Th 225202

Fifth Annual Healthy Gums, Healthy Life Award of Distinction

Sept. 1, 2006
Eight amazing dental hygienists were honored with the 2006 Sunstar Butler/RDH magazine Healthy Gums, Healthy Life Award of Distinction in July at the RDH Under One Roof Conference in sunny Las Vegas.

Eight amazing dental hygienists were honored with the 2006 Sunstar Butler/RDH magazine Healthy Gums, Healthy Life Award of Distinction in July at the RDH Under One Roof Conference in sunny Las Vegas. Each submitted an essay or was nominated for the award earlier in the year, and winners were selected based on their answers of how they make a difference in their patients’ lives and in their community.

Each year, the winners’ circle embraces a unique group of hygienists, and this year was no different. Many in our group this year are seasoned dental hygiene professionals with an average of 23 years in the profession, but all are unique in their approach to dental hygiene, as well as their passion for volunteering. RDH and Sunstar Butler are excited to introduce RDH readers to the recipients of the 2006 Award of Distinction.

Tracy Lynn Collins, RDH
Hawthorne, New Jersey

Tracy, a graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, N.J., in 1995, has been practicing eight years in pediatric dentistry with many special needs patients.

Tracy Lynn Collins
Click here to enlarge image

“I am frequently told that my patients remind their parents about brushing and flossing because they want to make me proud,” Tracy said. “I am a pediatric dental hygienist and feel fortunate to be able to instill good home health care habits from a very young age.”

Tracy has written a children’s book about positive self-image she hopes to have published. She has volunteered at local high school career fairs and Brownie troops, and is in the process of awarding a senior student interested in the dental field a scholarship on her behalf.

• Little known fact: Met her husband while performing in a band. “I was one of the two lead vocalists and he was the lead guitarist.”

• Heroes: All of the men and women fighting the war on terror. “These soldiers are risking their lives for my freedom.”

• Five things she can’t work without: Universal scaler, Butler/GUM disclosing solution, an S204SD, Snap-A-Ray film holder, and temporary tattoos and a goofy sense of humor!

• Overcomes obstacles by: Making the best of the situation, not being afraid to ask for help, and expecting support!

Carol Dahlke, RDH
Dayton, Minnesota

Carol graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and has been practicing for 22 years. She is currently finishing her bachelor’s in dental hygiene in December 2006 at the University of Minnesota.

Carol Dahlke
Click here to enlarge image

“I have always valued lifelong learning, but now I have a greater appreciation for the latest research that increases the benefits of dental hygiene for my patients.”

She has been an active member of ADHA for 22 years, serving as delegate in the past to MDHA. She is a board member for the University of Minnesota School Of Dentistry Alumni Society, as well as a mentor to dental hygiene students.

Carol has been the clinical director of the Minnesota Special Olympics, Special Smiles program for the past seven years and was awarded the Outstanding Service Award from Special Olympics Minnesota in January 2006.

• Little known fact: She was struck by lightning while standing in front of a window inside her house.

• Hero: Her daughter, Krista. “Krista was born with Down’s syndrome and has faced many challenges over her lifetime. She is the best teacher I have ever had!”

• Five things she can’t work without: Her sense of humor, her magnification loupes, 11/12 gracey, ultrasonic scaler, and digital radiography.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Through perseverance. “Anything is possible if ones tries hard enough and believes in themselves. Find me something that can’t be done and I will show you a way to do it!”

Lisa A. Doyle, RDH, BS
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Lisa Doyle
Click here to enlarge image

“I feel it is important to let patients know life is about choices and allow them to take control of their overall health with my help and guidance,” Lisa says. A 1985 graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and a 21-year veteran, Lisa is aware that often patients make choices based not only on the information they receive but also on their emotions. She helps patients by incorporating their experiences into their dental treatment.

A proud ADHA member and Seattle Study Club regular, she attends monthly lunch-and-learn meetings to glean the most cutting-edge information about hygiene.

