Safety in the Dental Office

This week, Beyond the Bite is featuring not one but TWO speakers for the 2022 Florida Dental Convention (FDC)! There’s a similar thread between the two — both blogs refer to safety, but in different ways. Ms. Keri Higby addresses personal safety, while Dr. Larry Williams discusses safety in a medical emergency.

Make plans to attend FDC2022, “Dentistry & Systemic Health: Mouth, Mind & Body Connection,” June 23-25 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. For more information, or to search by speaker or course, visit floridadentalconvention.com.


S.T.A.R. (Safety Tactics and Awareness Response) in the Dental Office
By Kerry Higby, certified self-defense instructor

In 2012, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office created a Women’s Self-defense Program, now called S.T.A.R. (Safety Tactics and Awareness Response). This program has been tremendously successful in the community, as we try to educate women on how to maximize their personal safety.

We’ve built strong partnerships in the community through this program and have worked with a wide variety of organizations, including Publix, Hospice of the Comforter and Seminole State College, among others.

Our mission is to reduce the opportunity of violent crimes through teaching women how to increase their situational awareness, reducing the risk of becoming a victim and how to avoid confrontations. It’s important to realize that self-defense is 90% mental preparedness and 10% physical. The techniques and knowledge we share with participants gives them a sense of empowerment to help them become their own best defense.

It’s important for everyone, especially those professionals who have close contact with the public to remember these three concepts:

  1. Create a plan of action.
  2. Remove the risks of becoming a victim/target.
  3. Increase your situational awareness

Practicing and thinking about “what if” situations allow workers to have a plan in case they need to defend themselves. It is similar to the Run, Fight, Hide concept that is used with armed attackers and mass shootings. Designing your environment for optimal safety and security, when possible, helps to significantly lower the risk of becoming a victim or target. This can be done through crime prevention through environmental design. Securing/limiting office access, cameras and lighting are all examples that can help create safer business settings. Overall, the most significant defense one has is to increase their situational awareness skills everywhere.

Two self-defense techniques you can use to help in a situation is your voice by yelling. Attackers don’t want attention. By using your voice, you not only draw attention and may get potential help from bystanders, but you stay breathing instead of freezing or panicking. Another basic technique is to maintain your distance, if possible, from a potential attacker. Quickly scan the area that you find yourself in and be ready to run/escape.

Remember, if you think about what you would do in a dangerous situation, you will be more likely to react and survive, instead of being caught off-guard and panicking.

Ms. Higby is an FDC2022 speaker and will be presenting, “S.T.A.R. Women’s Self-defense Deep Dive” on Thursday, June 23 at 9 a.m.


Stop the Bleed: Safety in the Dental Office
By Dr. Larry Williams

Imagine coming out of your favorite downtown store and the security guard at the door is looking up. You notice other people around the entrance looking up. You look up and realize that a crane across the street has become unstable and is likely to fall. Before you and others can move to safety, the crane falls and sends debris everywhere. A piece strikes the security guard in the leg, and he immediately falls to the ground bleeding severely. The crash is over but everyone, except you and the guard, flees to safety and you are left standing and staring at the fast-expanding pool of blood next to the security guard.

What are your options?

  • Run away to safety like everyone else.
  • Call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
  • Call 911, realize you are the help until help arrives, make sure it is safe, and then work to stop/slow the bleeding.

Blood delivers oxygen to the organs, and a sudden significant loss of blood can lead to shock and eventually death. Experts agree that severe bleeding can lead to death in as little as 5 minutes. You need to figure out how to keep the blood in the body.

Techniques can include using pressure at the site of bleeding, pack the wound and apply pressure, using a tourniquet on the heart-side of the wound, and arterial pressure if possible. The “Stop the Bleed” course was created to address the above scenario, and to date, more than 1.5 million people have been trained to address bleeding. Do you want to learn more? Take my course at FDC2022, where I’ll be speaking on this topic and more!

Dr. Williams is an FDC2022 speaker and will be presenting several courses. “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives Deep Dive: Hands-on First Aid and STOP THE BLEED® Training” will be on Thursday, Jun. 23 at 9 a.m., and later that day, “Pharmacology and Your Dental Patient: An Update!” will be at 2 p.m. On Friday, June 24, “Geriatric Dentistry: Treatment Planning, Treatment Concerns and Communications” will be at 9 a.m. and “Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis — What do you know?” will be at 2 p.m. 

The Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dentistry  

By Rick Williamson, CPT, Body Praxis, LLC

More than 80% of dental professionals suffer from pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders caused by the demands of their profession. Years of hunching over patients, reaching and stretching in awkward positions, fighting with equipment, and coping with the physical redundancy of the occupation leaves the professional with daily pain and chronic discomfort. Dentists commonly suffer from tingling and numbness in fingers and hands, and deal with shoulder, back, neck and hip pain.

