With Dental Health Week being celebrated this week, The Recorder looks at this vital service from the viewpoint of its unsung heroes – the dental health nurses.
The nurse provides the calming services such as fitting the napkin bib, performing suctioning and handing the ingredients for fillings to the dentist.
This guardian can place a comforting hand on your shoulder at the right time or offer a soothing word.
Felicity Sard has been a dental health nurse in Port Pirie for seven years.
“I love it,” she said, adding that the most satisfaction came from “the care of my patients”.
“Seeing someone come in with a problem and upset and us being able to help them, that is probably the best part.”
The combination of dentist and dental health nurse is known in the trade as “four-handed dentistry”.
“A lot of people come in really nervous before the dentist comes in,” Ms Sard said.
She aims to have a chat with them and calm them before the treatment.
“Sometimes they feel they have questions they can’t ask the dentist so they ask us instead,” she said.
Dental Health Week, she said, meant educating children and their families on the importance of oral health.
“Prevention is better than cure,” she said with a smile.
Dental Health Week, which takes place from August 6 to 12, is the Australian Dental Association’s major yearly oral health promotion event.
It aims to educate people about the importance of maintaining good oral health by promoting these key messages:
• Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
• Clean in between teeth at least once a day with floss or an interdental brush
• Eat a healthy balance diet and limit sugar intake
• Regularly visit the dentist for check-ups and preventive treatment.
This year, these important messages will be reinforced with a little cheeky humour via the tagline “Watch Your Mouth”.
Tempting though it is to think everyone is watching their mouth and practising good oral health, the reality is that many are not fully heeding these messages.
Dentists say good oral health is part of maintaining one’s whole body in top condition.