Dental Impact sets its 2014 sights on helping hygienists to help their communities

Aug. 12, 2013
Noel Kelsch, RDHAP, talks about the growth of the Dental Impact seminar, which is hosted at the RDH Under One Roof conference.

by Noel Brandon Kelsch, RDHAP

Five years ago, I received many phone calls from caring dental hygienists who wanted to know how to start a volunteer program in their communities. The questions ranged from “how do I write a grant?” to “what is in my scope of practice?” These caring people wanted to make a difference and just needed an example. Their requests for information led to the “Dental Impact” seminar at RDH Under One Roof (UOR).

I never imagined the impact one course could have. What is Dental Impact? Dental Impact is an all-day course at UOR that opens doors to serving, volunteering, and developing new programs (and even careers) for hygienists.

Nancy Brohawn stated it best: “It has evolved from a service program to a program that helps hygienists see beyond the chair to the community with their career.”

Letty Reyes shared, “This course is not limited thinking. The ideas that are shared in the course are all placed on a jump drive for you to take home and present to the community or use in your job, and make a difference in lives.”


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Dental Impact’s first year reached out to the community with a public health program that went into the Boys and Girls Club to work with staff and children from ages two to 18. In other years, Dental Impact reached out to a mental health treatment facility to work with staff and clients and a state health department to educate the educators. We also have met the needs of special needs clients by “Walking a Mile” in their shoes and seeing firsthand the experience of clients who traveled to UOR to share their stories of dealing with HIV and cerebral palsy.

Last year, we were enlightened on serving clients who are impacted by mental health diseases. We learned how to develop resources, programs, treatment plans, and preventive measures for clients who experience the challenges of these diseases. Marhya Kelsch, LCSW, enlightened us all on the scope and symptoms of the mental health diseases and her experiences in getting them oral treatment while dealing with their diseases. Our keynote speaker, Joe Taylor, dazzled the audience with his life experience as a TV reporter and a patient dealing with schizophrenia. Each of these courses included integrated medicine and speakers that specialized in the field.

In 2013, we learned about the challenges geriatric patients face in the dental environment and explored alternatives for care.

All of these programs have been so successful in starting hygienists on new roads to caring. The packaging of information has allowed them to jump-start their future with everything from grant writing to accommodations being shared by a group of seasoned professionals.

This year in Las Vegas, the speakers were Jeremy Lovell from Nevada State Department of Elder Care who addressed abuse issues and Angie Stone, RDH, who shared details about her project for senior senior citizens. The committee members who created the program included Nancy Brohawn, Letty Reyes, Sandra Berger, Sandra Boucher-Bessent, Rafael Rondon, Diana Corbin, Lisa Stillman, Jodi Heimbach, Susan Clark, and Brenda Kibbler.

I hope you will join us during RDH Under One Roof in 2014: “Taking it to the Streets!” This will be the fifth anniversary of Dental Impact! Chicago is ready for us to make a difference!

We will kick off with a live webinar a month before UOR. This web meeting will cover everything from grant writing to reach out to underserved populations with intergraded medicine. At UOR, we will be “taking it to the streets” to demonstrate integrated medicine by reaching out to the community with hands-on training of health-care providers. The boarders are opening and this program is helping to make people aware of the value and scope of the practice of hygiene. While we are there, we are creating solutions.

None of this could happen if were not for the dedicated sponsors who believe in our program. A very special thanks go to Medicom, Dux Dental, and Spry for believing in our program, sponsoring our courses, and believing that the future of hygiene can be beyond the chair. A special thanks also go to all of the companies that have given supplies for our hands on portion of the course and to help get hygienists started with their own programs!

Noel Brandon Kelsch, RDHAP, is a syndicated columnist, writer, speaker, and cartoonist. She serves on the editorial review committee for the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention newsletter and has received many national awards. Kelsch owns her dental hygiene practice that focuses on access to care for all and helps facilitate the Simi Valley Free Dental Clinic. She has devoted much of her 35 years in dentistry to educating people about the devastating effects of methamphetamines and drug use. She is a past president of the California Dental Hygienists’ Association.