By Chantal Rayakovich RDH
The year has come to an end and I have so much to be thankful for. It’s been quite a challenge to start and successfully run a business but with the help of family, friends and most importantly our community, I can finally see the light.
My main focus is to help educate and promote preventative dental care. I do this through trade shows, presentations and donating my time in any way that I can. Currently, I am working on the Gift from the Heart event which is a day that allows people from all walks of life receive dental cleanings, products and education on oral health. This event almost 4 years ago in Southern Ontario and continues to grow every year. Self-initiated dental hygienists donate their services and give back to their communities. I loved the concept of this and wanted to participate. Originally, the event was going to take place in my clinic but I was restricted with the number of clients I could help because I only had one dental chair. Therefore, I approached the professors of the dental hygiene program up at our local college. They have a much bigger clinic with 13 chairs. I sought the interest of other local dental hygienists to take part and received some positive feedback. The project just snowballed from there. I’ve been seeking the help of local businesses by donating their services to make the day a success. These services such as printing, transportation, food and beverage have all been donated generously by our community. The posters should be completed shortly and hopefully seen by those who truly need it.
Another project that I was excited to start was to feature local artists work in the clinic. Our first artist, Leesa Davidson is a graduate from Nipissing University in the arts program and actually sold her first painting in our office…we were ecstatic for her. The clinic will rotate local artists to help give them exposure but at the same time accentuate our walls. We will also support a worthy cause started by one of our local artists “Create to Donate” where the artists donate their art work for a worthy cause. We will have a variety of local work on display and the proceeds will go to the charity of their choice.
Last May, Hilltop Dental Hygiene Clinic donated all earnings of one day towards our local soup kitchen, The Gathering Place. After only being open for 2 months, the clinic raised two days’ worth of food. What great community effort! It is an annual event that will take place at the end of May, 2012. If you’d like participate in this day, be sure to look for future announcements.
These were the highlights of my 2011…what were yours? I look forward to 2012 and hope it will bring me more friendships, opportunity to grow in my business and most importantly as an individualJ.
By Eva Grayzel
Whose responsibility is it to educate people about the early signs of oral cancer, and that it even exists? If I even knew that the sore on my tongue had the potential of being cancer, I would have been more proactive about finding a solution to the constant pain. Instead, I was bounced between dentists and oral surgeons for almost a year while they treated the sore as trauma. I never heard of cancer in the mouth. When they did a biopsy and told me it was negative, I thought to myself, ‘what could they possibly be looking for?’ When the receptionist told me I didn’t have anything to worry about, I didn’t know that I should have worried.
Oral cancer is on the rise due to the association with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Getting oral cancer can’t be preventable, but diagnosing at the late stages can be preventable. How? Educating patients about the early signs of oral cancer, and doing a thorough visual exam with palpation (an intra and extra oral screening).
I started an oral cancer awareness campaign for the general public and dental professionals, SixStepScreening.org. In addition to education about the six steps to a thorough oral cancer screening, the site has an email reminder the day before your next dental appointment, a collection of stories of dental professionals who have saved lives by finding oral cancer early, and resources for dental professionals who want more education.
Right now in the United States, dental professionals are not required to take any continuing education courses in early detection of oral cancer. My dentist 30 years out of dental school did not know what he was staring at right on my lateral tongue. Currently, New York state has required dentists to take one CE course in the next two years for recertification. My hope is that it will be come a regular requirement every couple of years and that all states will join the bandwagon.
Here are some quick guidelines for catching oral cancer early:
SNAP a photo! A picture is worth a thousand words in monitoring changes in your patient's mouth!
S: Say, "I'm performing an oral cancer screening." Educate all patients about dentistry's deadliest disease.
N: Never say, "If it doesn't get better, come back." Schedule an appointment in two weeks to re-evaluate.
A: Always follow up on patients with a negative biopsy. Benign lesions may evolve into malignancies.
P: Pathologist: The histologic interpretation of neoplasia demands the specialty expertise of an oral pathologist.
When I was on the tight rope balancing between life and death, I thought good and hard about how I will be remembered. I knew I wouldn’t be remembered for watching soccer games and taking my children to doctors....I would be remembered for how I made a difference in other people’s lives. You can save a life by maintaining current education in early detection, doing a screening on everyone, and educating patients about the early signs. You are on the front lines of the battle!
by Lori Lawrence R.D.H.
