Dental Nurses on the frontlines of PreventionPromotional Features
Posted by: Dental Design 11th October 2021
It’s a truth universally (although not always openly) acknowledged in the dental world that behind every successful dental practice lies an efficient, diligent and empathetic dental nurse or nurses.
These, often unsung, heroes of the dental world perform a multitude of roles. They are listed on the NHS Careers website as including sterilising and preparing instruments, processing x-rays, recording and filing patient information, cleaning and preparing the dental surgery ready for use. However, vital as these clinical duties are, the real value of a skilled dental nurse lies in their ability to connect with patients, to make them feel safe and well cared for, to ensure that they return. It is the dental nurse who really gets to know the patient, who often welcomes them in through the door, escorts them to the dentist’s chair, provides reassurance before and during procedures and rebooks them for the next appointment. They are one of the key elements in the patient journey.
So perhaps then, it is not surprising that many within the oral health industry are focussing on dental nurses as an effective conduit for educating patients about good oral health and, in particular, the issue of preventative oral health.
For prevention is particularly relevant right now. Not just because of Covid-19 (although the pandemic has certainly pushed the issue right to the forefront of the health policy maker’s agenda) but because, right across the public and private health arena, there is a growing acceptance that it will no longer be possible to sustain a health service that works purely on fixing problems after they have occurred. And nowhere does this become more pertinent than in oral health. After all, hardly a week goes by without a new piece of research linking poor oral health with some of the most onerous systemic illnesses of our time: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, even dementia. The message is becoming clearer by the day. Sort out the nation’s oral health and it should greatly reduce our burden on the NHS in years to come.
So where does this leave the dental nurse? Those with an interest in patient education could certainly consider expanding their role within the practice to include working with their patients to inform them about the critical importance of taking proper care of their oral health and, crucially, supporting them to do so, with a variety of tools.
The timing couldn’t be better. For, just as the importance of preventative dental health is becoming apparent, new treatments are being developed to provide this exact need and there is no reason why dental nurses couldn’t be the first professionals to embrace them. In Canada, Prevora, a clear, sustained-release, high-strength antiseptic dental coating (10% chlorhexidine), is gaining traction fast. The non-invasive treatment works by re-adjusting the mix of bacteria in the dental plaque, shifting it from dysbiosis to symbiosis, so that dental diseases are minimised.
Prevora arrives here in the UK this autumn with full MHRA approval for the prevention of root and coronal caries in high risk adults1. However, clinical observations2, and more recently a study3, has found that this treatment is showing significant potential in the management of periodontal disease.
Practices in Canada have reported a high degree of patient loyalty as a direct result of providing this treatment2, especially once the cost and systemic health benefits are made clear and particularly amongst the middle aged and older populations who, after all, are those most likely to suffer from these oral conditions2.
Here in the UK, Prevora can be applied by a dental nurse – albeit under the direction of another registrant who will also carry out the original screening and treatment decision – therapist or hygienist. Crucially it does not require a prescription, providing the perfect vehicle, at the right time, for these dedicated professionals to expand their role within their dental practice.
- Symington, J.M., Perry, R., Kumar, A., Schiff, R., 2014. Efficacy of a 10% chlorhexidine coating to prevent caries in at-risk community-dwelling adults. Acta Odontol. Scand. 72, 497– https://doi.org/10.3109/00016357.2013.871647.
- DiNardo J. 2018. Preventing poor oral health in older clients with multiple chronic conditions: the experience of the Gleam Smile Centre. Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, Oh Canada! Summer issue, 22-25.
- Nguyen, Q., 2020. Use of High-Concentration Chlorhexidine (Prevora®) for Reduction in ‘Need for Surgery’ in Patients with Chronic Periodontitis.
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.