The Health Hero Project
Dr. Heff's Health Hero Project interview with Dental Hygienist Amber Ojak, Best Dental Therapist North Winner 2020.
Amber, our health hero, is a dental hygienist in Edinburgh, Scotland. She founded the EME Oral Health Module and is an elected council member and ambassador of the BSDHT.
Amber, thank you so much for the time and thought you put into answering our questions. You truly are a superstar and deserve a spotlight!
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?
Covid has been an obstacle that I think we have overcome very well in terms of treating our patients. We have the extra PPE, air ventilation systems, and fallow times to ensure our patient safety and ours. The extra PPE was definitely difficult to get used to at first, especially now the weather's warming up, but overall, I think the dental profession has done very well.
Please, take me through a patient’s journey that has moved you and explain your part in it.
I treat a lot of dentally anxious patients, and I love seeing their journey with their own oral health. I make sure every patient knows they are in control of what happens at every appointment or how much or little we do. Sometimes at the first appointments, they just want to chat about what concerns them, and we work out ways to make the treatment more comfortable for them and how we can address their oral health needs successfully.
Should hygienists have dental nurses? And, are you working with a dental assistant, how has that changed your system?
Ideally, dental hygienists should be supported, but multiple things may sometimes mean a hygienist does not have a nurse. I do work with a dental nurse, and I appreciate it so very much. It helps my workflow to be easier and allows me to have a second person in the room too.
And, is there anything you would alter or add to the training pathway?
I would love to implement my own oral health module called EME. I think we could benefit from extra education on behavior change methods in practice and how to use these.
Where do you see the future of dental hygiene therapy?
I think we have a big part to play in reshaping dental pathways. Dental therapists could really help reduce the waiting lists for NHS treatment as we can treat patients with our full scope of practice. I think more education on utilizing our skills is needed as we could really be the answer, especially with the waitlists due to Covid.
Lastly, a cheeky final question - do you recommend Dr. Heff’s?!
Yes, I absolutely recommend Dr.Heff’s!
Thanks, Amber, that was really interesting, and we totally agree that the utilization of dental therapy skills is an absolute key to the future of dentistry. Especially for nervous patients and those who would benefit from a preventative and holistic treatment plan, which is everyone! This week I wrote Dr. Heff's Oral Health Blog Why MI Dentistry Eases Dental Phobia, which really dovetails with many of your EME ideas and practices. It was great to meet you and to hear your opinions. Because if Covid has taught the dental community anything, it's that we all need to look out for one another. So, with that in mind, we wish you all the best in your practice, and let us know if we can ever be of any help.
We hope this finds you well.