These regularly occurring conditions, if ignored, can cause cumulative physiological damage that may lead to a career-ending injury. Like a professional athlete, the dental professional needs to understand how rigorous physical strains and repetitive movements lead to muscle imbalances, postural dysfunction and compensatory movement patterns. Overused muscles fatigue while underused muscles fail to properly support the spine and extremities. Fortunately, the pain and discomfort of dentistry is avoidable. Like an athlete, the dental professional needs to physically train to prevent and reduce pain. Unfortunately, if muscle imbalances and compensatory movement patterns already exist, general exercises can be detrimental. They tend to only reinforce faulty movements and imbalances. Without focused and specific movement reeducation, the strong and overused muscles and systems will be further strengthened while the neglected musculature will remain weak.

Biomechanical reeducation must be introduced and consider the occupational, recreational and daily activities. Oppositional movement patterns must be created to counteract imbalances and common repetitive positions. The importance of muscle recruitment, balance, spine segmental mobility, stabilization, and breathing techniques need to be properly learned to restore function and alleviate pain. We advocate the introduction of these specific programs as early as dental school. A strong emphasis on a daily commitment to the program will provide career sustainability and contribute to overall wellness.

“The dental professional needs to learn to break out of the habitual posture any time they are not engaged with the patient.”

One specific concept that is valuable to many dental professionals is the concept of engage-disengage. This is a concept that anyone can easily incorporate into the workday. Often, procedural work places the dental professional into a postural position of forward flexion and rotation of the spine and hips in one direction. This creates imbalances that the engage-disengage technique can address. The dental professional needs to learn to break out of the habitual posture any time they are not engaged with the patient. They need to learn to come into a neutral postural position to retrain the body to know where proper alignment is. They learn to incorporate it throughout the day and even outside of the office in other activities, reducing the cumulative trauma of repetitive faulty positions.

Another common problem is hip and pelvic pain. Sitting in the dental stool forces the pelvic bones into a rotation, which is held for long periods of time. Over time, the cumulative effect can lead to a fixed rotation of the pelvis, causing misalignment and pain.

A common movement or exercise used to reeducate pelvic alignment is pelvic rolls on a stability ball. While seated on a stability ball, movement is initiated by the coccyx (tail bone) as the pelvis is rolled forward and back. This creates a nutation and counternutation of the pelvis, which reeducates and realigns the pelvis to eliminate pain.

These techniques are demonstrated and further explored in my “Body Praxis” seminar at the 2022 Florida Dental Convention (FDC).


Mr. Williamson is the creator of the Body Praxis System and can be reached at bodypraxis@aol.com. He will be presenting his course, Body Praxis: Physical Rehabilitation for Dental Professionals  — “The Prevention and Reversal of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dentistry,” on Saturday, June 25 at 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and again at 2-5 p.m.

View all FDC2022 speaker and course offerings today. Registration opens in March 2022.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, Jan/Feb 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

Total Health Dentistry: What’s it All About?

By Dr. Susan Maples

What a strange and turbulent time to be in dental practice and leadership. All eyes are on us as to how we navigate for ourselves and our at-risk patients through this systemic disease threat. By now you know that dentists and hygienists are at the very top of the list of occupationally hazardous professions for COVID-19. This leaves many of us feeling anxious and wanting to help.

This is a unique time — when every person asks themselves if they would be at risk of death or disability with an inadvertent COVID-19 exposure. We know that that the most at-risk segment of our population is those who are afflicted with airway disorders, obesity, insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes) and metabolic syndrome. If you live a typical American lifestyle, these risks more than likely include YOU. But what does any of this have to do with the mouth? Everything!

“The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you ‘see’ them, it makes it impossible to ‘unsee’ them.”

It wasn’t too long ago that dentists thought the mouth was its own private domain, that not much of what went on in there was linked to the rest of the body — and vice versa. Today, we understand that the most prevalent life-altering and life-threatening conditions we encounter have early telltale signs in the mouth. If you haven’t yet explored these, hang on to your seat — the evidence is staggering.

Only a short time ago, dentists and hygienists didn’t know (for examples) that:

  • Most sleep and airway disorders can be prevented by addressing structural/development concerns in newborns, babies and toddlers.
  • Tooth decay is a preventable bacterial infection passed to babies from their caregivers’ saliva.
  • Periodontal disease is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, dementia and erectile dysfunction.
  • Diabetes has a bidirectional relationship with periodontal disease, each making the other worse.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection from oral sex would replace smoking as the single biggest risk factor for oral pharyngeal cancer.

And this list goes on and on!

Our patients’ weakened host-immune response is mostly a result of the most common ailments in our culture: oxygen/sleep deprivation; a defective, sugared-up food supply; and, a sedentary lifestyle. When a patient visits you for his or her three- or six-month preventive appointment, they bring you all the evidence. The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you “see” them, it makes it impossible to “unsee” them.

It’s time to embrace a personalized model for dental care, focused on far more than your teeth, gums, joints and muscles. By learning to identify the countless links and causes between systemic health and oral health, your entire dental team will soon play critical roles in helping each one of your patients (from age 1-100) live a healthier, happier and sexier life!

