Suze Orman: Save money on dental care

Dental insurance, according to Suze Orman, America’s personal financial expert, is in most cases not a wise purchase. Suze says that the best way to pay for dental services is through a dental savings plan. Haven’t heard about them? Most people haven’t, but Suze wants to change that. If you want to save 10%- 60% on dental care, and not have to worry about the restrictions, limitations and exclusions associated with traditional dental insurance, check out why Suze wants you to get a dental savings plan in this video.

Serving at the pleasure of the people: Clinical excellence does not excuse the absence of basic etiquette

By Eileen Morrissey, RDH, MS

I’ve just returned from an office visit for a checkup on my new health-care “product.” This was intended to be a short appointment, strictly a follow-up. The practitioner who treats me kept me waiting for a full hour. When she finally came to retrieve me, she called my name with a blank stare – no smile, no greeting. She turned and I watched her back as I followed her down the hall to the treatment room. This is how it goes at every visit.

Because I was following her lead (and writing this column in my head), I said nothing, sat down, and patiently waited as I’d been doing all morning. She did not acknowledge her tardiness. In fact, there was no small talk of any kind. At this point, I’m guessing we were well into her lunch hour, so she was probably annoyed and anxious to get me out. The waiting area was empty when she retrieved me. After reading my chart, her first words were: “How are they?”

I was referred to this clinician from within the practice because she was touted as a specialist. I’m told she is a legend. I was informed that she has built a following because of her conscientiousness and attention to detail.


If there is a take-home message, it begets these questions. RDH, are you a legend in your dental practice? And if one is a “legend,” so to speak, does that excuse the absence of basic courtesy and social skills?

I have a following in my dental practice, as does my coworker hygienist, Danielle. We are both very skilled at what we do. We are also well versed in the basics. That would be Practice Etiquette 101.

dental clinical etiquette

If I were ever to keep someone waiting that long – which is more than the equivalent of an entire patient appointment in our office – my doctor would take control within 11 minutes and figure out some sort of plan B. No one waits more than 7-10 minutes in our office. In fact, there is typically no wait. We take pride in valuing our patients’ time. Those who arrive late may be seen but not at the expense of those who arrive punctually for the appointments that follow.

Product Report

OmniOptic by Orascoptic

Orascoptic said the introduction of OmniOptic is an interchangeable magnification loupe that allows clinicians to select the optimal magnification power for each procedure. The four magnification powers range from 2.5x – 5.5x. The OmniOptic system also allows users to increase magnification during the course of their careers. The design features a magnetic anchor built into the carrier lens of the frame, and clinicians can upgrade magnification without having to purchase a new loupe system.


Varnish Pen by Young Dental

The Varnish Pen is an all-in-one varnish delivery system. A quick twist and easy press sends varnish right from the applicator system to the teeth, eliminating the need to double-dip, open difficult packaging, and keep track of applicator brushes. Young’s Varnish Pen contains a single-dose 5% sodium fluoride varnish made with xylitol that provides sensitivity relief. The thin, translucent no-mix formula is easy to handle without stringing or clumping, and is available in mint and assorted (mint, grape and bubblegum) flavors.


ElectroMatic by KaVo Kerr

KaVo recently launched of ElectroMatic for dental professionals transitioning to electric handpieces. The ElectroMatic motor system delivers constant speed and constant torque, allowing precise preparations at the defined speed. Easily adjust the speed on the control system display for a wide range of indications. Three distinct options in the ElectroMatic series offers the versatility to choose the right system to fit your treatment needs. The plug-and-play system connects to a standard air tubing and automatically adjusts to the air pressure of the existing dental unit.

Interactive brushing from Philips; plus, Ugly toothpastes focuses on the organic ingredients

By Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH

Sonicare DiamondClean Smart

The Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush, which recently launched at the California Dental Association meeting and was highlighted at RDH Under One Roof, delivers an advanced interactive brushing experience. According to Philips, this smart brush offers complete care for a healthier mouth through intuitive brushing and personalized coaching based on feedback from the radio-frequency identification brushheads. Simply download the app and sync the brush with your smart phone and begin the experience. Features from the Philips brush include:

  • A smart timer paces each quad for two minutes of brushing. The three intensity settings are low, medium, and high. Five modes provide different types of brushing experiences, including one for tongue care. A pressure sensor alerts the user with a pulsating handle and a light on the handle.
  • The smart sensor technology syncs with the cell phone. Location is tracked in facial and lingual segments.A scrubbing sensor prompts the user to use less motion.
  • The personalized coaching on the phone’s app provides information on needed touch-up areas, as well as areas requiring more focus. A 3D map of the mouth and a progress report is also available. In addition, there’s a brush head performance monitor.

DiamondClean Smart comes in four colors – black, pink, white, and silver. Visit for more information.

Ugly Toothpaste

Personal care products formulated with non-psychoactive hemp and cannabidiol oils are starting to hit the market. I recently came across one such product. Let me introduce you to Ugly by Nature, a raw, whipped toothpaste made with all organic and natural ingredients.