Lisa volunteers with Operation Blessing, providing dental services for people who cannot afford dental treatment, working locally with migrant workers. She also volunteers with the United Warrior Survivor Foundation (UWSF), an organization which supports wives and children who have lost husbands and fathers in the war on terror. Lisa and her husband raise money for the cause and are currently “constructing a foundation that will generate funds for the immediate needs of families of those killed in action.”

• Heroes: My parents.

• Five things she can’t work without: Intraoral camera, USI Scaler, loupes, Orascoptic chair, and dental team.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Tackling it head on.

Lisa Klockenteger, RDHAP
Paso Robles, California

Lisa comes from a pioneering family. Her great-grandfather was a Pony Express rider for the Texas Territory, and her grandmother’s family left Texas in the early 1900s after the family’s farm became too much to handle. The girls arrived in Los Angeles in a model-T car while the boys made the trip on horseback - all the way to California.

Lisa Klockenteger
Click here to enlarge image

Lisa continues the proud family tradition by being a solo practitioner (RDHAP) in California, having her own office in Paso Robles. She is the only office in the area offering a comprehensive hygiene program for local low-income patients, accepting Healthy Families and Medi-Cal reimbursement.

“I also see medically/physically handicapped people who live on their own. My office is non-invasive and looks like a home. It is non-hurried and the patients are seen in a private office without waiting for long hours as in a clinic. Appointments are made and no one is put on a waiting list.”

She reports having more than 500 patients, 90 percent of whom are low-income, fixed income, or have a disability of some sort. In practice for 24 years, she enjoys the freedom of flexible appointments and relaxed patients. She has an in-house massage therapist to relax patients and is a frequent guest on a local radio talk show, taking calls from listeners on various topics.

• Hero: My grandmother.

• Five things she can’t work without: Sharp instruments, thin ultrasonic tips, music, pillows, massage.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Education, exploring options, staying focused, and working through it.

Caron Shipley, RDH, BS
Olathe, Kansas

Caron is a 1979 graduate of the University of Minnesota in Duluth with an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, earning a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene education from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in 1993. She has more than 27 years of clinical practice.

Caron Shipley
Click here to enlarge image

Her years of experience have taught her: “The most important thing a hygienist can do is listen to a patient and ask questions. Gathering information on patients’ habits, genetic background, and concerns opens the door to educating them and teaching them how the oral cavity affects the whole body.”

Caron volunteers at the Kansas Mission of Mercy Program to provide dental care to those without access, as well as at the Leukemia Society of America, and the American Cancer Society.

“I am in the process of obtaining my extended care permit, which will allow me to provide access to care to people in nursing homes and school settings, who normally do not receive care. I am working with a program called Oral Health Kansas. We are currently writing grants to obtain funds to purchase equipment and supplies for a mobile dental unit. It will be the first program in Johnson County, Kansas. There are two to three in practice currently, statewide. It’s very exciting for the future of hygienists as well as the underserved population of Kansas!”

• Little known fact: Has a passion to provide care to the long-term care population, and loves to exercise.

• Hero: Her father. “He taught me so much through his daily actions about character and wisdom that I feel blessed every day to have had the privilege of being his daughter.”

• Five things she can’t work without: Her patients, great co-workers, ultrasonic scaler, sharp instruments, and a hand mirror for educating patients.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Evaluation, thought, prayer, and then doing her best.

Elaine Rose Tierney, RDH
Poughkeepsie, New York

Elaine Rose Tierney
Click here to enlarge image

Elaine graduated from Orange County Community College in 1988 and has been practicing dental hygiene for 18 years. She was a dental assistant for 12 years prior to becoming a hygienist. Elaine was nominated as being “the hygienist’s hygienist” as she is former award recipient Maureen Chodoba’s personal hygienist, and is also called as the “patient’s hygienist.” Elaine is described as gifted with a down-to-earth manner as well as great hands, clinical excellence, wonderful personality, and generous spirit.

“She is a gem and a treasure to our profession,” said Chodoba, who nominated Elaine for the award. “She is not afraid of progress in our profession. Instead, she embraces new opportunities to improve health care for her patients.”

Elaine is well known in her community because of her volunteer work with the Italian Center and the local chapter of Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.

• Little known fact: Loves cooking and chocolate.