In today’s health care environment, which is focused on using a host of medications to put out small fires, helping your patients identify the root cause of their diseases becomes a rare GIFT. From there, helping individualize a wellness track does several things for your practice:

  • With your total health reputation, you will attract patients who value their health from a wide sweep around your practice location.
  • By earning trust, you’ll also earn the right to perform some significant restorative dentistry.
  • By collaborating with other health professionals, you’ll build a remarkable network of co-referral relationships and enhance the quality of your patient base.
  • By focusing on integrative health, you’ll add value to the hygienists’ role and enhanced hygiene profitability through adjunctive testing.
  • Through developing this sought-after niche, you’ll get the golden keys to insurance independence, if that is something you seek.

If you thought enhancing a smile was exciting, try giving someone a new lease on a vital life, while you restore their mouth to optimal health as well. It won’t take long before it becomes your new passion. Total health dentistry is more than a compelling morale builder — it’s a way of life.


Dr. Maples is the founder of Total Health Academy and developer of Hands-on Learning Lab and can be reached at susan@drsusanmaples.com. She is a speaker at the 2021 Florida Dental Convention and will be presenting three courses. On Friday, June 25, “Seeing in the Mouth with Super Powered Eyes: Total Health Dentistry” is at 2 p.m. On Saturday, June 26, “Slaying Dragons: Acid Reflux and Diabetes Detection” is at 9 a.m. and “Creating Powerful Co-referral Relationships with Medical Professionals: Becoming a Practice of Distinction” is at 2 p.m. Register at floridadentalconvention.com.

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, May/June 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view the Today’s FDA archives.

#FDCYouSoon

By Dr. Becky Warnken, FDC2021 Program Chair

We will have gone 727 days without a Florida Dental Convention (FDC) when we arrive for FDC2021. One year, 11 months and 27 long days missing our colleagues, completing our continuing education (CE) remotely, and working diligently in our offices to provide care during an unprecedented time. Needless to say, I cannot wait to #FDCYouSoon!

Your entire Committee on Conventions and Continuing Education has worked without pause during this time to continue to offer you the dynamite CE and family fun you have come to know and love. We are bursting with excitement to welcome you back to the Gaylord — safely!

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about FDC2021.

When is FDC2021? When can I register?

The FDC2021 is June 24-26 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. Registration is OPEN! Early Bird Registration closes on April 16 and regular registration ends June 11. Register online at floridadentalconvention.com. On-site registration will apply June 12-26. Register yourself and your team early for the best savings and a chance at a space in any of the courses. As a reminder, FDA members receive free pre-registration!

What courses are available for doctors?

We know you are excited to get back to some in-person and hands-on CE! This year’s program is jam packed with exciting courses and hands-on workshops and mini-residencies. The list is endless, however there is sure to be a plethora of options for everyone. The Dawson Academy will be teaching the first in-person “Dawson Seminar 2” on Thursday and Friday. Be sure to check out the “Head and Neck Cancer Symposium,” which will offer incredible insights into diagnosing, treating, and supporting patients with head and neck cancers throughout their treatment and survivorship. There are countless hands-on workshops featuring everything from full-arch reconstruction, mastering the single central with CEREC, oral surgery techniques, posterior composites, Botox, tongue and lip tie treatment, and so much more. This program also features two separate mini-residencies, “You Need Sleep and So Does Your Dental Practice” and “Dental Implant Therapy.” There are too many dynamite speakers to list, so I encourage you to check out the entire program! This year’s registration site has some fantastic upgrades that allow you to search by topic, audience, day and more, as well as suggested courses for those you pick to help you build three solid days of CE. Be sure to check out the expanded Saturday options as well — they will not disappoint! Visit floridadentalconvention.com for information.

Should I bring my dental team?

We know that everyone on the dental team is ready for some in-person, hands-on CE action and I am confident that the entire team will find courses that they can be excited about. There are quality, free keynotes to begin your days together. Be sure to check out all three days of programming, as there are courses for the team Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon. Whether you are looking for coding courses for your administrative team, treatment planning and presentation for your entire team, implant parts, temporaries and even impressions for your assistants, or anesthesia and non-surgical debridement techniques for your hygienists — the opportunities for quality CE for your team members are plentiful! There is a killer lineup of speakers for your team to choose from and I can’t wait for them to enjoy the wide range of CE that will be available. They are sure to enjoy the social events as well.

Early Bird registration ends on Friday, April 16! Register yourself and your team early for the best savings and a chance at a space in any of the courses.

What is there for my family to do?

This year we have added new programming for all attendees, including “Yoga on the Lawn” each morning. Guests also are invited to “Dueling Pianos” on Thursday and our “Wonderland Party” on Friday night. The Gaylord has amazing facilities to keep everyone entertained as well — be sure to check out the pool and new rapid river! This amazing venue continues to expand and welcome families for a much-needed getaway that everyone can enjoy. Beyond the Gaylord, be sure to check out the discounted tickets for Walt Disney World theme parks. Orlando has so much to offer, and everyone deserves a little getaway this year!

I personally cannot wait to #FDCYouSoon!

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, March/April 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.