Happy Dental Hygiene Month!

Posted on October 07, 2015

Dental Hygiene Month is a great time to draw attention to the importance of good oral health. It is common to find activities based on educating the public on a variety of dental health topics. You will find free oral cancer screenings and fluoride varnish clinics in many locations during this important month. This is also a month to show appreciation to the RDH – those essential healthcare providers who fight oral disease without a lot of recognition.

Thanks to social media, it is easier for individuals, employers and companies to show appreciation to dental hygienists during the month of October. Personal notes on Facebook walls, tweets of recognition and Instagram pictures of a favorite RDH are common and wonderful to see. Advertised specials and accolades from companies who value the role of the RDH have also appeared in the social media realm. American Eagle Instruments even changed their logo to purple during October in a show of respect. RDHs and oral health benefit from these displays of acknowledgment.

American Eagle Instruments has the health and happiness of RDHs in mind every month of the year. It is evident in the ergonomic value of their instrument designs and a willingness to hear the requests of the dental hygienist in creating products specific to our needs. Perhaps the biggest benefit to the RDH with regard to hand instrumentation since the development of the Gracey curette is the creation of XP Technology sharpen-free instruments. Just one more example of having the best interest of the RDH in mind.

Three Important ways XP Technology benefits the RDH:

  • Lighter grasp. Whether you use a modified pen grasp or a C- grasp, a lighter hold on the instrument is implemented when using XP Technology. Pinch force, how tightly our fingers hold the instrument handle, is a contributing factor in carpal tunnel syndrome.1 Decreasing the amount of force needed to hold the instrument will benefit the musculoskeletal health of the RDH.
  • Less lateral pressure. It is possible to use significantly less lateral pressure on the tooth surface when employing XP Technology. Heavy lateral pressure not only plays a role in hand fatigue, it can create discomfort for the patient. A consistently sharp blade allows the clinician to use a stroke similar to shaving to remove deposits and does not require heavy pressure and finger strain to accomplish the task.
  • No need to sharpen – EVER! Sharpening is an often time consuming, difficult and auditory annoying task. There is rarely time to do it correctly, and even when that precious time is found, one study shows RDHs are not effective at re-creating an appropriate cutting edge. 2 Time spent sharpening by the RDH could be better used – calling an overdue patient, assisting a co-worker or even taking that elusive bathroom break.

During this important month take some time to bring attention to oral health. Become involved in those free oral cancer screenings and health fair opportunities. Most importantly, take a few moments to focus on the essential role of the Dental Hygienist in health promotion and disease prevention. Make a commitment to the health and safety of the RDH, whether that person is your employee, your oral healthcare provider or even yourself.

1 Villanueva A1, Dong H, Rempel D.A biomechanical analysis of applied pinch force during periodontal scaling. J Biomech. 2007;40(9):1910-5. Epub 2006 Oct 18.

2 Laughter, L. Your best efforts! Author's informal survey indicates that dental hygienists do not retain sharpening skills, RDH Magazine 2015:35(4) pub April 2015