Every Voice Counts!

suessOn March 29th, 2018 UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year student teams presented their advocacy proposals to each other and guests who represented academia, regulation and professional associations. Led by Diana Lin, a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and class Instructor, the students were asked to research and present a cause advocacy issue with a clear focus on how dental hygienists can affect real system change through advocacy and action.

This year’s class featured seven presentation proposal topics:

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World No Tobacco Day and the role of Dental Hygienists in Tobacco Cessation


Every May 31st is “World No Tobacco Day” (WNTD). The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaims this day each year to highlight the health and other risks associated with tobacco use. As primary health care providers, dental hygienists are well aware of the broad health implications associated with tobacco use.  Each year more than 7 million deaths are as a direct result of tobacco use. According to WHO, this number will grow in excess of 8 million by 2030 without concerted action and effort (source: WHO). While tobacco can be used in many forms of course, one of the most common is cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada and accounts for 90% of all lung cancer deaths as well as roughly 80% of deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Smokers are also at increased risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, and increased health care utilization. (Source: CDC).

None of this is news to health care providers, yet millions of people continue to smoke and start smoking each year. The public is also better informed today than ever on the dangers of cigarette smoke.  Graphic labels, warnings and no shortage of literature highlighting the dangers of smoking are readily available. So if the public won’t listen to their GPs, what recourse could dental hygienists have in helping people quit?  The answer is simple, lots and by virtue of what we do, we have the ability to highlight other areas of physical concern that our patients may be less aware of.

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UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students advocacy projects




Every year BCDHA waits in anticipation to receive an invitation to attend the presentation of advocacy projects by UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students.  We were pleased that once again Diana Lin, a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and class Instructor, extended an invitation to come and hear the fantastic work these students have done.

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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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“The importance of advocacy”

advocateBeing an advocate means that you hope to influence public-policy within existing social, economic and political frameworks and institutions.  Individuals can advocate, and so can groups.

Your professional association, the BC Dental Hygienist Association (BCDHA) and its national partner, the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA), is the body through which advocacy happens for the profession. The BCHDA operates under a simple guiding principle, that all British Columbians should have access to the quality preventative oral health care services that dental hygienists provide.  BCDHA collaborates with government, the regulatory body and clients in order to serve its members. Members get many benefits but of critical importance is a single body through which advocacy and promotion of the profession can occur.

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Dental Hygienists: Critical Members of the Primary Care Team- By Jillian Tan BDSc., RDH

JillianTanJillian Tan BDSc., RDH, is a recent graduate of the UBC Dental Hygiene Program. She has an interest in policy, advocacy, and promoting the profession through her recent employment at a dental office in Langley as well as through her e-portfolio which can be found at, http://blogs.ubc.ca/jilliantan/. Jillian was gracious enough to share her thoughts on what it means to be a primary care provider in the blog below.  Thank you Jillian for sharing your thoughts with members. BCDHA thanks you for insights and perspective.

There are many roles that may be attributed to a dental hygienist: a clinician, an oral health advocate, an educator, a researcher, and administrative positions. However, an all-encompassing title for a dental hygienist should be a primary care provider.

To fully understand the role of a dental hygienist as a primary heath provider, it is pertinent to first know the definition of primary health. Primary health involves direct provision of health services, as well as facilitating access to other aspects of the health care system, including referrals and specialists.1 Primary health services may include: prevention and treatment of common diseases and injuries, basic and emergency services, referrals to and coordination with other levels of care (such as hospitals and specialist care), primary mental health care, palliative and end-of-life care, health promotion, healthy child development, primary maternity care, and rehabilitation services.1 Furthermore, it is important to remember that primary health involves all aspects of a person’s health. Thus, it is crucial to recognize the social determinants of health: income and social status, social support networks, education and literacy, employment/working conditions, social environments, physical environments, personal health practices and coping skills, healthy child development, biology and genetic endowment, health services, gender, and culture.2

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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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Working with passion and social conscience

carolCarol Yakiwchuk has a strong sense of community and social responsibility that she infuses into her daily work.

Carol began her dental hygiene education at the University of Manitoba’s School of Dental Hygiene and loved every minute of her time there. “What really appealed to me was the ability to make a difference in the community, and especially with under-served populations. The University of Manitoba’s dental hygiene curriculum places a strong emphasis on community health and I have to say that I had wonderful mentors and educators who believed in and supported me during my education.”

Over the years, Carol has had the opportunity to practice many facets of dental hygiene; as an educator, researcher, clinician in private practice and with special needs populations, project manager and research assistant for a provincial health promotion program on Early Childhood Caries prevention, and also as the Manager of the Health Promotion Unit of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Community Oral Health (CCOH) which is the Faculty of Dentistry’s non-profit department focused on under-served populations. For nearly nine years during her work with the CCOH, Carol provided dental hygiene services and collaboratively developed and delivered oral health programs to individuals and communities throughout Manitoba. “During this time I saw the need, as well as the barriers and challenges for individuals living in the community with intellectual challenges. I knew I wanted to help and make some sort of difference for them.”

Several years ago, while presenting at the Special Care Association annual conference on the topic of effective oral health promotion strategies in long term care, Carol and her colleagues had the pleasure of meeting many like-minded professionals, including Dr. Steven Perlman, the founder of the Special Olympics “Special Smiles” healthy athletes program. “One day Dr. Perlman phoned me and offered me a chance to get involved by training me as the Clinical Director for the Special Smiles Program at the World Winter Games held in February 2009 in Boise, Idaho. This was my first introduction to the Special Olympics (SO) organization and I was so inspired and amazed. I had a real feeling of pride in the athletes and genuine amazement for their accomplishments.”

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What is the 365-Day Rule?

Excerpted from the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia.

Under current regulation, dental hygienists in B.C. may provide services within
their Scope of Practice only if a patient has been examined by a dentist within
the past 365 days, or on the same day prior to treatment; those hygienists with
a residential care licence are exempt from this requirement. Any specific and
appropriate instructions which may be given by the dentist must be followed.
CDHBC has been working to remove this restriction due to the
inaccessibility/unavailability of dentists to many clients in remote areas or
with physical restrictions, which therefore limits their access to dental
hygiene care. It is the College’s position that these clients should be given
the choice to receive diagnosis and care from a dental hygienist if they are
unable to access a dentist; the hygienist would then be required to provide the
appropriate referrals and assist with facilitating referrals to a dentist or
other oral health care professionals as necessary.

From, http://www.cdhbc.com/Forms—Resources.aspx