What is the most rewarding aspect of your dental specialty?
I get to combine my two areas of interest (dental hygiene and nutrition) to educate students and practitioners.
What digital or online tools do you use in the classroom or clinical setting?
I use Blackboard in the classroom.
How often do you assign students material that requires online research?
My students are given several projects that require online research.
What advice can you give current dental students nearing graduation who are interested in your specialty?
As the Surgeon General stated in May of 2000 in his landmark report “The mouth is the window to all diseases of the body”. It is crucial that dental practitioners gain knowledge and expertise in treating the whole patient and not just the mouth.
Does this generation of students present any unique challenges to educators?
The current generation of students are very hands-on and technologically savvy. It is important to keep them stimulated and address these learning styles in both the clinic and classroom settings.
What do you find to be the most difficult dental concept to teach?
The application of nutrition in the dental setting is often times a difficult concept to teach. The etiology of caries involves this application because host factors, bacteria, saliva and diet are the four crucial components. Oftentimes students make this application more difficult than it has to be. Diet (forms of foods, frequency of consumption and timing of foods/beverages) should be addressed and discussed with each of our patients who are at risk or present evidence of dental decay.
What digital adjunct materials do you find most useful for students, and for what lessons do you use them?
In our dental hygiene clinic, the only digital adjunct materials we use are digital x-rays. I think a digital camera is an incredible teaching tool for both patient and student. It allows the student to educate on their findings in the mouth while the patient gets a visual image of what is being discussed.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I have a passion for prevention! As both a registered dietitian and a registered dental hygienist, my goal is to educate and encourage the practical application of diet and nutrition in the dental setting. I also strive to foster interprofessional collaboration between dietetics practitioners and oral health care professionals. My enthusiasm for educating patients, students and practitioners about the oral health-nutrition link is what drives me professionally to make strides in this area.
What do you wish you had known about the dental industry as a whole when you were a student?
I wish I had known more about public health professional opportunities for the dental professional.