The newscast on Wednesday July 20th announced that within 24 hours, 640 First Nations Evacuees, men women and children, would be descending on my town. They had less than 24 hours to pack up and get ready to vacate their Town of Deer Lake, Ontario, 500 miles north of Thunder Bay because of threats of raging forest fires. I listened intently to the radio the next day and sure enough after a long journey by plane, they were now arriving by the bus loads to stay at an evacuation center set up at the former Rideau Regional institution in Smith Falls Ontario.
On Friday after work, I went to my local Wal-Mart store and as I became more aware of my surroundings, I started seeing people in need. First I saw one family of six in the shoe department, and then in the next isle another young mother with her 2 small children was buying some groceries, over in the analgesic isle there must have been twelve more evacuees looking for some pain medication. As I wandered through the store, it was obvious that these people did not normally have the services of a large department store readily available.
You might think they would be jumping with excitement, but they weren’t. They were tired from a long journey, they were confused, and of course seemed lost in a new environment where nothing was familiar and they knew no one. As I went through the check out, I noticed there sitting in a stack of water softener salt bags was another group just waiting patiently for some complete stranger to come and pick them up and drive them to their temporary home.
As I drove home, my mind went into full gear…what could I do to help?
This is where being a health care professional gives me the most PRIDE. It enables me to be able to react and more importantly as an Independent dental hygienist it enables me to act in an emergency situation like this.
What makes us want to jump in with both feet and help? I believe it is because as dental hygienists, many of us possess similar characteristics, traits, and qualities such as:
- Caring: immediately concerned with the well-being of others.
- Helpful: we want to give assistance to others who are in need
- Devoted: our dedication to a purpose is unwavering
- Fair: we act in a way that we are equitable and impartial
- Tolerant: we recognize and respect how others think and feel
- Persevering: we continue on plan of action in spite of the
- Supportive: we encourage and help anyway we can
- Analytical: we dissect whatever the crisis is in order to assist
My analytical side immediately went to work; I got home, left my groceries on the counter and immediately went online to email the Emergency Management Team to be supportive and offer my services wherever needed. The caring side of me could not wait for an email response, so I went over to the evacuation center to see for myself what I suspected all along. We all know that the aboriginal people that live in the far North have very little access to dental services. I spoke with the Community Health Center coordinator. I explained to him that these people have extremely high needs, and I wanted to help any way I could. I have 2 dental chairs, myself and a DDS, both willing to devote what ever it took to help get some of them out of pain. He was very appreciative and explained that they would start to prioritize the worst cases to be done first.
In the meantime, I spoke with the Red Cross volunteers to ascertain their inventory of dental supplies. The shelves were pretty bare; again the analytical voice in my head said that is easy to fix! I came home and sent out an email to all my suppliers whom I deal with and asked to call in some favors, explaining the situation; I simply asked if they could donate some dental supplies. Within 48 hours, I had over 1000 toothbrushes, 800 tubes of toothpaste, and 400 units of floss arrive at my office! I immediately brought them over and the shelves were stocked!
By this time, we have persevered to get through all the red tape, and by the end of the week the clients started coming to my office to be assessed and treated. Everyone had multiple concerns and we took care as many of their needs as possible. This is where tolerance comes in; the last thing you wanted to do in an emergency situation is give them the big speech on homecare, diet, and prevention. It was very important in this situation to recognize their lifestyle and respect their human needs.
I had big plans for over the weekend; I was working preparing a little dental education seminar for the elders and the children, but before the weekend was over, I got word that the Red Cross was making preparations so they could return safely to their homes and be reunited with their families. By Monday most of them were gone.
How quickly some people come in and out of our lives! It is important to remember that no matter how small of a contribution, we can make a difference.
If there is a silver lining in this story (in the business side of this case study), the Ontario and Federal Ministries of Health were following this story closely. Partly because I was calling them relentlessly to see if the Minister of Health would temporarily approve the dental hygiene services of an Independent practitioner in order to cover the costs of the periodontal treatment they received. I wasn’t surprised that the answer was an unequivocal “no”. At least I am certain of one thing….the next time they have their round table discussions, I am hopeful that the plight of the independent dental hygienist not being able to provide dental hygiene service to one of the highest needs groups in this country, will be discussed.
