Hygienists weigh in: The most helpful hygiene products

May 5, 2015
Kevin Henry
Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry is the group editorial director for Advanstar Dental Media and has more than 15 years of experience in the dental publications field. He can be reached by email at khenry@advanstar.com. Also, you can follow him on Twitter (@kgh23).

Issue 5

Every practice is a little different in terms of the role the hygienist plays in the grand scheme of helping deliver good oral health care to patients. Some dental offices have the hygienist performing a higher level of care, while others may have the hygiene staff focus more on cleanings, diagnostics and patient education. 

Every practice is a little different in terms of the role the hygienist plays in the grand scheme of helping deliver good oral health care to patients. Some dental offices have the hygienist performing a higher level of care, while others may have the hygiene staff focus more on cleanings, diagnostics and patient education. 

Either way, it’s important for hygienists to be aware of the vast array of hygiene products available and know which ones can best help them do their job. With that in mind, we asked 14 hygienists from around the country for a product they would recommend to their peers (and dental practices) to improve the lives of their patients. Here’s what they told us …

For Idaho hygienist Regina Snyder, the portability of the NOMAD Pro 2 X-ray system is a big plus for her practice. She believes the portable aspect also helps keep elderly patients safe, saying patients in their 80s and 90s visit her practice.

“It’s really been invaluable for us because we’re able to take it to the patient without the patient having to move around or modify the way they’re sitting in the chair so we can reach down with the arm of a traditional X-ray unit,” Snyder explained.

Snyder also said the NOMAD helps her practice be more efficient.

“Using the NOMAD definitely cuts down on the time it takes to expose the X-ray because, again, you’re not dealing with having to pull the wall mount unit out of wherever it’s coming from,” Snyder said. “You’re not having to flip the head around and adjust that portion of the machine to get it lined up where you need it. And given the fact that we do assisted or exhilarated hygiene, we are constantly looking for things to improve our efficiency. And the NOMAD has been a very important part of that.”

For more information, visit aribex.com.

Related reading: Why mobile imaging might be right for your dental practice

For New York’s Jenn DiVincenzo, using Ivoclar Vivadent’s Fluor Protector S has been a game-changer for her and her practice.

“Comparing it to the fluoride varnishes we have used in the past, I love the application of this product,” DiVincenzo said. “Most are pasty, icky and stiffen up before I am done. With Fluor Protector S, I can get through an entire quadrant.”

According to the manufacturer, Fluor Protector S is designed to work effectively for patients of all ages. Unlike high viscosity varnishes, Fluor Protector S spreads easily along the tooth’s surface with ideal flow and wetting properties. Due to its low viscosity, Fluor Protector S gains access to proximal surfaces without difficulty. 

“It’s a great product, and I would definitely recommend it to any hygienist out there,” DiVincenzo said. 

For more information, visit ivoclarvivadent.com.

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When we asked Indiana’s Brittany Ashenfelter to name the one product that makes her day better as a hygienist, she answered quickly.

“Practicing as a hygienist, my favorite item to make my day better is a great pair of loupes from Orascoptic. This allows me to be able to visualize any calculus or abnormalities in the oral cavity, which allows for a smooth clinical experience as the clinician. The newest version (Orascoptic’s XV1 Loupes and Light) is amazing, and I recently was able to demo these new loupes at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting.

“These loupes are lightweight, easy-to-use and adapt to any shapes and sizes of heads. Also, the cable-less approach and the touchless adjustment of light makes these loupes easy to utilize within the clinical experience.”

And her advice to her hygienist peers?

“Although purchasing loupes can be an added expense to a dental practice, utilizing loupes allows for me to clinically provide the best dental hygiene treatment overall. If your dental practice will not provide loupes for you, as a dental hygienist, I feel this ‘instrument’ is the second-most important instrument to utilize besides your scalers and currettes.”

For more information, visit orascoptic.com.

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For North Carolina’s Anastasia Turchetta, RDH, the DENTSPLY Midwest RDH Freedom cordless handpiece makes her day in a number of ways.

“Really, I look at it as a help for me internally and externally,” Turchetta said. “Internally, the patient’s mouth is either composed of narrow arches, strong cheek and tongue muscles and/or teeth that are not aligned, making the true adaptation of a prophy cup holding paste unreliable when stain and plaque removal above and just under the gumline are the purpose.

“Externally, when patients are seated in the chair, the incline varies as does the patient’s height,” she continued. “There are so many times that I wonder how effective I am with a handpiece that is attached to a cord?”

Additionally, Turchetta says the ergonomic factors of the handpiece make a big difference in her day and the longevity of her career.

