Browse Category: Patient treatment and education

Tips, tools and tidbits to help educate our patients on why our job is so important to their over all health and well being.

Mouth guards and baseball

 A few seasons ago, I watched a kid run off the field spitting out teeth and blood and I couldn’t help but think his injuries could be minimal if he had a mouth guard in. Why is it so many sports require mouth guards as a standard of the uniform but, for some reason, baseball is left out of this requirement? The lack of player-to-player contact and the slower pace of the sport gives a false sense of comfort, illustrating the lack of need for mouth protection. This couldn’t be farther from  accurate. A thin streamlined mouth guard would be extremely beneficial for baseball and softball players for a variety of reasons. 

  • The batter- a wild pitch or a ball off the helmet can catch the batter right in the face or head. 
  • Base running- colliding with the baseman could mean a concusion and a mouth guard is an easy safe protection. 
  • Fielders- a ball takes a bad hop and knocks you right in the mouth. 
  • Catcher -yes they have a protective helmet on but they are the most susceptible player to be involved in collisions increasing their concussion risk.  

As I sit and watch my son slide into home, catch a bouncing ball at short stop or get hit by a wild pitch I can’t help to wonder why baseball doesn’t make this a requirement, like many other sports. Would I be able to get at 13 year old to be compliant with my wishes if his team thinks it’s ‘not cool’? Would the league see the benifits and make it a rule? Will baseball catch on once more teeth are broken or lost? I’m hoping some day soon our players will all be sporting the mouth protection they need and deserve and we can reduce the dental accidents associated with baseball. 
Please share your thoughts on this topic. If you have any suggestions please share. 

Ultrasonic Scalers and patient refusal

Would you use a rotary phone when you can connect instantly with a cell phone? Who gets up to change the tv channel when we have remote controls available to us? Since the invention of the wheel, inventions and advancements have allowed us to move forward and never look back.

     The world of dentistry should be no exception yet many dental hygienistsFullSizeRender (1) are not taking advantage of the tools available to them. I understand there is a financial obligation to staying current in this high-tech world and it is challenging for dental practices to purchase the latest greatest tools but I don’t know of any dental offices that do NOT have an ultrasonic scaler on hand. With this (not so new) technology available to us, why do we not use it as often as we should?

Our patients complain. That’s why.

     We are letting our patients talk us out of it. They tell us they don’t like it so we back down and don’t use it. The dentist does not get questioned on the tools he needs to use so why do we allow our patients to talk us out of the tools we feel necessary? The Patient complains and we don’t like when they complain so we back down and follow their wishes.

Patients typically reject the use of the ultrasonic scaler due to:


>Water pooling in the mouth

>Water spraying the face

>Vibration and sensation

>Pain and sensitivity due to the vibration

>Pain or sensitivity from the water temperature

>And simply unwillingness to try something new to them

     In addition to the typical complaints some patients’ claim it doesn’t do as good of a job as the ‘old way’. This excuse holds no water (pun intended!) since we are still using hand instruments during their treatment so they are getting their ‘normal cleaning’ in addition to a new and improved way.

     To use or not to use. As professional, educated, licensed health clinicians we are choosing the ultrasonic scaler for patients who show signs of inflammation, heavy plaque, moderate/heavy calculus or disease. These patients are not the picture of oral health, therefore they should not be directing their treatment. We hold the degree and the state licensure-that should be what the directs the treatment plan. It is up to us to provide our patients with the education that backs our professional decision.

     Many tests have been performed comparing manual and power scalers which has concluded they are both equally effective in removing subgingival plaque and reducing bacterial counts. They both had similar amounts of remaining calculus deposits post-treatment also.

So does this mean our patients win and we don’t need to use power tools?


There are many benefits to the patients and to the clinician from using power scalers over hand instruments.

*Reduction in treatment time (on average 33% faster)

*Improved ergonomic benefits to the clinician

*Reduction in clinician fatigue and repetitive strain concerns

*Decreased cementum removal

*Improved access to class II and III furcations

     It should be a no-brainer, win-win for all. If the use of the ultrasonic scaler is there for us to provide better overall treatment in less time while maintaining a healthier tooth structure for the patient all while suffering from less strain on ourselves which will prolong our career and ergonomic health than we shall not be talked out of it.

     As licensed professionals, we need to be firm with our patients in directing their treatment and not allow their ‘dislike’ lead us to provide lesser care.


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Chatterjee, A., Baiju, C., Bose, S., Shetty, S., Wilson, R. (2012). Hand Vs. Ultrasonic Instrumentation: A Review. Journal of Dental Sciences & Oral Rehabilitation, Oct-Dec 2012.

Copulos, T. A., Low, S. B., Walker, C. B., Trebilcock, Y. Y., & Hefti, A. F. (1993). Comparative Analysis Between a Modified Ultrasonic Tip and Hand Instruments on Clinical Parameters of Periodontal Disease. Journal of Periodontology, 64(8), 694-700. doi:10.1902/jop.1993.64.8.694

Tomasi, C., Bertelle, A., Dellasega, E., & Wennström, J. L. (2006). Full-mouth ultrasonic debridement and risk of disease recurrence: A 1-year follow-up. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 33(9), 626-631. doi:10.1111/j.1600-051x.2006.00962.x