In this regard, thank you to the Deer Lake community for bringing attention to an inequality that should not exist in this country, hopefully some day you will all be able to access paid services from a self-initiated dental hygienist.
Lori Lawrence R.D.H.
By Joanne Peazel McCavery, RDH, BSc
With summer and all of its distractions in full swing, it may be difficult for us to think several months ahead, to what we will be doing for Valentine’s Day. However, February 14 is only six months away, and with that red, romantic, rose-filled day comes a very special event, Gift from the Heart.
Gift from the Heart is a community care initiative that was developed by our colleague, Ms. Bev Woods R.R.D.H. The first event was held on February 14, 2009, where 75 dental hygienists provided complementary (free!) dental hygiene services to under- and underserved people in 24 communities across Ontario. The second year, there were over 50 dental hygiene clinics participating with over 150 volunteers. As well, dental hygiene schools came on board and offered the use of their clinic chairs and students to enable more spaces for people to access the free service. This year, the event broke through the borders of Ontario and our colleagues in Alberta and British Columbia became involved. In total over 1500 smiles were brightened on February 12, 2011.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to experience volunteer work, or more specifically, dental hygiene related-volunteer work, then Gift from the Heart is an excellent opportunity to gain some insight and valuable experience into what it means to give back to the people that share your little corner of the world.
Some may shy away from events like Gift from the Heart for the reason that they may not be self-initiated. If you are not able to self-initiate or practice independently, you can still participate many ways in this program other than chair side.
For those Ontario, dental hygienists who are not authorized to self-initiate, this blog may serve as a timely reminder or motivator. Why not utilize an event such as this to be the motivation you need to obtain your authorized to self-initiate status? Self-initiation is your gateway to participation in this great event. Just as important, it also strengthens the collective voice of dental hygiene. (There are six months to obtain this authorization. Dental hygienists in general practice dental offices and dental hygienists who have no current intention of opening an independent dental hygiene clinic still benefit from becoming self-initiated. In Ontario, the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario offers three options (streams) so even new registrants can work towards this goal shortly after entering into practice.
A large support network exists to help organise and/or participate in the event. Visit the Gift from the Heart website at http://giftfromtheheart.ca/event/ ; this website has all the information you will need to run the event at your office. There are media releases prepared for you to use, marketing tips and posters to print, and a place to register for the event so that the coordinator will be able to make sure you have the donated products delivered to your office or to a central depot. You can also view pictures of offices that have participated in the past to get ideas on what you might like to do with your office when you participate in this valuable community care initiative.
Supplies and equipment for community health programs can be challenging to accrue, but the Gift from the Heart event already has several large companies sponsoring by providing free supplies. Donations are readily accepted, and of course, try brainstorming some FUNdraising ideas yourself.
Locations to host the initiative are abundant. Consider how many independent dental hygiene clinics, dental hygiene schools, and community centres are found within thirty to sixty minutes of your home. Or perhaps you will join a dental hygiene colleague/friend in another location.
When it comes to advertising, posters and word-of-mouth are a few suitable examples, but having the national and provincial dental hygiene associations support the program is ideal. (Let us hope they are reading this!)
Imagine the oral health impact that the dental hygiene community could have if even half of the dental hygienists in Canada participated in this program! How many smiles would be bigger, brighter, and healthier if 10 000 dental hygienists provided complimentary services for 6 hours on Feb 11, 2012?
We all know that dental hygiene is a specialized body of knowledge. We are a profession, based on our education, our certification exam, our registration and compliance with our unique regulatory bodies. Can it follow then that dental hygienists play a vital role in greater society to provide some relief from oral disease to individuals close to home that could otherwise not afford it?
The Gift from the Heart initiative allows the profession of dental hygiene to give back to the community, all the while bringing special attention to the role of dental hygienists as business owners and primary oral health care providers. Give it a try next year; make a difference, expand your professional network, and help spread the healthy smiles that began as a gift from your heart.
By Lori Lawrence R.D.H.
