October is National Dental Hygiene Month and we are lucky to have an amazing team of dental hygienists at Falmouth Dental Arts: Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and our newest addition Leigha!
From a patient perspective, this incredible group of compassionate and knowledgeable healthcare professionals are the people you interact with most: they perform your routine check-ups and cleanings, and help your teeth get squeaky clean for the dentist’s review. They also love to educate patients so you are empowered to make the best choices for your unique dental needs.
So, what does it take to be a dental hygienist? What are some of the tricks-of-the-trade? To celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month, we asked Ashley from our team of phenomenal hygienists to share a little more about what they do.
Ashley: Dental hygienists must attend accredited dental school or university majoring in Dental Hygiene. The majority of current programs take four years to complete, with graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree. Upon receiving their degree, hygienists are eligible to take a series of board exams in order to become licensed and to work in a dental office.
Ashley: One of the best parts of being a dental hygienist is building connections and relationships with our patients. Learning about our patients not only makes our appointments fun and engaging but also helps us make recommendations that work with their lifestyle. We love our patients!
Ashley: Choosing a career in Dental Hygiene is a commitment to life-long learning. Technologies and care philosophies are always evolving which means we as providers are constantly engaging in education and professional development to ensure we are providing “crest of the wave” care. In fact, we are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years as part maintaining an active license in the state of Maine.
Ashley: The electric toothbrush. It is more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush and stimulates the gum tissue in order to promote gum health. It enhances the homecare routine especially for those with dexterity issues and braces.
Ashley: Simple, FLOSS. Flossing daily can prevent a myriad of dental and overall health issues. Who knew a piece of string could have such an impact on overall health?!
Ashley: Collectively, one of the most rewarding elements of being a hygienist at Falmouth Dental Arts is our whole-body approach to dental care. We recognize the impact of oral health on overall health and collaborate with our patients to create an individualized care plan. This approach is empowering and motivating for both us as hygienists and for the patient. As a result, treatment success is increased. It’s very rewarding!
Thank you, Ashley!
And thank you to all of our outstanding dental hygienists — Diann, Kelly, Jean, Erin, Alex, and Leigha! If you have more questions for our team about your oral health care, or need to schedule your next appointment, give our office a call at 207.781.5900.
Your pearly whites get a lot of attention, but when was the last time you thought about the health of your gums? Your gums play a vital role in your beautiful smile and your overall health. When you brush and floss your teeth you’re not just preventing cavities, you’re also protecting your gums from developing gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, it is the leading cause of tooth loss, impacts your overall health, and as we’ve discussed on the blog before, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. So what are the ways you can improve the health of your gums? Here are 5 tips to help keep your gums healthy:
A proper brushing technique is essential to preventing gum disease. Start with a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush at a 45 degree angle to your gum line. Use short strokes and make sure you get all surfaces of your teeth. You should spend 2 minutes, twice a day on brushing. When you’re done with your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue, too! If you have questions about your brushing technique, don’t hesitate to ask your hygienist for a quick demonstration at your next appointment…our hygiene team loves to help and share their knowledge!
An important part of your oral health care regimen, flossing helps remove food and plaque from between the teeth. We know flossing can be a hard habit to stick with so if you’re looking for other ways to clean between your teeth, check out our blog post on alternatives to traditional flossing. If you notice any bleeding when you floss let us know at your next visit–this can be an early sign of periodontal disease. Find a method that works for you and stick with it!
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health! People who smoke cigarettes are four times as likely to have periodontal disease, and smoking makes it harder to manage treatments. Let us know if you have questions about smoking and oral health care or if you need help quitting…we want to support you!
Eating a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables is good for your body, good for your teeth, and good for your gums. By incorporating foods that are rich in Omega-3s, vitamin C, and fiber you are not only getting essential nutrients, you are reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system, and in the process supporting the health of your gums as well. Snack on some almonds, bell peppers, and leafy greens for the win!
