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Despite having only qualified as a dental hygienist relatively recently, Anna Middleton has quickly developed a loyal customer base across multiple locations in London. In an interview with Dental Tribune International, she spoke of what she aims to teach her patients and how dental professionals can impact the wider community.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and your career so far?
So, I studied at the Eastman Dental Hospital after working as a dental nurse, and graduated in 2015 from the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons. I’m a dedicated and passionate dental hygienist and I started my business, London Hygienist, with the mission to change the way oral health care is delivered to patients.
I’m also a key opinion leader for Philips, an oral health panellist at Compare The Treatment, a brand ambassador for various companies and an ambassador for the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT).
In your view, what is the role of a dental hygienist in the dental practice?
I like to say that 'team work makes the dream work'. I work closely with all the staff at my practices. They will always refer patients to me and explain why routine hygiene appointments are so important and explain the work I do. This is because they can see the results and the impact it has on the dental work they carry out.
This approach supports both the patients and the dentists. The role of the hygienist is becoming more recognised and utilised. Patients are actively seeking our services and dentists are relying on our skills to maintain their work for long-lasting results.
From my own experience, I’ve seen patients come in for ‘just a clean’, but then once I’ve spoken to them and explained why they should see a dentist as well, they go and then all-round great care is provided.
Do you think that the dental hygienist—or, more broadly, the dental professional—should be engaged with the wider community outside of the dental practice?
There is definitely a place for it within the industry and there are plenty of dental professionals involved in various projects and incentives to help spread more awareness and engagement. I personally have travelled to Uganda with Dentaid to deliver dental care to those with little or no access. Earlier this year, some colleagues and myself went to a preschool to deliver an oral health education session for children from 3 to 5 years old as part of the “First Smiles” initiative run by the BSDHT. Many professionals are utilising social media too to promote good oral hygiene in the form of advice or tips.
How do you motivate your patients to take charge of their own oral health?
We live in a world where we often listen to respond, rather than listening to understand. I motivate my patients with my personal style and delivery. I always say that you have to know your audience. I tend to use analogies and, sometimes, humour when treating my patients. I include them in what I am doing during their appointments, for example, I will let them know what I am looking for when I am probing or explain how and why calculus has formed. I truly believe prevention is better than cure, and strive to educate and motivate my patients. The success of this is proven in the growth of my patient base. I am interactive on various social media platforms and promote my work by sharing tips, information, photos and videos.
Thank you very much for the interview.