Tom’s of Maine

Sept. 1, 2006
Do you know the ingredients of the products you recommend to patients? Do you know if the products work? Are they safe?

Do you know the ingredients of the products you recommend to patients? Do you know if the products work? Are they safe? Are all the ingredients necessary and specific for that product? Are you looking for alternative products for some of your health-conscious patients?

The answers to these and other questions regarding ingredients and label reading are explored in the program “Working With Nature To Make a Difference.” This is an introduction to natural oral care products and the science behind them, created by the Tom’s of Maine Professional Advocacy Division. Director Kerry Maguire, DDS, MSPH, team leader Susanne Kuehl, RDH, and New England advocate Wendy St. Cyr, RDH, BS, began the program. They also discuss the commitment to environmental accountability and social responsibility championed by Tom and Kate Chappell, co-founders of Tom’s of Maine. The program is designed to create more questions than answers about over-the-counter oral care products.

More than ever, patients want products that deliver more than effective oral care. Whether their interest stems from sensitivity to certain ingredients, a concern for the environment, or a belief in the efficacy of natural treatment, dental professionals need to be able to answer patients’ questions. Dental professionals who have attended this presentation report feeling confident in their recommendations to patients. They express a strong desire to investigate ingredients and label claims, and review marketing and product advertisements with renewed interest and observations. Critical thinking and reflection on the role of evidenced-based dentistry in professional recommendations becomes essential.

Objectives of the program include:

The reasons behind professional recommendations
✶ How toothpaste is made
✶ Definition of “natural” ingredients
✶ Clinical testing, research, and FDA/ADA guidelines
✶ Environmental awareness and social responsibility
✶ Natural care consumers: Who are they? What do they look like?

The “Working With Nature To Make a Difference” program is compiled of three segments:

The Science of Natural Care
➋ The Building Blocks of Natural Care
➌ The Values of Natural Care

The course is dynamic and interactive. Participants’ questions and professional experiences often lead to discussions that create momentum for further research ideas. The vision of the Tom’s of Maine Professional Advocacy team is to become the trusted partner among oral health professionals and patients by offering natural care products with demonstrated efficacy. The goal of the program is to provide new, credible, and thought-provoking educational material to enhance patient-centered care.

In addition, Tom’s of Maine has created “Dental Health for All, a Common Good Partnership” to address access to oral health care. Support for targeted nonprofit community dental clinics has been established by this program and is maintained by partnerships with dental professionals who have similar goals.

The Professional Advocacy team members of Tom’s of Maine have varied backgrounds, which lead them to promote the natural care products. Each infuses some of her own interests and background into the program.

Wendy St. Cyr is a graduate of Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists. She earned a degree in health administration services with an emphasis on instructional design from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. One of her most profound experiences was returning to higher education as an educator and student simultaneously. As an adjunct clinical instructor, she worked with several inspiring dental hygiene educators who encouraged her to pursue a higher degree and continued opportunities within organized professional dental hygiene. Associating with these professionals provided the foundation on which Wendy presents her program. She is an active ADHA member and was a past ADHA Council on Member Services participant. She encourages membership in organized dental hygiene. She believes that the profession must be a self-regulated, policy-making member of a multifunctional, diverse health-care team.

Susanne Kuehl, RDH, joined Tom’s of Maine in 2003 as the Professional Advocacy team leader and acts as a liaison between industry and the oral

health professions. A graduate of Westbrook College, Susanne has more than 25 years of clinical experience. She has been involved with dental product companies for a number of years, and is a past president of the New Hampshire Dental Hygienists’ Association and the N.H. Seacoast component. Susanne has served on ADHA’s Council on Regulation and Practice, and currently serves as chair of Access Magazine’s Industry Advisory Board, which provides input to the ADHA on industry trends and developments.

Kerry Maguire, DDS, MSPH, is a general dentist with advanced training in public health. Her primary professional interests are health promotion, disease prevention, and access to oral health care for all.

Dr. Maguire received both her dental and public health education from the University of Colorado Health Science Center. She directed the University of Colorado School of Dentistry’s service learning program before moving to New England. She has held numerous positions in ADEA and the dental industry. Kerry is active in the American Dental Education Association, American Dental Association, and American Association of Public Health Dentistry. Each year she travels to Zambia to work as a volunteer in an AIDS hospice.

The members of the Professional Advocacy team are excited to offer new information and share lifelong learning with fellow health-care providers. Evidence, experience, wisdom, and professional judgment are important to determine if new information is valid. Adjusting one’s practices and recommendations based on new information requires courage. The Tom’s of Maine Professional Advocacy team is dedicated to providing support to dental professionals courageous in their quest to learn more about natural oral care.

For information about Tom’s of Maine products, go to For information about “Working With Nature To Make a Difference,” go to

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, FAADH, is currently a faculty member at Mt. Ida College’s dental hygiene program after spending more than 25 years in private practice. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and is also pursuing a master’s degree in education in instructional design. A member of several professional dental hygiene associations, Ann-Marie has written numerous articles and provides continuing education programs for dental hygienists and dental team members. She can be reached at [email protected].