• Heroes: Her husband, parents, and grandmother. “To me, a hero is someone who gives guidance and inspiration”

• Five things she can’t work without: Ultrasonic scaler, loupes, local and nitrous, digital X-rays, and dental aids.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Addressing the problem head-on, having a positive attitude, and working at it, trying until the situation is reversed.

Maureen Titus, RDHAP, BS
Los Osos, California

Maureen Titus
Click here to enlarge image

“Being part of a solution to a problem and not just talking about the problem is a personal goal,” writes Maureen Titus. Maureen graduated from Fresno City College in California in 1977 and has been practicing dental hygiene for 29 years. An avid CE attendee, Maureen, like Klockenteger, has an enhanced dental hygiene license in California - Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP) - which is used for her new business, Coast Smiles on Wheels.

“My goal with this new license is to provide dental hygiene services to homebound individuals who cannot travel to the traditional dental office. By improving access to oral health care with dental hygiene treatment, their overall health can be enhanced or improved.”

Always a volunteer in her community, Maureen has served as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for children in foster care, as well as dental health events throughout the years.

A former CDHA president, she has also held council chair, officer, ADHA delegate and local component leadership positions. Maureen is currently serving as vice president on the Partnership for the Children Board which provides support and fundraising to run La Clinicade Tolosa, a children’s dental clinic for low income families. She is also a First 5/First Smiles educator in California, which encourages dental providers to see young children in their practices.

• Little known fact: Is a belly dancer.

• Five things she can’t work without: Ultrasonic scaler, loupes, large-handled lightweight instruments, 11/12 explorer, and radiographs.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Identification, evaluation, and a how-to plan.

Jane Weiner, RDH
Tamarac, Florida

Jane Weiner
Click here to enlarge image

It seems that a formal introduction to Jane Weiner in RDH magazine is not necessary since she has been featured and honored many times in the past as a mentor, educator, speaker, and writer. However, her passion for hygiene finds her being honored for her patient skills and volunteer efforts as well.

Jane graduated from the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene in Boston in 1964 and has been practicing dental hygiene for 42 years.

“I try to let my patients know that I am not just cleaning their teeth but that I am hoping to help them understand the systemic involvement that can arise from a lack of appropriate dental care and how they can comply.”

Jane has volunteered by participating in dental screenings with Boys and Girls clubs and career development days at local schools.

• Little known fact: Jane is shy around people she doesn’t know. Well-known fact: Jane recently became a first time grandmother.

Heroes: Esther Wilkins (professional life), her parents (values and goals) and her sweet husband, Marty (“allowing me to do what I need to do”).

• Five things she can’t work without: A good employer to work with, not for, good sharp instruments, ultrasonics, pleasant atmosphere (including a cohesive and cooperative staff), and compliant patients.

• Overcomes obstacles by: Putting things into perspective and dealing with them, either working around them if it can’t be corrected or removing them as soon as possible. “Don’t dwell on it ... do not procrastinate about it ... be proactive.”

Five tips for patient compliance

Tracy Lynn Collins, RDH

1. Gain trusting relationships. Never make a promise you can’t keep. I recommend writing a quick note of encouragement daily to one patient each day. Try to choose the patient you feel needs it the most, a patient who has a big event approaching, a patient who had his or her first cavity-free visit, or maybe had poor OH that needed some reviewing. This lets them feel you are in a relationship.

2. Make it fun and exciting. March to the X-ray machine, or maybe even tip-toe like a mouse. Mix some interesting new flavors of prophy pastes and flourides. My personal favorite is S’mores flouride! The kids love it! We often play mad scientist.

3. Get on the patient’s level. It can’t always be a conversation about teeth and home care. Show interest in their interests too! Try to remember (or write it down in a specific place in the chart) an upcoming summer vacation, important test, play date, favorite color, ice cream, etc. Most people want to talk about themselves, not just listen to you preach.

4. Give them a specific reason to come back. An example would be that Johnny is accumulating an awful lot of tartar behind his front teeth. When he comes back in three months, we’ll make sure it has decreased with the new instructions we practiced today. In three months, examine the area and remind him of what the issue was and re-evaluate.