Coming in for regular check-ups with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos is an important part of your oral health care. Seeing us regularly helps us monitor the health of your gums and teeth and notice if there are early signs of gum disease we can help you reverse. We are your partners in oral health care and want to help you have effective dental care for a healthy mouth and a healthy life!
If you have questions about the health of your gums or need to schedule your next appointment, please call us at 207.781.5900. We are working diligently to schedule patients with our new safety protocols, and appreciate your patience. We look forward to seeing you!
Pack your toothbrush! Let’s travel around the world and learn about tooth culture in other countries! While the goal of oral health is the same across the globe, other cultures have different values and practices surrounding teeth. At FDA, we love an opportunity to learn…come join us in this dental exploration!
What do your kids do when they lose a tooth? Throw it up on the roof? If you lived in Vietnam, that is exactly what they would do! There are oodles of interesting teeth traditions beyond the tooth fairy. For example, in Mexico, kids put their teeth in a little box for El Raton, a magic mouse, kids in South Africa put their lost teeth in their slipper for another magic mouse, and Yupik children in Alaska feed their teeth to the family dog with the hope it will help a new healthy tooth replace it. You and your kids can learn about more traditions from around the world with the book Throw Your Tooth on the Roof!
Americans are known for their love of straight teeth and can spend a lot of time with a dentist or orthodontist to achieve that perfectly aligned smile. In Japan, however, you might ask your dentist to give you a more crooked, pointy grin with Yaeba. Yaeba, or “double tooth” is a cosmetic procedure to make a cap for the canine teeth that is longer and pointier. It is associated with youthfulness and natural beauty and a popular trend for young women.
The toothbrush is an integral part of our oral health regimen and key to keeping plaque at bay, but have you ever tried Miswak? Miswak is an Arabic word meaning “tooth-cleaning stick” and is considered to be the first documented form of dental hygiene. Made from the Salvadora persica tree, it is popular throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, and is gaining popularity in other parts of the world as well. In fact, there are some studies that show that using a Miswak is as effective or greater than a toothbrush. Given that it’s 100% natural and biodegradable, more and more people are turning to Miswak as a natural oral health care option.
We hope you enjoyed these fascinating facts from around the world! If you know about any other fun tooth culture trivia, share it on our Facebook page! We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
Safety and infection control has always been a top priority for us in providing you with the highest quality oral health care. Perhaps you’ve seen our staff wear PPE for certain appointments in the past, but today per the guidance of the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) we now wear them for every appointment. It’s a change for all of us and does shift the feeling of the environment we create for your care. A big part of our oral health care practice is to make sure that as our patient you are comfortable, your needs are accommodated, and you feel connected to our compassionate team of professionals. That can feel harder now that our team is behind layers of equipment, but even if you can’t see our smiles, please know that we are so happy to answer questions and want to do everything we can to help you feel safe and comfortable in our office. Many of you have questions about our PPE, so we thought we’d give you a peek behind the mask and tell you about the components of our protective equipment and what it’s like for us to wear them. We spoke with Dr. Brunacini to learn more.
We have always practiced “universal precautions” in the clinical areas which include gloves, surgical masks, and safety glasses. Now, because of the nature of dentistry and how coronavirus is spread, we have taken additional precautions to manage what is called the “droplet precautions.” These additional precautions include surgical caps to cover our hair, N95 masks, face shields, shoe covers to protect our shoes, and washable full gowns. We are basically covered head-to-toe! There are even plexiglass barriers installed at the front desk for safety.
Of course, wearing many layers of PPE can get pretty hot, so the A/C is running colder than before. Also, I find the need to change gowns for each appointment slows me down in checking patients throughout the day. The biggest challenge is maintaining the relationship aspect with our patients. Feeling buried in PPE can create a challenge for us to help our patients feel comfortable and trusting, especially when we are meeting someone for the first time. Patient comfort is one of our top priorities, so we are all doing our best to find ways to communicate our compassion.
