Validate your knowledge: Why committing to research means committing to better dental hygiene practice

June 24, 2014
With a focus on hygiene in our articles this month, we have an introduction from Michele Carr, RDH, MA, associate professor at The Ohio State University. Michele shares her views on the necessity of research in dental hygiene and why we can only be as good as the research that supports our practice.

Editor's Note: This month, fellow educator Michele Carr RDH, MA will introduce the theme of the June newsletter, which is research. She succinctly discusses the need for hygienists to become involved in research, and all articles this month were written by students in dental hygiene programs (they have been shortened significantly to fit the parameters of our newsletter). With the guidance of faculty, the submissions by these students were exemplary. I congratulate them and thank them for allowing us to publish their work here in RDH Graduate. —Diana Macri

The most significant foundations of graduate dental hygiene education are the goals to prepare advanced-level dental hygienists to develop and validate the dental hygiene body of knowledge, fulfill social preventive dental needs and demands, and develop experts who have the skills to advance the science and practice of dental hygiene. The Ohio State University has begun a master’s degree program in dental hygiene this year and our pioneer class has started developing their scholarly focus. As part of their coursework, they wrote position papers discussing the paramount role research plays in dental hygiene. These papers were written at an interesting time in dental hygiene research as dental hygiene celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

Denise Bowen’s historical review of dental hygiene research, which was published in the 100th anniversary commemorative issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene, focused on the need to advance dental hygiene by advancing our research abilities. As a profession, we can only be as good as the research that supports our practice. As educators, we should be graduating our entry-level students who understand the need to continue advancing in their knowledge of dental hygiene science and practice. As dental hygienists, we should be motivating ourselves and our colleagues to advance our education. Hopefully, these thoughts and perspectives from our students will help motivate others to do just that, while advancing our profession, one dental hygienist at a time. Ultimately, this advancement will provide the best dental hygiene practice, based upon sound scientific principles to society.

Michele Carr RDH, MA, is an associate professor and chair of the Division of Dental Hygiene at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Dentistry, where she teaches courses in research and current concepts. She is a member of Sigma Phi Alpha, the national dental hygiene honor society, and the 1998 recipient of the American Dental Education Association Warner-Lambert Clinical Research Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected].