In my job as a dental hygienist, I meet many patients with ongoing caries disease. I try to talk about, for example, food without blaming and giving patients the right tools to cure karies. But changing people’s habits is difficult.
As a dental hygienist, I often hear patients saying, “No, I do not eat so much candy” or “I’ve always had such bad teeth” and focus on it. But caries are a multifactorial disease and several factors play a part in the occurrence of a car crash. It is not a shortage of disease caused by too little fluoride.
That’s why it’s so exciting with the project “Cure Caries” that I’m currently participating in Health Dentistry. The origin of the project was that we wanted to take a lot of power around the caries for patients and test a new way of working where we work more interdisciplinary. In the project, dental hygienist works with dieticians to change behavior patterns, both in terms of dietary habits and social habits. “Cure caries” puts me extra hot about the heart because it merges oral health with public health.
Patients participating in the project have holes that need to be created or have a history of having their teeth. After following his usual treatment at the dental hygienist and a dentist at the dentist, the patient meets a dietician who is linked to the project. The patient is then randomized into a test group or control group. The control group is on treatment as usual, the test group also meets a dietician. The dietician goes through a dietary diary individually and accompanies the participants to shop for food twice during the project.
We also review all factors that affect the appearance of karies, and above all the factors that the participants themselves can influence. We do this together by introducing all values such as saliva sampling, previous caries experience, diet, oral hygiene and more in a so-called “cariogram”. Cariogram is a program that shows in a highly educational way a pie chart with all factors, as well as showing the patient’s risk of new caries attacks. This has been an important part of the study and an aha experience for many of the participants.
Hopefully, through the “cure caries” or causes of dental caries project, we have increased the knowledge of why karies are formed, but have primarily contributed to the patients in a positive direction. And that’s exactly what I think is most exciting with my role as a dental hygienist – to help and influence patients with regard to oral health. It plays such a big part in the wellbeing of a person. Imagine what important profession we have dental hygienists!