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Kathy M Dental Professional

The Whole Tooth: Kathy M. shares best practices

In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, we spoke with hygienist Kathy M. of the Livonia Dental Group in Livonia, Michigan. For 23 years, Kathy M. has been working with patients, and as she says, "every moment with a patient is a teaching moment."

See what Kathy had to say about meaningful connections in the chair...

What led you to become a dental hygienist?

Kathy: When I was looking for a change in my professional life after over a decade in the long-term care industry, I knew I wanted to continue in health care and help people. I wasn’t sure in what capacity until a dentist friend of mine said, "You would make a great dental hygienist, you have the best personality and patients will love you!" Who wouldn't want a job like that?

What tips do you have for getting patients to follow your oral care directions?

Kathy: Make it personal (and scary, if necessary). The more you make oral care problems relatable to them or someone in their family, the more they can visualize the problem and address it. I remind my patients that we all fall off of the wagon once in a while, but the important thing is that they never stop trying to improve their oral health, even if it involves baby steps.

How do you approach a patient who doesn’t follow your advice?

Kathy: Be patient. We didn’t learn all about dental hygiene in a 45-minute to 1-hour visit. We know that forming a habit takes time, and when it happens, the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming, not only for you, but more importantly, the patient!

How do you get to know your patients better?

Kathy: I’ve been teased many times about the “book” that I write about my patients, but I like to have such valuable information that connects the mouth to the human behind it. I’ve laughed and cried with so many and it is nice to be more than a "tooth cleaner" to them.

What’s your go-to Orbit sugarfree gum flavor?

Kathy: Peppermint is my fav!

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