5. Reward system. Always praise good and expected behaviors with stickers and prizes. In my office, we have a wheel like on “Wheel of Fortune.” The patients each receive a wheel card, which is brought in at all visits. Punches in the shape of a tooth are given for things such as a brushing score of 85 percent or higher, no cavities, on-time for appointment, keeping appointments, and, for ortho patients, having no broken parts! When the wheel is filled, they spin. The prizes are constantly changed, according to season and demand. A grand prize could be an iPod Shuffle or a Waterpik. Kids and adults all love it!

Five tips for patient compliance

Carol Dahlke, RDH

1. Specify the task to the patient. What works for some patients will not work for others. For example, I know that patient will not use a daily supplemental fluoride rinse, because it is another thing to do. But he will use a toothpaste. So I will recommend that he use a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste once a day.

2. Show enthusiasm. When I am being enthusiastic about a new task, the patient is more likely to become engaged in his or her self-care.

3. Get to know your patient. When we care enough to take the time to get to know someone, a mutual trust is created. They will respect you, and I find that the patients are more likely to comply once they trust me.

4. Use technology! I use the intraoral camera to show patients the areas of concern in their mouth. By showing them a cracked tooth, they can understand why that tooth needs to be covered with a crown. When I show them the red, puffy areas on a large screen, it is easier for them to distinguish healthy vs. unhealthy areas.

5. Give samples. I love to give samples of new products to my patients. It is wonderful to utilize the representatives of various companies who stop by the office with new product samples. Older products are always great too, but it is fun to give out the “latest” in products.

Five tips for patient compliance

Lisa A. Doyle, RDH, BS

1. I praise my patients and applaud them for their efforts. I acknowledge the positive steps they have taken with their health and home care by giving them a pat on the back and a big hug.

2. I give my patients hope by letting them know they are not the only ones in their situation and that I am here for support and guidance. Together we determine the best long-term solutions for their specific situation.

3. I show patients their progression by using visuals such as before-and-after pictures, documentation indicating decreased plaque and periodontal readings. Together we incorporate the best tools for their specific needs. If a patient doesn’t like to floss, suggesting alternatives such as toothpicks, floss holders or proxi-brushes gives a variety of options and choices.

4. I treat patients with respect and dignity by discussing treatment in terms they can understand. I invite and encourage them to take an active part in their care. When a patient gains trust and realizes our concern for them, then compliance increases tremendously.

5. I send patients a personal note or e-mail from home to check in with them. I want them to know that I am a friend as well as their health-care professional and that they may contact me if they have any questions or concerns.

Five tips for patient compliance

Lisa Klockenteger, RDHAP

1. Take a thorough health history and listen to your patient carefully as you do. You can learn a lot about a person this way and how to communicate more effectively.

2. Listen to the patient throughout the appointment. Do not come to any hasty conclusions on where they are coming from until you have heard them out.

3. Ask them about their day, week, or past few months. And then come up with creative ideas as to how they can put improved oral hygiene into their own perspective. They must ultimatley decide how they will incorporate new habits into their life.

4. Keep it simple.

5. Do not push too hard. Let them grab onto the idea and run with it. Follow up at the next visit in a gentle caring manner. You will be rewarded 10 times over and you will have faithful and respectful patients.

Five tips for patient compliance

Caron Shipley, RDH

1. Listen to the patient, find out what hinders a patient’s compliance (arthritis, bad habits, lack of interest, laziness, or just not understanding what needs to be done and why).

2. Educate the patient (trying not to preach), about the positive health effects of good home care. After finding the cause of non-compliance, use whatever tools are available to teach the patient (intraoral camera, disclosing solution, probing readings, using a hand mirror to show patients areas of concern). One picture is worth a thousand words! Also providing articles (evidence) available on oral health in relation to one’s overall body is a great tool.

3. Find the tools that work for each patient. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding what works for the individual person. Some people do better with electric toothbrushes; others prefer a manual toothbrush. Some like flossing by hand; others may need a flossholder. There are so many alternative tools. I firmly believe doing something is better than nothing. So if a patient can only manipulate a rubber tip stimulator, I want to help the patient perfect using it. If it doesn’t seem to be working, we’ll explore another option that the patient is comfortable trying. If laziness is the problem, I try to teach the patient ways to change habits, such as brushing after dinner instead of at bedtime before they get too tired. Giving them options opens the door for better compliance.

