Dental Health From A Holistic Standpoint
With the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, freelance dental hygienists will see a greatly increased workload due to the gap in treatment during the lockdown that occurred in many places. This prevented people from obtaining their normal checkups and exams, reserving dental treatment for strictly emergency treatments to reduce exposure.
With this in mind, this presents a great opportunity to change the way we provide dental care. If we move from a reactive treatment model to a more holistic proactive and preventative approach, could we improve overall oral health by promoting a more systemic approach to wellness?
The Holistic Approach
Dental health is extremely important to overall health. There have been possible links demonstrated between poor oral health, a bacterial infection in particular, and dementia, irritable bowel syndrome, and even diabetes and sleep apnea.
The oral cavity can often be considered a mirror of a patient’s overall systemic health, and this information can be used to help guide our patients toward more effective resources for managing their health. If we as dental hygienists can overcome the perceived routine of day in day out scaling teeth and preparing trays, and become closer and more connected to our patients, we could begin to fill the role of educators.
By helping them to understand how to become healthier, and the role of their dental health in the big picture, we help them take a more active and effective role in their health management.
The First Step Is To Begin
Many people see dental hygienists as a dentist’s assistant. In truth, there is a wealth of information that we have concerning oral health and can provide crucial treatment of early periodontal disease. While we want the best for our patients, we often neglect to start the conversation and provide them the information they need to become truly healthy.
Sometimes we can be jaded and assume they are only there for their free cleaning, and forget that they may have health concerns they are hesitant to bring up that we can perhaps help with.
Take the first step in the current gig economy, and start the conversation with them and offer the chance for them to expand their understanding of oral and systemic health. They as patients have a right to complete and accurate information about their diagnosis and treatment, and that includes both aftercare and prevention.
By taking this chance to broaden your role in their health management, you increase the level of care they receive, and by proxy, how effective that care is.
No Better Time
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association Standards for Clinical Dental Hygiene Practice clearly outlines the central importance of objective evaluation of all aspects of a patient’s health. This means not only is this the perfect time in history to expand our importance as practitioners of oral health but that it is also our occupational duty to do so.
This holistic approach can only improve the quality of life of the patients that your practice treats.
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