“Partnering to End Violence Against Women”

BCDHA_sign_for_EVABC_xsmall_dp“In BC, there are over 1000 physical or sexual assaults against women every week.”(from EVA BC- http://endingviolence.org/prevention-programs/be-more-than-a-bystander/be-more-than-a-bystander-statistics/ )

A recent partnership between the BCDHA and the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) places dental hygienists in a key role in helping to intervene in individual situations and bring more general awareness to violence against women. Nearly 75% of physical injuries received during episodes of violence against women by an intimate partner are inflicted to the head, face, mouth and neck.  Dental hygienists are in a unique position to be among the first health care professionals to recognize signs of abuse and help survivors.  They may also witness behavioural indicators of abuse in their practice setting, such as interactions between partners.

A further dialogue with Tracy Porteous, Executive Director of EVA BC, about violence against women helped to further strengthen the connection between BCDHA and EVA BC and how each of us has an opportunity and responsibility to recognize the signs of violence and break the historical silence surrounding these issues.

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Thank you are the only words- By Alison Sawyer


Good oral care has always been part of my life. My Mom and Dad ensured we went to the dental office twice a year and, for the most part, nothing was really scary or bad about it.  As an adult, paying for my own care, I’ve done pretty well.  Fairly regular and no problems.  Generally my teeth have been pretty good. One cavity in my whole life and only one weirdness in that I don’t have adult teeth under two of my molars (41 and I still have two baby teeth!).   When I became a Mom for the first time 12 years ago, the kids took priority.  Hubby and I have always worked on our own so dental plans have come and gone depending on how the money was coming in.  And, the kids are the priority. Period.

A few months ago I started to have some pain in my upper jaw.  I had a bad cold and attributed it to a sinus infection. I also have a wisdom tooth that while mostly in, sometimes flares up.  When the sinus infection went away and the pain lingered I figured it was this annoying wisdom tooth that I was going to have to get rid of.

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Dental Hygienists Make a Difference

autismIn the spring of 2015, BCDHA ran a contest called “Dental Hygienists Make a Difference”. Members of the public were invited to submit stories of the excellent work done by dental hygienists every day, all over B.C.  Louise Witt submitted the winning nomination based on the excellent work done by Kayla Ragosin-Miller, RDH.

Congratulations to both of you on your prize winning entry!

“Advocating for positive change for children with autism”

Louise Witt knows what it means to advocate.  As a social worker she has spent much of her career advocating for her clients and when she became a Mom to son Jack who has autism, she learned that he too would need an advocate. As Louise describes it, interactions with people can be difficult for Jack and unfortunately often negative. In terms of Jack’s dental care in particular, it was always a struggle to treat him. “Our experiences with dental care have been horrible.  Restraints have been used and he has had to undergo general anesthetic. It was awful and I have spent years trying to figure out how to make this change.”

Through friends and other parents of children with autism, Louise learned about the “Desensitization Program” at BC Children’s Hospital started and run by Registered Dental Hygienist Kayla Ragosin-Miller.  The need for this type of program is high and, as a result, Jack spent quite a bit of time on the waiting list.  A few months ago, Jack finally got his appointment with Kayla.

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Learning: a lifelong love affair!

Sherry Saunderson is a woman of varied interests. She is an adventurer, traveler, dental hygienist and oral health advocate.  Her work and passions have taken her far and wide.  BCDHA is pleased to feature Sherry’s story, in two parts.  Thank you Sherry for your wisdom, insight and for sharing your experiences with our readers.

Part 1:

The profession of dental hygiene covers a wide field of options today. For some hygienists, their profession offers a secure job, a self supporting salary and an educational investment that allows them to pay the rent and raise a family. They may not be offered an opportunity to determine how the ideal work environment could look for them.  Other hygienist’s experiences extend into a long career, working in various private practices until discovering the office that is a comfortable fit: great patients and a team centered staff that appreciate their clinical skills. Hygienists can also choose to work as educators, researchers, or in community health working with population health strategies, advocacy, government policies and upstream intervention programs within communities. The most fortunate hygienists are those who feel their work is a “calling”, something that brings deep inner satisfaction and joy, stimulation and the opportunity to experience, express, create and contribute to the greater whole, year after year.

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“The privilege of self-regulation” By Jennifer Lawrence, Registrar College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia

Jen Head Shot

For seven years, I’ve had the honour of being the Registrar of the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia (CDHBC).  I’m pleased and proud to speak to readers of the BCDHA blog about the work we do at the CDHBC in order to foster a greater understanding of the role of the regulator, and what it means in terms of self-regulation of the profession.

