Small steps can have a big impact

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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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UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program: Fourth year students, advocacy projects

OHCAs part of Dental Hygienists Week April 6-12, 2014, BCDHA has been featuring blogs that focus on dental hygienists at varying stages of their career.  Having looked back at the profession over the last few days, it seems fitting to use this post to look forward to the future of dental hygiene.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

March 20th, 2014 was a great day for the dental hygiene profession.  On this day, UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students presented their advocacy projects. This year, four student teams presented on a series topics that ranged from the creation of an ‘Ask A Hygienist’ website, a video series focused around the work dental hygienists do, an app called ‘Brushing up on Toothpaste’ that would allow people to learn more about active ingredients in toothpaste and which products were right for them, and last but certainly not least, a project focused on ensuring that UBC varsity athletes in high-impact sports could be provided with custom mouth-guards in collaboration with the UBC Dental Hygiene Degree Program.

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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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Thoughts on the profession “then and now” from Margit Strobl, BCDHA President 2004-2013

margitAs part of Dental Hygiene Week, BCDHA has the pleasure of featuring some thoughts on the profession from our past-presidents. 

  1. 1. What was different about dental hygiene (techniques, practice etc.) during the decade in which you were Board President?

I have been a dental hygiene educator for almost 20 years so I am considering this question from both an educator’s point of view and that of a board director at BCDHA. During the decade from 2004-present the practice of dental hygiene has pretty much stayed the same with the use of ADPIE (Assessment, Diagnosis, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) as the foundation of our process of care. One notable difference in dental hygiene curriculum however is the implementation of CAMBRA (caries management by risk assessment). This is a shift in thinking from the traditional philosophy of waiting until a cavity is formed then providing treatment to the use of aggressive preventive measures to reduce the risk of future cavities. Another relatively new technique is non-injectable local anesthetic called Oraqix. This has allowed dental hygienists to provide limited pain control to patients without having the dentist present. The dental profession never stays static. There are always new products, instruments and equipment being developed to make things faster and easier.

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Thoughts on the profession “then and now” from, Ginny Cathcart BCDHA President 1994-2003

Ginny March 16 2012As part of Dental Hygiene Week, BCDHA has the pleasure of featuring some thoughts on the profession from our past-presidents. 

1. What was different about dental hygiene (techniques, practice etc.) during the decade in which you were President?

  • We were perfecting and implementing a full process of care based on scientific research as introduced by scholars like Michele Darby, Margaret Walsh and Irene Woodall. It was a very exciting time in oral microbiology, genetics, and other biomedical and behavioral sciences and technologies.
  • We were measuring and recording periodontal status, doing oral cancer exams, using diagnostic tests, chemotherapeutics, lasers, photodynamic disinfection and advanced power debridement techniques among others.
  •  Instead of just teaching brushing and flossing, we were promoting self-care using highly regarded motivational techniques from the behavioral sciences.
  •  Registered Dental Hygienists measured the outcomes of their therapies and shared their findings with patients.
  • Many of us tried new techniques and therapies we never imagined when we graduated.

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Thoughts on the profession “then and now” from Shirley Bassett BCDHA Vice-President 1988-1990, President 1991-1992

S.Bassett1. What was different about dental hygiene (techniques, practice etc.) during the decade or so during which you were President?

Quite a bit has changed for the better since I was BCDHA President. A few notable examples below.

In the early 1980’s gloves, masks and eyewear were not standard practice in dental offices. However as awareness of HIV/AIDS grew, public concern for possible transmission of the disease through dental procedures led to the development of infection control guidelines with gloves, masks, and eyewear becoming the standard when treating all patients.

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Thoughts on the profession “then and now” from Bonnie Craig, BCDHA President 1964-1973

bonnie craigAs part of Dental Hygiene Week, BCDHA has the pleasure of featuring some thoughts on the profession from our past-presidents. 

1. What was different about dental hygiene (techniques, practice etc.) during the decade in which you were President?

Dental Hygiene practice between 1964 and 1973 was primarily clinical occurring in private dental practice settings and revolved around a serial listing of duties assigned through the Dentists’ Act with regulation of dental hygienists by the College of Dental Surgeons of BC. Dental hygienists did not wear gloves, nor did we utilize masks or eyewear. We simply washed our hands between patients and then went home to prepare dinner. What a change from today!

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A Tribute To My Mom, Jo Gardner- By Janice Cox BSc, RDH (retired)

In honour of Dental Hygienists Week April 6-12, 2014, BCDHA will be posting a series of blogs focused on dental hygiene and dental hygienists through the decades. We’re delighted to be able to profile Jo Gardner in a story written by her daughter, Janice Cox.

Jo's Graduation Photo.

Jo’s Graduation Photo.

My mother, Jo Gardner was an amazing woman both personally and professionally. She was born on May 31st, 1925 in Spokane Washington. She moved to Portland Oregon to attend the University of Oregon’s school of Dental Hygiene and graduated in 1947. While attending Dental Hygiene she met and married my father, Dr. Claude Gardner. Upon his graduation from Dentistry in 1948 they moved to Vancouver and, in 1951, their only child, me, was born. In this same year, the profession of Dental Hygiene was officially recognized in B.C. and Jo became the 3rd registrant. And so begins the story of my mother’s career in Dental Hygiene which spanned more than five decades.

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