Dr. Heff’s Health Hero Project
This week our Dr. Heff's spotlight shines on Dental Hygienist Health Hero superstar Gemma Morgan.
Since 2010, Gemma has worked as a hygienist in the London practice The Dental Surgery. She began her career in dentistry whilst serving 3 years in the Royal Air Force before qualifying as a Dental Hygienist at Liverpool University Dental Hospital in June 2006. A true Dr. Heff's health hero for her country and her patients!
I really enjoyed reading about Gemma's experience, and a personal takeaway is that pregnancy gingivitis is linked to low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, and premature birth. Gemma's answers are insightful and informative. Thank you for your time Gemma and for teaching me something new! Your time and commitment to the health community are appreciated. Also, it's obvious how much you love your work and your patients, so it's a real pleasure to feature you.
We understand there are different standards of care within the Covid protocol, and it would be great to learn about your particular method. So, how have you been coping with Covid?
It is so important to me that patients feel 100% safe and comfortable. Timekeeping is essential. For patients requiring aerosol, this must be completed in the first half of the appointment to allow for appropriate fallow time. I like to plan and prepare, so the day runs as smoothly as possible! I returned to work after a short maternity leave in August 2020, and of course, so much had changed both practically and personally. The practical side was mainly using more PPE, implementing fallow times, patient screening, extra note-taking, and door handle wiping!
All these things are just second nature now, but the personal side to it all is still a little hard. I have worked at The Dental Surgery for nearly 12 years now. I have many patients that are very dear to me, so seeing them, along with meeting new patients, has been very different. Some patients have sadly lost loved ones, and many have not seen their families; some have been very isolated and lonely during this pandemic. For many patients, I was the first human they had seen up close out of their household, especially after the first lockdown. It is hard not to give a friendly smile or even a hug to those who need it, but it will not be forever. The power of conversation is more important than ever now.
We appreciate the benefits of guided biofilm therapy - can you explain your favorite long-term change from this process?
Guided biofilm therapy is so well-tolerated and loved by patients, which means they are more likely to attend regular appointments and maintain their oral health. Personally, for me, it's extremely enjoyable to use and so thorough. The great bonus is it can be used everywhere in the mouth. I love watching the plaque and stain just wash away. It’s so quick to use. It frees up more time for calculus removal and leaves adequate time for the most important thing, the oral hygiene instruction.
Do you think long-term use of agents such as chlorhexidine harms the oral microbiome?
Yes. Frequent and long-term use of chlorhexidine does affect the oral microbiome along with causing stain, calculus build-up, and altered taste. Short-term use is sometimes indicated, but that should only be the case when a dental or medical professional advises.
Do you think that the oral bacteria can travel through the placenta of a pregnant mother? What do you think the implications of this would be?
Yes. Women trying to conceive should visit their dentist and hygienist to make sure their mouths are healthy, ideally before getting pregnant. Pregnancy hormones, along with subpar oral hygiene (such as not flossing), could develop pregnancy gingivitis, and any existing gum disease could become a lot worse. Often, I hear of pregnant women avoiding their gums because they are bleeding so much, which is the worst thing. If you are experiencing bleeding, swollen, or sore gums, see a dental hygienist for treatment and advice. This will help reduce the risk of pregnancy gingivitis which, as well as being quite unpleasant, is also linked with low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, and premature birth.
Lastly, a cheeky final question - do you recommend Dr. Heff’s?!
Yes! These are now my go-to recommendation for Mints. Not only to freshen breath but to reduce enamel wear and caries risk. I also love that I can recycle the packet!
Thank you for being our Dr. Heff's Health Hero Gemma!
All the best,
Find Gemma on Instagram @love_your_gums
The Dental Surgery is in the heart of London and can be found at The Corn Exchange, 55 Mark Lane, London EC3R 7NE - 0207 680 1800.
You can order Dr. Heff's Remarkable Mints here and receive 10% off subscriptions!