MTI Dental Van Volunteer

Images are from Medical Teams International, please visit their website at http://www.medicalteams.org/

April and June 2013

MTI_Dental_Van

I enjoy volunteering with Medical Teams International a few times a year, which is about as often as I can. I think I “get” as much as I “give”. So many of the patients are in so much chronic pain!

During a normal volunteer stint I will review the medical history with the patient, find out “where it hurts”,  take the radiographs (x-rays), start cleaning the teeth like mad, and sometime prep the patient for the doctor by giving the patient their local anesthesia injections.

Most of the time we treat adults who don’t have the money or the dental insurance for dental treatment in a dental office.  Our priority is to get the adults “out of pain” and treat any infection. Generally, children are taken care of through Oregon Health Plan, but some kids do fall through the cracks given their specific circumstances.

I had the pleasure of taking care of one 14 year old. When I placed the lead apron on him prior to the radiographs he asked “why are you putting this on me?” I answered, “to protect you”, he freaked out and asked “to protect me from WHAT?!?”  It then dawned on me that he had never been in a dental office EVER. He had no idea what we do, how we do it and what it entailed. I stopped what I was doing to explain EVERYTHING that was around him – from the air/water syringe, the suction, the chair positioning, the light, the x-rays, the mirror, etc… and I saw that he started to calm down. The X-rays were easy now. Then the doctor asked me to anesthetize him for an extraction.  While I’m confident in my ability to provide a comfortable injection to my patients, in the back of my mind I thought “great! I get to be the bad guy!” and I was a little nervous that I would be this patient’s first experience. So many patients are traumatized by dental experiences and we work so hard for them to be as comfortable as possible!  I explained to my patient exactly what I was going to do, what he would feel and how it would happen.  I could tell he was nervous, and I explained that while he would feel a slight pinch, to trust me, he would much rather have a local anesthetic injection than NOT, for his extraction.  I followed all the protocol that had been drilled into us in hygiene school, to go SLOWLY, take our time and give an “atraumatic injection”. I told my patient to close his eyes, he followed all my instructions and after it was all over he was “wow, that wasn’t bad at all!”, then he was amazed at how fat his lip started to feel! I had to give him a mirror to convince him that his lip wasn’t changing shape.

After the doctor performed the extraction, I asked him how his total experience was. He shrugged his shoulders and said “not too bad” through the gauze packed between his teeth! That made my day! While I would always want patients to have a GREAT experience, if a 14 year old kid’s very first dental experience is an extraction and if it “wasn’t too bad”, then I guess we have to celebrate that as a success!

One day we won’t need Dental Vans to help get people out of pain, because in my ever optimistic view, we will find a way to avoid all oral diseases and find a way to keep people healthy- mouth included!

MTI

Ann Ossinger is a Registered Dental Hygienist who owns DoorStep DentalHygiene, LLC, a mobile dental hygiene service that provides dental hygiene services to people who would otherwise be unable to go to a regular dental clinic in the Linn-Benton Counties of Oregon. 541-990-0814. Please contact Ann if you have any questions!

 

EPDH Conference

EPDH conference (Expanded Practice Dental Hygiene)

Every year ODHA (Oregon Dental Hygiene Association) sponsors a conference tailored to the EPDH hygienists (Expanded Practice Dental Hygiene). This year, just like last year, I had a hard time deciding which classes to take –they all sounded great and it was a hard choice! It was held in Springfield, Oregon May 3 & 4, 2013.

The first class I took was “Management of Early Childhood Caries” taught by Karen Hall, RDH, BSDH.  She has spearheaded the “First Tooth” project here in Oregon.  Children need to be seen by a dental professional when they start to get their primary (baby) teeth.  Primary teeth are important! They help guide the permanent teeth -so you want to keep the primary teeth until they naturally wiggle and fall out. Children will have difficult time learning in school if they are in dental pain. If they become decayed years earlier the permanent teeth are more likely to come in crooked and needing orthodontia work to maintain dental health as an adult.  The ADA recommends children have their first visit by 12 months old. It is all about prevention! How to halt the disease process we call caries (and you probably know of as “Cavities”).   Contact me if you have any questions about how to prevent your children from developing decay.

The second class I took was “Use of Silver Nitrate for Non-Surgical Management of Dental Caries” taught by Dr. Gary Allen, DMD, MS. This is an exciting time to be in the dental field! We can now start to treat Caries as a disease, much like we treat any disease in the medical model. Caries is an INFECTION that is TRANSMISSIBLE. Silver nitrate is a promising new treatment protocol that can halt the disease. Drilling and filling only treat the symptoms of dental caries and they do NOT treat the underlying infection.

The third class was “Farming or Hunting? Marketing in a Social Media Age” by Rosalea Peters, BS Ed. Even though I didn’t learn a lot of new information in this class, I did learn that I am doing everything right! About the only thing I’m not using to reach my audience is Twitter.  This is all an evolution of tools we have to help teach people about what we do and how we can help our patients.

The last class was invaluable! “Managing Medical Emergencies for Dental Patients in Alternative Practice Settings” by Gail Aamodt, RDH, MS and Bill Laird, EMT-P. What a great team!  Although I’ve taken several classes on medical emergencies, they have all assumed to be taken place in a regular dental clinic. In this class we assumed we were “out in the field”, away from a dentist and our traditional medical emergency kit. Lots of great ideas and creative solutions were discussed.  My patients are safer!

Thank you ODHA for sponsoring this great opportunity to network, trade ideas, and get valuable information on being better providers!

Ann Ossinger is a Registered Dental Hygienist who owns DoorStep DentalHygiene, LLC, a mobile dental hygiene service that provides dental hygiene services to people who would otherwise be unable to go to a regular dental clinic in the Linn-Benton Counties of Oregon. 541-990-0814. Please contact Ann if you have any questions!