Make every contact count – Miranda Steeples at BDIA Dental Showcase 2024
Engaging patients in their oral and general health is an essential part of the oral healthcare team’s role today. Tackling the big issues during dental appointments may seem daunting, but professionals can have a significant impact on their patients’ wellbeing.
Miranda Steeples, President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), will be exploring this topic in more detail from within the Oral Health Theatre on Friday 22nd March. Offering a taster of what she hopes to cover, Miranda says:
“My presentation is about MECC, ‘Making Every Contact Count’. This is a Public Health England initiative and the core messages are to encourage patients to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, improve their diet, increase their exercise, and try to lose weight. These are all common risk factors that will impair an individual’s oral and general health.
“I will discuss how to weave this into a typical appointment, largely from my personal perspective as a dental hygienist, but it is easily transferable to a general oral health review, or an oral hygiene session with a dental nurse. We can consider aspects of the medical history that might affect oral health, encourage better general health behaviours, and bring these together to improve the patient’s oral health. Not only will this support their systemic health, but it will also bring us back around to oral health, and link it all together.”
Clearly, this is a mission that all members of the oral healthcare team can be actively involved with. This integrated approach to care will be important for dental teams to overcome some of the challenges they may face in practice. Miranda continues:
“I would say the main issue is time – more specifically, a lack of time – or at least the perception that this is a barrier. There is always a certain set of tasks that must be undertaken within an appointment. While the focus in oral health care is prevention, patients also have an expectation that you will do something for them as well; they expect less talking and more doing, and may even challenge if what you’re asking is any of your business. But it really is. For dental hygienists and dental therapists, we spend our days talking about prevention, so it comes quite easily to us.”
If communication is the bedrock of the dental hygienist/therapist’s role, it’s essential that professionals have the skills and confidence to manage such aspects of an appointment effectively. Miranda offers some advice:
“It’s important to be confident talking about these things. Get your patter ready and well-rehearsed so it comes out naturally when in front of patients. Decide on one thing you will address at each appointment. You won’t get everything done all in one go, because there won’t be enough time and the patient may feel overwhelmed with information. It has to be taken at the patient’s pace, offering guidance when they’re ready to engage. Utilise your team, too. Refer to others in your practice who can take on this work, or who may enjoy it and be better at it. You might also consider providing leaflets for patients to take home or producing videos to play in the waiting room to reinforce your key messages.”
In addition to Miranda’s session, the Oral Health Theatre will present a number of opportunities to learn and interact with prominent speakers presenting on an array of topics. Well-known for its trade exhibition – BDIA Dental Showcase remains the largest and longest running dental exhibition in the UK – this will also be a chance to get up to date with product launches. There will be a spectrum of organisations, including dental manufacturers and suppliers, training providers, regulators and professional societies and associations. Miranda concludes with her own thoughts about the event and comments on what dental professionals can expect from the BSDHT:
“I’ve always really enjoyed BDIA Dental Showcase and found it to be very worthwhile. As one of the first shows in the year, it’s a great opportunity to get some CPD and to visit the trade stands to see what the new year launches have been.
“The BSDHT team is promoting our Oral Health Conference 2024, which will be held in Harrogate on 22 and 23 November 2024. The Society is also celebrating the 75-year anniversary since our inception as the British Dental Hygienists’ Association in 1949, so we have much planned to mark this important milestone.
“If any members would like information on our Coaching and Mentoring programme or wish to volunteer on the team, or anyone needs details of our upcoming Regional Group Spring Study Days, we would love to meet you, too. Plus, the editorial team that produce our super journals will be on hand to discuss a special birthday edition of the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, which will be created in collaboration with our Annual Clinical Journal. Please don’t be shy, we’d love to meet you!”
If you haven’t already, register for free on the website today and secure your place for BDIA Dental Showcase 2024!