During the closure, it was very difficult to obtain PPE through the normal supply chains. There were some days that I simply searched for ways to obtain the PPE, and didn’t know when it would even arrive as a lot of PPE was backordered. It does seem that the PPE production backlog has improved slightly, which is allowing us to get the necessary PPE.
We are requiring all patients to arrive wearing masks until they are escorted into the dental room. We are also asking everyone to be patient and understanding of the screening questions that we must do prior to their appointments. It may be repetitive, but it is prudent to do in order to keep people safe. We are grateful to have our wonderful family of patients to care for, and really appreciate everyone doing their part to keep our office safe for everyone.
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!
From our FDA family to you and your family: thank you for being our patient…we’re in this together! We’re happy we can continue to safely provide you with the highest quality oral health care. If you have any questions about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice, please visit our COVID protocol page or give us a call at 207.781.5900. If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch as soon as we catch up on our backlog; we appreciate your patience! We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
Are you the type of person who gets excited or nervous before your dentist appointment with Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or Dr. Smith? Although it’s completely normal to have a few butterflies before you sit in the exam chair, you should be excited that you’re not sitting in a dental office in 1720–you might not have had any teeth when you left! At FDA, we are committed to patient comfort no matter the century. But what was it like being a patient of dentists 100, 200, or even 300 years ago? Let’s take a look!
The 1700’s saw the first professionals trained in the treatment of teeth. However, a combination of disease, high-sugar diets, and very few fresh fruits and vegetables meant most people suffered from slow and painful tooth decay and loss. Because of this, 18th century dentists were focused on tooth extraction and not tooth preservation.
The tools used for extracting teeth were not elegant–and anesthetic technology had yet to be invented. Forceps, pliers, hot coals, and string were all common tools of the dental trade. In fact, specially-trained dentists only serviced the wealthy; middle and lower class folks frequently visited their local blacksmith if they had a toothache.
With tooth loss running rampant, false teeth were extremely common. Ivory and porcelain were popular materials for making a set of false teeth– but nothing could beat genuine human teeth! It was common practice to pay people (especially children and teenagers) for their teeth. Although it seems incredible now, during a time when poverty was common, a penny for an incisor or molar was a tempting offer for many people!
Three important scientific discoveries during the 19th century propelled dentistry towards the science and practice of preserving smiles.
American dentist Horace Wells first applied the anesthetic effects of nitrous oxide in a tooth extraction, leading to more comfortable dental visits and pioneering other anesthetic techniques.
A few states away, Charles Goodyear was experimenting with techniques to make a flexible rubber, which he called Vulcanite. Dentist Thomas W. Evans took Goodyear’s vulcanite and created a rubberized denture–a much more cost effective option compared to ivory or porcelain. Dr. Evans eventually created a set of vulcanite dentures for Mr. Goodyear.
Last but certainly not least, 19th century microbiologist Dr. Willoughby D. Miller was the first dentist to suggest that bacteria in the mouth was to blame for tooth decay. So began the never-ending fight against cavities!
The 19th century laid the groundwork for the modern practice of dentistry, and the 20th century continued to build on that foundation.
The use of x-ray technology on teeth affirmed dentistry’s commitment to tooth preservation. Dr. Frederick McKay devoted his dental practice to the study of fluoride’s effects on enamel health–ultimately leading to the fluoridation of city water across the United States.
Dental schools took definite shape in the 20th century; the American Dental Association started the practice of formal licensure for clinics and practice; modern dental tools such as tarter scrapers and removers were invented and standardized across the practice.
As you can see, the 21st century is the best place to be when it comes to dental care. The largest shift from the 20th to the 21st century was the introduction of dental hygienists as integral members of the dental practice.
We are grateful for our incredible team of hygienists, they help us provide you with the best oral health care. We’re also happy that all of our dentists are kind, talented, and trained medical professionals–not blacksmiths with pliers and a spare moment! We pride ourselves on providing not just great dentistry, but compassionate and stress-free oral health care!
We look forward to seeing you at your next 21st century dentist appointment. Be sure to read through our COVID Protocol page to make sure that you’re prepared for your appointment!