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“The most rewarding thing about my job is changing a patient’s perception of coming to the dentist and them leaving happy” – World Oral Health Day, Emma’s story

World Oral Health Day falls on the 20 March, and this year, the World Dental Federation wants to inspire change by focusing on the importance of oral health for our overall health, and the impact good and bad oral hygiene can have on our lives.

Emma Robinson is a dental therapist from our Solent Special Care Dental Service in Portsmouth. Emma has shared her story, along with top tips and advice to help raise awareness of good oral hygiene.  

“I have been working as a dental therapist for nine years. Previous to that I was a specialist dental nurse working in a maxillofacial department.  My mum is a dental nurse so dentistry has always been a part of my childhood and I have always been educated about the importance of looking after your teeth from a young age! I have always enjoyed science and am quite artistic so dentistry allows me to combine both of these skills. 

“I really enjoy what I do. The most rewarding thing about my role is changing a patient’s perception of coming to the dentist and them leaving happy, having had a positive experience. I treat many dental phobics -children and patients with medical and special needs - which is very challenging at times, but it provides the best feeling when you have managed to make a real difference to a patient. It is really satisfying to help someone who has been in pain or to improve their smile and give them newfound confidence!

“This past year has been a really challenging time, but the pandemic has had its positives. Some of our working practices have changed for the better, for example using video calling to triage patients remotely prior to their appointments has made our use of time more efficient and productive.

“I am incredibly lucky to work within such a supportive team and I believe that this has only brought us all closer together!

“Oral health is so important. It can have an effect on many other parts of the body- not just the mouth, which a lot of people may not know.  Aside from just having a nice smile, teeth help us to chew our food and play an important role in speech.  Poor oral health can lead to malnutrition, infection, pain and can contribute to poor mental health. It can also have a direct impact on other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, so it’s vital that we take the right steps to keep our mouths healthy."

Emma’s top tips for a healthy mouth!

1-            Brush your teeth and gums twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Spit out the toothpaste but don’t rinse it off as you are rinsing away all the fluoride!

2-            Clean between your teeth once per day with either floss or interdental brushes to remove plaque and food. Bleeding from the gums can be a sign of gum disease. Many people think that when they see blood it is a sign of brushing too hard so stop brushing. This in fact is the worst thing to do!  Do not be afraid to keep brushing as after a few days the bleeding should subside as the gum health improves.

3-            Watch out for sugars and acid in the diet! It’s all about frequency rather than quantity so if you fancy a treat try to have it with a mealtime not in between your meals so that your mouth has the chance to recover from the acid and sugar attack. Chewing sugar-free gum and food like cheese are all good for neutralising acid after eating.

4-            Get a check-up at the dentist regularly - not just when you are in pain. We don’t just check teeth, we check the entire mouth, head and neck for any changes and signs of illness such as oral cancer.

5-            Stop smoking! We can help signpost you to get help when you are ready.  Smoking leads to periodontal disease, tooth loss, oral cancer and is harmful to the rest of the body too.  Smoking masks the signs of gum disease such as bleeding gums.

For more information about World Oral Health Day visit - https://www.worldoralhealthday.org/ #MouthProud

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pals@solent.nhs.uk

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