Any awards or accolades that they have received are because of their passion for dental hygiene and because it was the “right thing to do.” There are many “woulda, shoulda, coulda” moments in each of their lives, but they have learned from their experiences and have embraced them as learning moments to propel them to future endeavors.

As a newbie hygienist, Melissa relied on colleagues and former professors for mentorship. Now as she has grown in the profession becoming more actively involved in her component has offered mentorship opportunities for her to pay that mentorship forward. She will often have former students shadow her in private practice. She would like to do more outreach and mission work in the future. If Shavonne were not a hygienist, she feels she would be a chef or yoga instructor.

Both feel that keeping balance is important in their lives and need to be cognizant of that on a day-to-day basis. They believe that centering oneself is easy; staying there takes practice and determination. Shavonne and Melissa believe their mission is to help others see their potential and achieve what they don’t think is possible. They are passionate about spreading their message in a way that motivates and uplifts others. As they venture into uncharted areas, they are mindful of their purpose and trust that guides them through any uncertainty or doubt.

For more information about Shavonne or Melissa, visit the Dental Implant Uncovered page on Facebook. It’s a closed Facebook dental implant group created for dental hygienists.

Thought for the month: “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].