Ugly toothpaste was developed by Dr. Paul Herman who set out to make a nonallergenic toothpaste. Initially, Ugly consisted of three ingredients. Over a period of 18 months, the formula evolved to include 10 ingredients that Dr. Herman chose for their efficacy, consistency, and flavor: bentonite clay, purified water, coconut oil, birch xylitol, diatomaceous earth, coconut activated charcoal, hygdrogen peroxide, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, organic flavors, and hemp derived cannabidiol oil.

Intraoral camera detects inflammation: SoproCare enhances diagnostic capabilities

By Amber Auger, RDH, MPH

The roles of the dental hygienist are an educator, clinician, researcher, manager and an advocate for prevention of diseases.1 We have the ability to address the patients’ high-risk factors for tooth decay, periodontal disease, and systemic diseases while bridging the educational gap between periodontal health and systemic health. This unique role could save the life of a patient by identifying symptoms for life-threatening conditions.

Influential patient education is essential to establishing change in the life of the patient, and an intraoral camera elevates our ability to connect the education to the patient. Acteon has created the SoproCare camera that differentiates the color of tissues to reveal inflammation.2

SoproCare was created for dental clinicians to educate during periodontal and prophylaxis treatment.2 The camera offers three modes: Perio mode, Cario mode, and Daylight Mode. Each mode has been designed to engage patients and increase compliance to treatment recommendations.

Perio mode allows the clinician to provide a more complete assessment of the patient’s oral health by rapidly assessing gingival inflammation, plaque, and calculus.2 Through the usage of LED lights, the camera demonstrates new plaque, which is shown as white, and the old plaque that is demonstrated in a yellow and orange shade.2

This allows patients to see the bacteria that was left behind even after their most recent brushing, which increases their need to change their oral health regime. The degree of gingival inflammation is detected with a light pink color to represent mild inflammation through a deep magenta to represent severe inflammation.2

SoproCare intraoral camera
Acteon has created the SoproCare camera that differentiates the color of tissues to reveal inflammation.

In addition, the images allow the clinician to identify specific areas for the patient to improve on, and the images can be used document current oral conditions. The initial images can serve as a baseline to track improvements or progression of disease. Clinicians can praise the patients’ enhanced home care techniques during their preventive care appointments.

Reassuring the anxious patient: Needle-free anesthetic options decrease sensitivity or pain during hygiene procedures

By Lory Laughter, RDH, MS

Every dental professional has experienced the fearful or anxious patient. The individual’s first words to you are, “I hate going to the dentist.” Dental fear or apprehension is a leading reason why appointments are not made, pain is self-treated, and why, even after all of your education efforts, patients do not return to complete care.

Six years ago, I met my first patient with real dental phobia. He didn’t tell me how much he disliked being in my presence. Instead we spent one full appointment talking about exactly what might happen in the dental chair. It took him seven tries to call and book the appointment, even though he knew some of the staff members personally.

He actually drove by the building or into the parking lot a number of times before he could come inside. This was a level of patient discomfort I had never witnessed. Thankfully, I worked in an environment where providing care was more important than production goals.

After rapport was built and the patient agreed to treat his periodontal infection, the biggest contributing factor to his fear emerged. He was worried about pain and severely afraid of needles. It has been reported that almost one-half of American adults experience dental fear of at least a moderate level. In fact, 5% to 10% of adults report avoiding dental care due to fear.1

hygiene anesthetic

A quick search of online blogs and chat groups highlight two issues discussed most prominently for why people do not seek treatment for dental problems – discomfort/pain and fear of needles. We practice in an exciting time where both barriers can be addressed successfully and easily.

Even patients who may not be anxious but experience sensitivity during preventive appointments are resistant to injected anesthetic. The objections can range from numbness interfering with work or other activities to simply not wanting local anesthetic when no drilling is taking place.

Educators during the lunch hour: Innovations in water flossing led to CE innovations too

By Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

“Flossgate” happened in 2016. For those of you who may have forgotten, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Associated Press asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture for evidence to support the use and effectiveness of dental floss. When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines, the flossing recommendation had been removed without notice. The AP received a letter from the government acknowledging that the effectiveness of floss had never been researched, as required. Thus, the AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade that focused on 25 studies that compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of a toothbrush and floss. The results? Evidence for flossing was deemed “weak, very unreliable, or of very low quality and carries a moderate to large potential for bias.”1

As dental professionals, we constantly battle with patients over the “f” word—patients don’t do it or lie to us that they do use it, or they use floss haphazardly. When flossgate broke, patients, family, and the media asked dental professionals what to do—floss or not? However, many of those asking did not know that there is an effective alternative to string flossing – flossing with water! A water flosser, specifically the Waterpik Water Flosser, has been researched and shown to be effective in removing biofilm and debris interproximally. It’s better than traditional string floss and safe for use in the natural dentition and with orthodontic, implant, and periodontal patients.

