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Ask Our Authors: Tools that take your hygiene appointment above and beyond

April 1, 2019
Dental hygiene products are only one part of the equation, but they can help keep clinicians safe and patients healthy, happy, and loyal to the practice. Here are some recent recommendations from our advisory board.

Products are only one part of the dental hygiene equation, but they can go a long way toward taking a dental hygiene appointment from an annoying necessity—or worse, a painful, fearful experience—to an encounter that results in healthy and happy patients. They can also help keep you safe and practicing without pain. Here are a few things our editorial advisory board has found handy lately!

Kristin Goodfellow, RDH

Hygienists set the standard of care. The patient spends more time in the hygiene chair than anywhere else in the office. In that window we are expected to reduce fears, increase comfort, and create a relationship—all while providing top-notch care. This can be challenging, but thankfully there are choices we can make to help us reach our goals. Choosing products that can aid us in areas that create patient fear and discomfort can impact their views on our practice and our skills.

The DentalVibe Comfort Injection System: Nothing is worse than having to give an anxiety-ridden patient an injection. Many patients judge RDHs and doctors on their ability to give painless injections, and meeting that expectation can change patient perceptions. I use the DentalVibe because it helps to distract patients from the pain and helps them to feel more comfortable. It can remove both the fear and discomfort that patients experience during their appointments.

Amber Auger, MPH, RDH

MouthWatch intraoral camera: This small yet powerful camera is USB compatible, lightweight, costs under $300, and captures high-quality intraoral images. Each camera has six LED lights that work to capture sharp and clear images in a resolution of 640 x 480. The MouthWatch camera is the perfect solution for offices no matter the size. Each treatment room should have a camera, because evidence of the patient’s oral health and restorative needs can be captured in an image. It is an extremely affordable intraoral technology that is easy to use within existing practice software.

MouthMate: This handheld device allows patients to protect extraction sites, implants, bone grafts, tissue grafts, biopsies, mouth sores, orthodontics, and canker sores. The device works to protect and retract the cheek to allow for proper home care without compromising healing at home. Chairside, I like to use the oval shaped retractor when taking intraoral images, or when explaining home care to retract a tight lower or upper lip. Patients can implement the product at home to effectively clean around healing sites, which decreases the plaque on the adjacent teeth and gums.

Amber Metro-Sanchez, BA, RDH

When it comes to working as a dental hygienist, having the right equipment and supplies at your disposal makes all the difference. Anything that saves us time and helps protect our bodies from injury is an invaluable asset. Any product that can help us provide the best possible care to our patients is a worthwhile investment. Here are a few of my newly discovered favorites.

Hu-Friedy Titanium Implant Scalers: I acquired these instruments at the ADHA convention this past summer, and I don’t know how I ever worked without them. I am beyond impressed with them, to say the least. These scalers are extremely flexible and much slimmer than the previous implant scalers that I had used. They come in a set of five that covers all my patients’ periodontal needs, and I finally feel like I can be confident in my ability to effectively remove calculus and biofilm from implant surfaces. They are even colored a beautiful teal hue that makes them easy to identify during patient care.

FluoriMax varnish (Elevate Oral Health): This unique varnish makes fluoride application as easy as possible. It works best when placed on teeth that are wet, and dries in a matter of a few seconds, which allows me to forgo using an air/water syringe for this procedure. This formulation contains a shellac instead of the sticky resin materials typically found in other varnishes. This varnish feels much thinner than what I am accustomed to using, leading to a high level of patient satisfaction.

Pain-Free Gel Dentin Desensitizer (Parkell): This product has been another instant winner for me. Anytime a patient has a sensitive tooth due to dentin exposure, Pain-Free Gel is my quick and easy remedy. This brush-on formula requires no light curing and can be placed in less than a minute. Relief is immediate and long-lasting. I have had many situations where another sensitivity product works for some people and not others, but this one has been a consistent solution for me and my patients.

Staci Violante, MSDH, RDH

There are so many products on the market today that can enhance the dental hygiene care visit. Over the course of my 21-year dental hygiene clinical career and attending the UOR conferences, I’ve been exposed to and introduced to an abundance of products from rinses to hand lotions, anything that would improve my patient visits and help me provide optimal patient care.

One of my products of choice is my ergonomic saddle-style stool. I have chronic shoulder pain from practicing for so many years and some of those years were not always utilizing the best ergonomics. I truly believe it was due to my outdated operator’s chair. Early on, it had started affecting my productivity and had made me want to stop practicing. I had decided to make the switch after seeing one of the saddle seats given away at the last UOR conference. It has changed my way of practicing and has lessened my shoulder pain immensely. Saddle-style stools place you “in a ‘tripod’ position with the hips slightly flexed and spread apart, which is the most stabilized position for the hip joint.”1

I find it easier to stay in a neutral position, move around, go from a sitting to standing position and stay relaxed even in operatories with limited space. It has made a vast change in my patient care.


1. Valachi B. The ergonomic benefits of saddle-style stools. http://www.dentalproductsreport.com/dental/article/ergonomic-benefits-saddle-style-stools. Published February 8, 2017.