Noel Brandon-Kelsch is an international speaker, writer, Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice and Director of Cabrillo College Dental Hygiene Program. She is passionate about oral health and has the uncanny ability to motivate and enlighten audiences through her unique humor and cutting edge information. She takes the tough subject matter and presents it in such an interesting way that it becomes thought-provoking even to those not involved in her industry.
Noel is an infection control guru and is going to bring us tips that can make use more informed clinicians!
Check out her webpage noelkelsch.com
Thank you to Medicom for sponsoring Noel’s TIPisode. Visit Medicom.com/en to learn more about their products!
This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: Quick and easy tips to keep you up to date, and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Noel Kelsch: Hey, this is Noel Kelsch broadcasting to you from beautiful downtown Santa Cruz. Well, today was one of those really fun days. I got to go to schools and set up some dental programs where my students will be coming in to meet the needs of a community that is underserved.
It was interesting as I went into the schools because we’ve got some great people out there that really care about students who want to get help as far as oral health. Went into one classroom and the teacher was doing a wonderful job with “You brush your teeth ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch ch. You brush your teeth ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch ch.” I love that song, and I love what it does for students. It gets them moving, and it gets them thinking about brushing their teeth.
The only problem is she didn’t really understand about the contagious nature of dental diseases, and she had all the student’s toothbrushes being stored in the same area. Literally, they could be wicking from one toothbrush to the next. So I am setting up a time to go in and share with the nurse and with the staff what we need to do to make sure that we can understand, first of all, what dental caries are, that there’s a contagious factor, which has to do with bacteria. And the most common chronic childhood disease is dental caries, and it is a contagious disease, yet a lot of people don’t know this.
As I have told this story over and over again in different schools how we can share a spoon, share a kiss, or wipe off a pacifier that’s fallen on the ground, you can share disease. Can’t tell you how many nurses have been shocked at this idea. In the school setting, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention takes a strong stand in the area on the need for both a protocol and a high level of supervision. So we can’t just have them doing it by themselves, and we have to set up that protocol that we need to be in place.
The likelihood of cross-contamination in the school setting in toothbrushing activities is really high. Improper storage and children’s behavior can be a big part of this impact. There’s a small chance that exists that toothbrushes can become contaminated even with blood with gingivitis or trauma or things like that. So, before we go and we set up these programs, we’ve really got to stop and evaluate the process and then develop a protocol.
So let’s talk about what’s some of the things that we can do. For example, I watched someone today applying toothpaste to a toothbrush and going on to the next toothbrush. Seems simple. Seems like you’re supervising. And yet you could be cross-contaminating from one toothbrush to the next. So the issue: toothbrush was being dispensed from one tube of toothpaste, going from child to child and cross-contaminating. This can be a real issue. The simple thing to do is order those dappen dishes that cost pennies-a-piece, or a piece of wax paper or foil, and do individual servings.
The other thing that I’ve seen is people not marking toothbrushes, or marking them with tape because this will peel off over time. We’ve really got to know whose toothbrush is whose, and we’ve got to get something on there permanently. So we can either use a dremel or get a permanent marker and apply the child’s name.
One of the places that I went last year I saw children trading toothbrushes or using them as swords. All of those things really are something that could cause contamination from one child to another. We have to have direct supervision. We have to be in a well-ventilated area for the brushing task and set rules of no touch for other student’s toothbrushes.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of issues with storage. And this is a wonderful program, but you’ve got to find a way. What I have found has been the easiest is Ziploc bags. Many of the student’s toothbrushes with the Ziploc bags can become contaminated if you don’t replace the bags frequently. And we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got something set up for them to spit and swish. So paper disposable cups, this is an area where that’s vital.
I’ll always have the children rinse the toothbrush with water and stored upright position [sic] in a disposable cup, preferably in the sun exposing it to air; both of those are antimicrobial. Give a new cup each time they brush, and dispose of it after brushing. If you’re going to use Ziploc bags, replace them weekly.
This is for you and for those kids you are serving. I wanted to make sure you knew.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.