Regulators take their roles seriously, and we all feel the responsibility of our chief mandate:  public protection. The health regulators of B.C., all 22 Colleges that oversee the 24 professions regulated under the Health Professions Act (HPA), have pooled our resources to develop a website that helps to inform the public and members of our respective professions about what we do.  Most of us are acutely aware that the general public doesn’t really understand our role so about a year ago we made the choice to formalize the regulatory group and embark on an outreach campaign to educate the public about what the regulatory bodies do, and which health professionals are regulated by Colleges.

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A Family Affair

In honour of BCDHA’s 50th Anniversary, this blog will be featuring stories that showcase the long history of dental hygiene advocacy in B.C.

Jo Gardner was a remarkable woman.  Not only was she B.C.’s third registrant in dental hygiene, she had a long and varied career in practice, education and advocacy that spanned nearly five decades.  While you can read more about Jo as written by her daughter Janice Cox here , BCDHA was pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Jo’s daughter Janice and granddaughter Katie Russell. Janice is a former dental hygienist having retired from the profession just a few years ago, and in May 2013 Katie earned her Bachelor of Dental Science degree from UBC.

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The Connection Between Nursing and Dental Hygiene


Last June, we had the pleasure of hearing from Mara Sand, a dental hygienist with an independent, mobile practice that caters specifically to people with dental phobias and those with mental and/or physical handicaps. A few weeks ago, BCDHA had the opportunity to interview Angelina Eisele, a Public Health Nurse, who has spent the last 20 years of her career working with Mara.  Angelina brings another perspective about the work that dental hygienists like Mara do each and every day.

Thank you Angelina for sharing your wisdom!

1. Can you explain to our readers how a Public Health Nurse might work with a dental hygienist?

The ways in which a Public Health Nurse might engage with dental hygienists is quite varied and will change depending on the circumstances and the communities being served. The best way to explain this is to give a few examples of how I have had a chance to work with Mara so that readers can get a sense of the ways in which patients and clients have benefitted from the connections we have had the opportunity to make.

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The role of dental hygiene in liver transplant

BCDHA has increasingly started to expand the focus of this blog to showcase interprofessional collaboration among dental hygienists and other health professionals. In our mutual role as primary healthcare professionals, we feel it is critically important to recognize and showcase each other’s professional’s contributions related to those within our circle of care. We feel our members would be very interested in learning more about other health care practices, and how collaborative efforts with dental hygienists have enhanced the quality of life and overall health of the patients we all serve.

BCDHA thanks Jo-Ann Harrigan, Clinical Resource Nurse, Post-Liver Transplant Program for taking the time to share her story.

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Small steps can have a big impact


In September 2013, we featured a story about the innovative educational opportunities found at the Vancouver Community College (VCC) Dental Hygiene Program. This program features an integrated, guided, independent study of self-directed projects that focus on ensuring that dental hygiene students develop their skills in the following areas: political action, oral health policy development, grant writing, professional advocacy and entrepreneurship.  We are delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with three students involved in an advocacy and research project as part of this program on the health promotion and oral health needs of women on the Downtown Eastside.

Bhumika Panchawala, Katerina Dombrovska, and Jennifer Conolly all studied at the VCC Dental Hygiene Program and recently graduated in June of 2013. Starting in September 2012, they embarked on a class project that opened their eyes to the ways in which dental hygienists can advocate for the profession while making a real difference in their community.

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Looking to the Future, by Nora Tong

NoraTongNora Tong is a 4th year student in the University of British Columbia’s dental hygiene degree program, and is also the president of the graduating class of 2014. As part of a speech she gave at the BCDHA 50th Anniversary celebration, she shares below her class’ perspective on what they envision for the future as they enter the professional aspect of their lives.  Thank you Nora for sharing your insights and perspectives!

Our class is comprised of 17 female students. While the majority of our class is from the Lower Mainland, we also have students in our class from Kamloops, Abbotsford, 100-mile house, Alberta and Ontario.

Unanimously, our class agreed that we chose to study dental hygiene because of our passion to be involved in health care and make a difference in people’s lives. Many of us were influenced by positive experiences when visiting our dental hygienist. These role models answered our many questions, shared their experiences with us, and encouraged us to consider becoming oral health professionals.

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