“I love it. It’s light. It maintains my correct ergonomic positioning in my hand, neck and back. It effortlessly adapts to my needs to deliver optimum results consistently rather than making me adapt to its limitations,” she added. 

For more information, visit dentsply.com/en-us/preventive.html.

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Ergonomics is at the forefront of the thoughts of Cathy Hester Seckman, RDH. With that in mind, it’s no surprise the Ohio hygienist chose the Crown Seating Virtu saddle stool.

“I love the automatically correct posture, the ease of movement, the flexibility of adjustment and the ability to get close to tiny patients (I work in pedo),” she said. “I love the simplicity of the stool, the color choices, the elegance of design, the sturdiness of the casters, base and seat. I love the way I feel at the end of the day after working in a great, ergonomically correct position.”

She was also quick to point out ergonomics is something every hygienist (and dental professional) should think about, regardless of how long they’ve been practicing.

“A saddle stool is not for everyone, but any new hygiene graduate who plans to continue in the profession, even if it’s only for a few years, owes it to herself or himself to invest in the best stool he or she can find,” she said. “You must find the one that’s just right for you, both for daily comfort and for long-term health.”

For more information, visit crownseating.com.

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When asked about her favorite product, Andrea Kowalczyk, RDH, of Texas, not only took the opportunity to talk about a product but a health initiative as well.

“My favorite product, by far, is FluoriMax fluoride varnish from Elevate Oral Care,” Kowalczyk said. “It’s a brand new product and not sticky at all. I love it for several reasons. One, it is likely the most inexpensive, noninvasive way we can provide caries prevention and sensitivity relief for patients. It is quick and easy to apply, provides months of protection and is widely used in public health initiatives to help control our country’s caries epidemic.

“I wish hygienists knew how quick and easy it is for just about anyone (hygienist or not) to apply and how effective it is in preventing caries. Teeth only need be ‘toothbrush clean’ prior to application so professional application is not necessarily required.

“I love the long working time and amount of fluoride uptake. If we could get all those with a caries risk fluoride varnish, we would reduce caries significantly, saving people time and money and sparing them the pain of dental disease. It’s probably the most effective preventative modality we have in dentistry at present.”

For more information, visit elevateoralcare.com.

Related reading: Making the case for fluoride varnishes

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For Edie Shuman-Gibson, she says it’s a no-brainer to talk about a product that she considers a game-changer.

“I love my SurgiTel FLM loupes with Eclipse LED headlight, and I wouldn’t practice without them,” the Oklahoma hygienist said. “SurgiTel’s flip-up style is the best as it gives me the steepest declination angle, creating an ergonomically friendly, spine-saving work environment! The Eclipse LED headlamp is motion-activated so I don’t have to touch my headlight control to turn it on and off.”

So why does she love her SurgiTel loupes so much?

“Not all loupes are created equally,” she said. “Technology differs greatly. SurgiTel uses patented technology in its optics and offers the steepest declination angle on the market. Couple this with the motion-activated headlight, and your hygiene world just got exponentially better, safer and easier.”

And her advice to her hygienist peers?

“Don’t wait for the doc to buy it for you; invest in yourself. It’s your body and career so make the most of it!”

For more information, visit surgitel.com.

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As a hygienist for 43 years, Delaware’s Nancy Tannen Brohawn has had her share of aches and pains. When her thumb recently started bothering her, she knew it was time to start looking at a handpiece that could help her. She discovered the Young Hygiene Handpiece from Young Dental.

“It fits perfectly in my hand, it’s lightweight and it is offset just a little so it doesn’t have the drag of the cord,” she said. “Ergonomics are very important to me, and this handpiece has been great. Since I’ve been using it, I haven’t had any more problems with my thumb. I can honestly say using this handpiece has made me pain-free.”

For more information, visit youngdental.com.

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Young also has another fan, but with a different product line, in Dawn Moss of Illinois. She learned while recently working at another office the value of Young’s firm blue Contra Petite Web latex-free prophy angle.

“I’ve learned that the contra angle is very important to me. I can really feel the difference in my hand,” Moss said. “I also know the quality of Young because I used some cheaper ones at the practice where I was temping, and they didn’t even hold the paste all the way to the tooth.”

Moss said Young’s quality also stands out in another way.

“Cheaper prophy angles can lock up the gears and make things horrible,” she explained. “You also go through them much quicker. With Young’s angles, the petite webbing means it’s a smaller cup, which means I can get around the teeth much easier.”

For more information, visit youngdental.com.

