Success isn’t Pulling Teeth for Dental Hygienists

Teal Mercer of Brookfield, dental hygiene program director at the University of New Haven, believes it’s essential for all dental hygienists to learn about the culture of the people they treat.

That’s why, whenever she travels with her dental hygiene students to other countries and other parts of the United States, she requires them to become familiar with those areas’ healthcare, education system and economy.

In addition, students visit well-known sightseeing destinations, learn the kinds of foods that are commonly eaten, and learn the basics of the language spoken there.

By learning about their patients’ lifestyles, hygienists can get a better understanding of what kind of people they are, Mercer explained.

“When treating people, especially in healthcare, it’s important to be sensitive to different beliefs and customs. ... Not everyone has had the advantages of routine healthcare. We have often been the first oral health provider many of these people have ever encountered,” Mercer said.

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