Ever had a day where everything is going along just great and then Wham…you get hit with a curve ball? My curve ball last week was an incident that really troubled me. I have a client who has a condition called Crohn’s Disease; top that off with a history of multiple root canals and periodontal abscesses. Over the years she has discovered that her stomach and intestines just cannot tolerate the systemic antibiotics the dentist prescribes for her each time she has a flare up. She came to see me in my clinic a year ago and after a thorough assessment and lengthy discussion we decided to use Arestin, it is a low dose (1mg) capsule that will target the infection site and not have to be absorbed systemically through her stomach. The client returned 10 days later, the infection site had cleared up and the client reported no stomach or intestinal upset and more importantly NO lovely yeast infection she would always get when taking oral antibiotics. Needless to say, she thought I was a miracle worker when in reality I was just doing what I was trained to do, assess, plan, implement and evaluate.
Now fast forward to a year later. The same client calls me last week to say she “feels another infection coming on, and could we use the same stuff we used the last time?” I advised her that I had just used up my last capsule of the product but I would put an order in right away and we would be able to see her in a day or two.
Here is where the curve ball comes in…I get a call back from the dental supply company saying that “we cannot sell Arestin directly to a dental hygienist”. Of course I was appalled and quickly called my sales rep to remind him that dental hygienists are a self-regulating profession.
The Ontario Drug Act, Section 118 (3) reads:
(3) Nothing in this Act prevents any person from selling, to a member of the College of Chiropodists of Ontario, the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, the College of Midwives of Ontario or the College of Optometrists of Ontario, a drug that the member may use in the course of engaging in the practice of his or her profession. 2009, c. 26, s. 8 (3).
I then called the CDHO to advise them of this unjust ruling by the dental supply company. I was told that organized dentistry had approached the manufacturer of Arestin and told them that they cannot sell the drug to an independent RDH. Based on that biased information, the manufacturer immediately informed all of its suppliers that they cannot to sell Arestin to independent registered dental hygienists, even though there is no legal reason stating that we can’t use the product. We all know too well that organized dentistry has probably threatened the dental supply companies to abide by their wishes for fear of losing the “BIG” dental accounts!
So where do we go from here? It has taken me a week to sort through my thoughts and after speaking with my confidants, my perspective has become clearer. We recognize what organized dentistry is doing is just “WRONG”, but because they have power and money they absolutely control key sectors like the politicians, the dental supply companies, and more importantly the “media”. They get away with it. Ever wonder why you never hear a negative story in the newspaper about at dentist? It is not by accident! Even the Competition Bureau of Canada had acquired a huge file of complaints of dentists breaking the competition laws of Canada, they wrote the report a year ago, has anyone ever seen it? When asked why the document has not been publicized, we were told it has been shelved. However, we hear that it may be released this summer.
That is why I am blogging today, because as Canadians we need to stand up for what is right and in my heart I believe this is one of those times. All I know is, as a health care professional, my top priority is to help my client who has had to endure the pain for absolutely NO reason at all. I entered the health care profession because I want to help people, not to play these silly political power struggle games. In order to acquire the product I needed, I had to resort to Plan B; my business placed the order for Arestin under the dentist’s name that works with me in my clinic.
One thing I know for sure is I am proud to be among a group of professionals that are strong and innovative. We will always find another way to remove the roadblocks they put in front of us.
There are many solutions and we will find them. The members of organized dentistry are powerful but they may have underestimated the resilience, intelligence, and perseverance of dental hygienists. I encourage anyone who reads this to be the media that we need to help spread the word to the public by posting this blog link on your face book page or twitter. We may not be able to compete with them on the corporate, political, or traditional media level but the old boy’s club can’t stop us yet with social media.
Optimistically, one day we will get the respect we deserve in our rightful place as Oral Health Professionals!
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
Professionally yours, Lori Lawrence R.D.H.
Here is the link to the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act: http://www.search.e-laws.gov.on.ca/en/isysquery/1ff45aaa-5aa1-49d0-a029-1036a4c2e56b/1/doc/?search=browseStatutes&context=#hit1
Lori Lawrence and JoAnn Keays from Smile Sensations Dental Hygiene Clinic in Smith Falls Ontario Canada join with Gift From The Heart founder Bev Woods to tell of their experiences of Gift From The Heart 2011 with Dr. Susan Ziebarth.