Originally known as the producer of oral irrigators, in 1962 Water Pik Inc. was founded as AquaTec Corporation of Fort Collins, Colorado, by hydraulic engineer John Mattingly and dentist Gerald Moyer. They wanted to create an oral irrigator for use in dentistry. The oral irrigator received its first patent in 1967. One of the first studies was published in 1969 showing plaque and calculus reductions by those who used the oral irrigator. The 50th clinical study proving the efficacy of the oral irrigator was presented in 2005. The oral irrigator officially became known as the Waterpik Water Flosser in 2009, and this year Waterpik Water Flosser celebrates the original oral irrigator’s 55th anniversary.2

Respiratory diseases: Do breathing issues signal complications caused by periodontal disease?

By Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, BS, MEd, PhD

Most of us have treated patients with respiratory issues such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When we treat patients who have breathing issues, we remember that we have to sit them up a little more in case they have a difficult time lying flat in the chair. Another very common thing we are familiar with is that certain inhalers, particularly those that contain steroids, can cause oral fungal infections, so patients should always rinse their mouths out after inhaler use to decrease this chance. But did you know that there is an oral-systemic link between periodontal disease and some other serious respiratory issues? Periodontal disease bacteria may contribute to a higher risk of COPD in patients with respiratory depression and to a higher risk of pneumonia in patients who are hospitalized.

You know to teach patients to take care of their oral tissues, but do you discuss the potential of periodontal disease to impact their breathing issues? I don’t think many of us think of that when we are going over our patients’ medical histories. We should focus on it more, and we should look at the whole patient and all of his or her medical issues. As dental hygiene professionals, we need to increase our knowledge about the various inflammatory diseases our patients have in order to know how these disease processes may be aggravated with the bacteria from their periodontal disease.

Patients who have advanced respiratory issues are more susceptible to infections from periodontal disease bacteria.1 Several studies have examined whether periodontal disease correlates with a higher risk of COPD, and the results have been mixed.2 Many studies have verified that there is a direct link between periodontal disease bacteria and hospital-acquired pneumonia, an infection of the lungs contracted during a stay in the hospital or a long-term care facility.3

Turmeric in oral health: Benefits are touted on social media, but research results are limited

By Amanda Dutra, BSDH, Leslie Briceño, BSDH, Jackie Dent, BSDH, and Kathryn Bell, RDH, MS

Within the last several years, a growing interest in all-natural medicines and products has surfaced on popular social media sites and marketing agents, such as Pinterest and Livestrong. Social media continuously draw attention to the alternatives to traditional medicine. Turmeric has become a commonly recommended agent on these sites.

Turmeric has been touted to boost cognitive function, fight inflammation, support cardiovascular function, promote youthful skin, support joint and muscle health, boost detoxification, promote healthy mood balance, and support natural weight loss.1 Additionally, these sites also propose the use of turmeric as a tooth whitener, remedy for toothaches, and as an adjunct in tightening gums and healing gum inflammation.2

Turmeric is a widely used plant in Eastern medicine and is indigenous to Southeast Asia and cultivated in India.3 Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and is derived from an herb called the Curcuma longa. The active ingredient, curcuma, originates from the rhizomes of the Curcuma longa. The terms curcuma, curcumin, and turmeric are often used interchangeably. Curcuma or turmeric is typically orange with a rootlike structure. It can be found in various forms such as a dry yellow powder, tablets, or a liquid extract.

Its bitter yet slightly sweet taste is why turmeric is most commonly used as a fresh spice.3 However, research on turmeric also claims a wide spectrum of therapeutic effects such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and wound healing.4 Many developing countries rely on natural remedies such as turmeric for health care.3

Considering these recommendations are highly visible on social media, it is important to evaluate the current research supporting these oral health outcomes. The purpose of this article is to summarize the available literature regarding the use of turmeric for oral health benefits.

Dry comfort: A variety of factors impair salivary function in an aging population

By Jamie Collins, RDH, CDA

The Silent Generation and baby boomers are getting older, and even those in Generation X are feeling the aches and pains of aging. Age and wisdom are often accompanied by health concerns and ailments treated by two, three, or more medications. These medications can contribute to xerostomia, among other potential side effects.

Clinically we do our due diligence when we seat a patient and update the person’s medical history at every appointment. It never fails to surprise me how many patients do not know what medications they’re taking or for what reasons. I’ve learned through trial and error that my questions must be specific and include verbiage that pointedly asks about medications and surgeries. Often, in patients’ minds, “any changes” does not include changes unless they’re related to the oral cavity.

Educating individuals about the oral-systemic link and whole body connection, and informing them about risk factors, are essential to help them think beyond what they were taught early in life. My grandmother was of the generation that went to the dentist only when there was pain, and her visits usually ended with the extraction of one or more teeth. In my clinical experience, the elderly tend to wait for pain rather than focus on prevention. Changing that mindset is not easy, especially when it’s combined with fear of the dentist.

Long gone are the days when a medium or hard toothbrush was the standard, and I’ve often heard patients complain how they’re unable to find a hard brush anymore. While I’m cringing when I hear patients want a hard brush, I am also rejoicing that retailers are not selling them anymore. Education, education, and more education is needed to speak to patients about the risk factors of abrasion and about ideal homecare techniques. Changing the perception of a generation raised on hard brushing and going to the dentist only when something hurts is no easy task. However, for many patients, the brushing and flossing are just the tip of the iceberg. The biggest risk of declining oral health often comes in the form of xerostomia (see sidebar).