 

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As the director of professional and clinical affairs for Water Pik, Inc., Deborah Lyle, RDH, BS, MS, knows exactly what to say when asked why Waterpik® Water Flossers should be a no-brainer for dental practices to recommend.

“Recommending this product meets the goal of helping the patient establish good oral hygiene,” Lyle said. “As hygienists, we want our patients to be healthy. We also know they spend a lot of time and energy worrying about floss and if they’re flossing properly. We now know that floss isn’t the gold standard when it comes to daily interdental cleaning. There’s no research to support the regular recommendation of dental floss so why are we continuing to push it to our patients?

“The Waterpik® Water Flosser meets three important criteria: It’s fast, easy, and effective. When we as hygienists and dental professionals get excited about it, our patients will pick up on that and be excited as well. You can see the difference when a patient uses the Water Flosser, and maybe even more importantly, they can see and feel the difference too.  It is a result that can be celebrated with the patient.”

For more information, visit waterpik.com.

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In the battle against oral cancer, Debbie Zafiropoulos, RDH, knows having a device that can help her detect the disease early is critical. For her, the device of choice is OralID.

“It’s a small, portable, non-intimidating screening device, and it’s made in America,” she said. “Dental hygienists can purchase this device as part of their tools to enhance patient care like we do with loupes, chairs and instruments!”

And what does she want her peers to know about it?

“OralID and the F.A.C.T. screening protocol added to oral abnormality screening systems will not only educate the patient on the thoroughness of screening exams, it will help prevent late-stage diagnosis of oral diseases,” she said.

For more information, visit oralid.com.

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What product does California’s Christine Brooke say makes her feel like a “superhero?” She says it’s the American Eagle double gracey curette.

“What I love is the fact that every time I pick up these instruments, they are reliable, consistent and extremely efficient, adding to my patient’s overall experience with a confident and happy hygienist,” Brooke said. “These instruments are super lightweight, which is a total hand saver!”

Brooke also said the sharpness of the instruments makes a difference.

“They are always sharp, making it a breeze to get through calculus removal,” she said. “You will notice less fulcrum pressure is required for you and the patient and keeps you moving through your procedure without having to stop for sharpening. Additionally, they always deliver a beautiful finish.”

For more information, visit am-eagle.com.

Related reading: American Eagle Instrument's XP Curettes minimize the need for sharpening

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For Virginia’s Diana Corbin, a microscope is one of the best dental technology advancements that has been made.

“I have been a dental hygienist for more than 33 years. Dental hygiene has changed so much since I started practicing, and these changes, such as digital X-rays, ultrasonics/piezos and salivary diagnostics, have been wonderful. They have changed the way I practice. I was lucky to start my career in an office that uses phase contrast microscopes when evaluating and diagnosing periodontal disease in our patients.

“I was so fortunate to start my career using microscopes because it made the infection so clear for both myself and my patient. This made me a better hygienist because we were able to identify the bacteria and treat our patients with more specific treatment plans. The microscope made everything clear to my patients. They understood they had an infection. They could see the bugs moving around and were very compliant and very happy with our treatment! Seeing the bugs myself really helped me to understand the patient’s individual infection and really taught me so much as well.

“The startled look on the faces of patients seeing the activity was fun, especially women, who would practically jump out of the chair. Their comment was, “That’s in my mouth?” Then they would ask, “How do I get rid of those things?” Patients depend on me to treat their disease and get them as stable as possible as soon as possible. My goal is always to individualize therapy for each patient, which this product does!”

For more information, visit bit.ly/PhaseMicro.

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For Utah’s Diane Bosgieter, destroying biofilm that could negatively impact the patient’s health was important … as was “wowing” that same patient when he or she saw the difference in his or her teeth after the biolfilm was gone. For her, the perfect product to make these things happen was the Cavitron Prophy-Jet Air Polishing Prophylaxis System from DENTSPLY Professional.

“In the practice where I work, we started targeting biofilm and inflammation on any level,” Bosgieter said. “I told patients that, before we had the Prophy-Jet, we used to send them home with the biofilm still on their teeth. Now we don’t. I can show them the difference, and it really wows them. Healthier gums mean a healthier patient.”

Bosgieter also said she notices a big difference when the Prophy-Jet is used in conjunction with sealants.

“When you’re trying to really clean those pits and fissures before you put on the sealant, it can’t be done without the Prophy-Jet,” she said. “It gets rid of the problems before they start so you can place that sealant with confidence and have more success.”

For more information, visit professional.dentsply.com. 

More on biofilm: Recent study finds saliva plays key role in caries prevention