4. I try to share my enthusiasm with my patients on all the benefits of having a clean, healthy mouth. Complimenting them on their accomplishments is crucial to motivating them to continue. I live a healthy life myself, practicing what I teach, and hopefully my patients see the benefits. I try to empathize with my patients and share my past experiences to help them develop new habits. They like it when we can relate to their obstacles. They understand that we’re not perfect either, and we had to learn and work on changing some of our own bad habits.

5. Seeing the patient on the proper interval to re-evaluate both home care and the health of their mouth is crucial. Praising good changes made by the patient and showing them the results is critical. Comparing intraoral pictures, or disclosing and showing them in a mirror the improvements achieved, helps to reinforce the good behavior. If no improvement has been made, keeping the patient on the shorter interval and approaching their concerns and obstacles as a team (the patient and me) allows us to try a different approach. I won’t give up and I hope to motivate the patient to do the same!

Five tips for patient compliance

Elaine Tierney, RDH

1. Be down-to-earth in your approach to all patients. Never intimidate. Reach out to them at a level where they will feel comfortable.

2. Always remember that each and every patient is an individual. We all have our differences, but also remember that we all have our similarities. You may not be all that different from that patient who seems to be a challenge! Reach out to them! See them as a whole person, not just a dental patient.

3. Embrace the changes that are being made in bridging the distance between medicine and dentistry. This is a time of positive change in the interest of total body/systemic health. Express this to your patients.

4. Have literature available for your patients regarding oral hygiene, oral health in relationship to total body health, and new trends in dentistry. There is so much information that is available! Utilize it for the benefit of your patients! They will appreciate it and be motivated to play an active role in their health.

5. Educate your patients about what a dental hygienist is, what we are qualified and licensed to do, and what we can do as their health-care provider. In this day and age, it is still amazing that many people have no idea what a dental hygienist really is! Strive for excellence, show them what you can do for them, and what they can do for themselves!

Five tips for patient compliance

Maureen Titus, RDHAP, BS

1. Repetitive encouragement - This is a more positive statement than “nagging.” Long-time clients/patients have been given oral health-care instructions for several years and it becomes expected or dreaded at each visit. Coming up with new ways of encouragement is challenging but worth the effort. New scientific findings can be shared to change the messages and people appreciate that you are keeping up with continuing education.

2. Humor - Keeping a positive attitude and a sense of humor with patients/clients works well in my experience. Each individual responds uniquely, and not making them feel harassed is what I attempt to do.

3. Visual - Many people need to “see” how a technique is done, either in their mouth or with a model. Verbal instructions are not as effective with visual learners. I have found if they “feel” a specific technique in their own mouth, they respond favorably. Having them see what their tissue looks like is a real eye-opening experience.

4. Honesty - No lying to anyone on the condition of their oral health; straightforward answers are best. Letting them know we will do the best we can in our office or refer them to a specialist, whatever is the most appropiate treatment for their specific situation. Explain possible systemic health links and results of not following through with recommended treatment.

5. Customized oral health education - Considering the age, stage of life, health issues, physical/mental abilities for each person is critical for compliance. Instructing a teenager is different than instructing an 80-year-old.

Five tips for patient compliance

Jane Weiner, RDH

1. Be understanding of your patient's needs and abilities, dental knowledge, and value system.

2. Do not offer the patient too much information at one time. It is better to teach the patient in small doses and that way they will comply more readily in most cases.

3. Always offer the patient samples of items that you wish them to use — and if you cannot &mdahsh; tell them where they can buy the items and have coupons for them to get a discount.

4. Always follow up with your patients to see how they are doing and if there is anything that you can do to be of more help to them to make compliance easier.

5. Stay on top of your continuing education and product information. Everyone's needs are different and you need to personalize things for each patient.

Cathleen Terhune Alty, RDH, is a frequent contributor. She is based in Clarkston, Mich.