Tips and tricks from a hygienist with 30+ years of experience

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October was National Dental Hygiene Month, and while the month is over, it's never too late to share some tricks and tips of the trade. But before I dive into the details, I want to use this moment to applaud and appreciate all those in the hygienist community. This elite group of dental care professionals builds bridges each and every day for patients to access quality treatment through communication, education, and care.

To continue to drive and deliver the highest caliber of dental care for our patients, we must first steep all decisions in education and research. Knowledge of new treatment protocols and processes should serve as a springboard for all action taken to move forward.

Below are some educational resources through two different learning models.

Peer-to-peer education

Lynn Atkinson, RDH.Lynn Atkinson, RDH.

Today, we have a world of information at our fingertips, which makes the opportunity to learn virtually endless -- but this can also be overwhelming.

Instead of boiling the ocean, I recommend signing up for a handful of credible and easy-to-digest industry newsletters that will hit your box first thing in the morning and set you up for success ahead of your day. Another great resource is to tune into industry podcasts that you can stream on the way to work, so before you hit the door you're already armed with ideas and questions to kick off the day.

My recommendations include the following:

  •'s Hygiene Community and daily newsletters -- a resource to receive exclusive email updates on your favorite new technologies and techniques to stay current in today's competitive market
  • The ADA's Tooth Talk -- a series designed to keep dentists and dental professionals informed on all the latest news in Washington, DC
  • Today's RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast -- perfect for curious and passionate dental hygienists who know that learning never stops

However, innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum. So while consuming content like the above can empower you as a professional, it is critical to infuse yourself into a community. This is where ideas, questions, success stories, and challenges are shared.

You can find communities online via Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or through selected partners. I believe it is critical to be part of the education process, finding your footing on how you can help provide information to your peers. In addition, some companies offer learning resources and continuing education courses.

My hunger for continued education and knowledge is one of the many reasons I am an active member of the Academy of Laser Dentistry, the American Dental Hygienists' Association, and the Biolase Advisory Board.

Education beyond peer to peer

A pillar that runs parallel to peer-led education is patient feedback. Listening to patients' questions and concerns and seeing recurring themes allow for a deeper understanding of the challenges and solutions present in the industry.

Once you've identified patient needs and researched and validated the solutions that select devices can bring, it's time to take action.

Below are three technologies I use in my own practice:

  1. Biolase Epic Hygiene laser -- a laser designed by dental hygienists for dental hygienists
  2. VoiceWorks by Florida Probe -- a computerized periodontal charting system that creates a codiagnosis experience for the patient and assists in improving patient acceptance of needed periodontal therapies
  3. Innovative Optics eyewear -- customized eye protection for patients, clinicians, and their teams to remain protected against any laser wavelength combination

Lynn Atkinson has been a registered dental hygienist for more than 30 years. She graduated from Cypress College with a degree in dental hygiene in 1989 and is proud to have been part of several dental teams that have incorporated state-of-the-art technology. Since her initial training and certification through the World Clinical Laser Institute (WCLI) in dental lasers in 1996, Lynn has been actively applying the use of dental lasers in hygiene daily in her practice in Mission Viejo, CA.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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