Carol Jent, Ultradent's Clinical RDH
We here at Ultradent are fortunate enough to have not only Carol Jent, our Clinical Dental Hygienist onboard, but to have several Registered Dental Hygienists now working out in the field as Ultradent sales reps. These include Kimberly Ferruggia, Barbara Ingram, Jennifer Strickler, Amy Gray, Laura Ambrose (who is also Ultradent’s Endo sales manager), Rita Gooley, and Carol Cormier. With such a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field right at our fingertips, we thought we’d have a dental hygiene “roundtable” in celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month to discuss some of the hottest and most pressing topics surrounding dental hygiene today.
We were able to spend some time with each of these fantastically brilliant women and pick their brains for a few minutes. Please enjoy the resulting discussion:
What is your favorite hygiene tip or piece of advice for patients or other hygienists?
Laurie Ambrose: It always goes back to me saying, “Only floss and take care of the teeth that you care to have for the rest of your life!”
Laurie Ambrose, RDH
Carol Jent: Something I always told my patients to do was something I call “dry brushing.” So many people don’t really love to brush, but the whole idea behind brushing is to dislodge and disorganize the plaque around the teeth and gums. So, one of my favorite things to tell people is to have multiple toothbrushes around where they live and work. For example, I have one at my desk, one in my car, one down in this little drawer next to where we watch TV, and I have one in each of my bathrooms. If I’m sitting watching TV or if I’m driving, I’ll grab my toothbrush and I’ll “dry brush” and it’s amazing how clean your teeth feel afterwards. With my patients who would do it, their oral health would totally improve. If you want the toothpaste, give yourself that refreshing fluoride treatment at the end, and the results are absolutely amazing.
Carol Cormier: My best tip to patients would be to do everything you can to keep your natural teeth, as there is no replacement that can compare. A few minutes a day taking care of your oral health can prevent a host of problems. There is nothing like your natural teeth and you are sure to miss them when they are gone.
Carol Cormier, RDH
Jennifer Strickler: One thing that I learned as a dental hygienist was never to judge a book by its cover. Never judge a patient by their appearance. Always treat each and every patient the same, and give them the very best treatment that is best for the health of their mouth, despite economic status or personal appearance.
Jennifer Strickler, RDH
What is the biggest misconception about hygienists?
Rita Gooley: That we’re mean and that we somehow want to hurt you. We’re not mean people! The better care you take of your own teeth, the less likely it is for your teeth cleaning appointment to hurt!
Rita Gooley, RDH
Amy Gray: I think the biggest misconception, probably, is that hygienists only clean teeth. I believe more importantly, it’s key to be an educator. Cleaning someone’s teeth isn’t going to do a single thing if they don’t know how to take care of them in between appointments. Education is paramount. It’s just as important as cleaning the patient’s teeth.
Amy Gray, RDH
Kimberly Ferruggia: In my eyes, the biggest misconception I see in my patients is that it’s going to hurt or that it’s scary, so patients end up avoiding it and creating more problems for themselves down the road. A cleaning isn’t supposed to hurt. It’s all about basic maintenance. The more you go, the easier it is and the healthier your mouth is going to be.
Kimberly Kerruggia, RDH
How has hygiene changed over the last ten years?
Barbara Ingram: I think a lot of the treatment modalities, especially when it comes to periodontal disease, have changed. We irrigate more with chlorhexidine, the antibiotics that you can place subgingivally—those are all so much more prevalent than they used to be when I was just out of school. There’s also a higher focus on treating gum disease. Fortunately, that’s really improved over the last few years. Hygienists are really upping their scaling and root planing game.
Barbara Ingram, RDH
Amy Gray: Back when I was a hygienist, we didn’t have teeth whitening, so that is a great change we’ve seen in the industry. I also can’t believe how much better the products are now and how much easier they are to use, especially with sealants and the dispensers they come in. There’s also more opportunity to talk about more procedures because there are more cosmetic options than there were 20 years ago. For example, if I were a hygienist now, I would be talking about whitening all day long.
Jennifer Strickler: It has definitely advanced a lot with hygienists now using soft tissue lasers and fluoride varnish and scalers and ultrasonics. They’re taking things that used to be basic and turning them into really cool little gadgets to help the patients get better care. I initially left hygiene because I was having issues with carpal tunnel, but now, a lot of the tools they’re coming out with for hygienists are more ergonomically friendly. I think the industry has just gotten better and better over time.
Carol Jent: Back in the day, dentists were seen as “drill, fill, bill,” and hygienists were seen as “gum gardeners.” There were all these funny names like that for us…but now I think it’s becoming more of a respected profession, especially since they’ve been making the connection between the oral cavity and the rest of the body’s health. For example, if someone is immunocompromised due to diabetes, they’re going to really need to get their teeth cleaned on a regular basis because of the way that that inflammation affects the entire body. Even gingivitis is a low-grade inflammation that spills all of these cytokines into the bloodstream that affect all of these other parts of the body. Good dental hygiene isn’t just to make your teeth look pretty or to get the coffee stains off—it’s a real, important health issue.
What is your favorite hygiene product?
Rita Gooley: Enamelast™! It goes on so very smooth, it’s an easy application, and it tastes great. My offices really love it.
Barbara Ingram: I love UltraSeal. I’ve placed a lot of varnish over the years, and I’ve seen some huge advantages with UltraSeal XT® plus™ and UltraSeal XT® hydro™ as well. In my opinion, there just aren’t any other sealants on the market that even come close to what Ultradent offers. I’ve been using UltraSeal for years! I’m so passionate about that product.
UltraSeal XT hydro
Laurie Ambrose: My favorite hygiene product that I use now, (and I get everyone hooked on them), is Opalpix. If someone knows they’re in my purse, by the end of the day they’ll be gone or they’ll have stolen the entire packet of Opalpix from my purse.
Carol Cormier: I love our sealants. If all offices realized the benefits of UltraSeal XT hydro, we would not have failed sealants. Ultraseal XT hydro has high fill, high flow, adhesive properties in the chemistry, hydrophilic capabilities, as well as an awesome delivery system make it such an easy material to achieve a successful sealant placement. Not to mention a three-second cure with VALO®!
VALO and VALO Cordless
Carol Jent: My favorite product is probably UltraSeal XT plus because it just never lets me down—not that the other ones would. But when I was working regularly as a dental hygienist, when a kid would show up six months after I had placed a sealant on them, I would be sweating bullets and my blood pressure would almost go up, thinking… “Oh, I hope that sealant is still in there.” Even before I was with Ultradent, every time I used the UltraSeal XT plus, when that six months would go by, the sealant never let me down. It was always still there. It made me a healthier, happier hygienist!
UltraSeal XT plus
With that, we conclude our roundtable discussion in celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month. Thank you, Carol J., Amy, Jennifer, Barbara, Kimberly, Rita, and Carol C. for your expertise and contribution to this year’s article. Until next year, take care of those pearly whites, and thank goodness for fabulous dental hygienists!