Hygienist Martina Crisma, Up Close & Personal
Why did you choose to become a dental hygienist?
I’ve always been interested in dentistry, biological science and health in general, and my natural character’s traits suits very well the aspects that this professional role requires: precision, passion, empathy and positivity.
I discovered this profession only after having graduated in Biological Science with a thesis about celiac disease and its oral signs. After my Bachelor’s degree, I was already enrolled in neuroscience but just before starting the university I came to know that the city I was in offers the best dental hygiene program in Italy. I was very interested and a few days later I passed the exam and I was a Dental Hygiene freshman!
What do you like most about being a dental hygienist?
I love my job in its entirety, but what rewards me the most is seeing the impact that my profession can have in my patients’ lives. I see them understanding the importance of prevention and changing their habits because of my suggestions, they get to smile again and they thank me for that. I am over the moon when I see them improving their general health and their confidence.
Describe a typical day at work.
I always arrive 30 minutes before my duty starts, I check my daily agenda, I get into my colourful scrubs and I go over the files of the patients of the day. I check that everything is ready for my first patient, then I select a good playlist that gives me good energy and vibe for the day.
I enjoy each and every patient of the day, and I always spend some time to get to know them a bit better, I love to create a good relationship with them. If I have a cancellation, I usually get a break and visit my colleagues for a quick chat or I have a fruit. When I finish my day, I check and review the notes on the files before getting changed and I leave the clinic to go to Zumba!
What do you think is the biggest change that you’ve seen in your profession?
I’m very happy to say that lately I’ve been seeing big changes and a new approach in my field, especially in the methods. Nowadays, we can offer our patient a much more comfortable and pleasant session of dental hygiene, focusing more in the easy removal of the biofilm first, with painless instrumentations as airflows, and only afterwards focusing on the hard deposits removal. This way we can reduce the discomfort of the patient to a minimum, leaving the manual and ultrasonic scaling only to remove the tartar.
Nowadays people are starting to understand the importance of prevention and I see a better oral hygiene in patients, generally speaking. And that helps a lot as well. I would like to see in the future people coming to the dental hygienist happily and enthusiastic like when they go to the hairdresser, this should be the feeling! You are doing something good for yourself, for your confidence, for your health and for your smile! And with no pain or stress! Why not be happy for that?
What are the top 3 most common dental hygienist solutions/services in your practice?
What are common misconceptions about dental hygiene?
That bleeding gums is normal. I’ve had patients that were sure that the bleeding from their gums was due to their monthly period, or because they have sensitive gums or because they changed toothbrush or even because flossing was causing the problem. Well, if you floss too harsh your gums might get a little irritated but this usually is not the problem.
Gums bleeding is NEVER normal. it is a sign that something wrong is going on, especially it could indicate the onset of gingivitis. Left unchecked and untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, with tooth loss as the potential result.
So, when your gums are bleeding, please schedule immediately an appointment with your dental practitioner as soon as possible to evaluate your oral hygiene practices and begin treatment for any potential gum conditions, and in the meantime, you should not leave your gums alone nor brush and floss any less.
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to brushing and flossing?
When it comes to brushing, most of the patients use a wrong technique (usually horizontal) or a hard brush that damages their gum and their enamel.
Other patients have an electric brush but they don’t use it properly. Depending on which kind of brush they have, we go over the correct technique together and I make sure they try it themselves and they learn it before leaving the clinic.
Speaking of flossing, we have 3 mayor categories: the “non-flossers”, which I detect easily, then we have the “guillotine-flossers”, who push the floss too hard in a straight line into the gums, cutting them, or the “trapped-hands flossers”, who don’t have a clue how to grab a piece of floss. I’m joking, of course. :) But I usually have a solution for each one, just a quick demo and practice together at the mirror.
As a hygienist, what is the biggest problem you see in most of your patients?
The biggest problem I see is that many patients do not floss. I always insist on the importance of flossing. Yes, it can be annoying and people often forget, or they say they are too tired or too lazy to do it. But really, once you start doing it, it only takes a minute and it’s a big investment for your mouth! I can see a huge difference in the patients that floss and use an electric toothbrush versus those who don’t. Electric toothbrushes dramatically cut down on the amount of build-up you produce between cleanings. These two products make cleanings easier for you and me!
For oral hygiene to be effective, what do you usually advice your patients?
Every patient is different and I always take the time to understand the needs of each one.
But generally speaking, I usually advise them to brush their teeth for two full minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush that is small enough to maneuver around the inside, outside and top of every tooth. I suggest that they listen to an entire song whilst brushing teeth – this will be the appropriate time needed to clean teeth. Also replacing a brush every two months is really important in maintaining the effectiveness of the brushing.
When buying a manual toothbrush, I always recommend one with soft bristles as this will protect gums from damage to a greater extent. Brushing harder will not remove more dental plaque – it only harms your gums and enamel. I advise them to consider investing in an electric toothbrush, the novelty of a fancy new toothbrush is motivation alone to brush more!
Last but not least, I go over the importance of the interdental cleaning, depending on the patient, on the anatomy of the teeth or in the presence of prosthetics, I can recommend a certain type of floss, interdental brush or electric device such as airfloss or waterpick, and for each one a specific technique. If you want to know more just book a hygiene examination with me, together we will find the perfect home care solution for you.
What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?
I am a passionate and self-taught photographer and digital artist. What I enjoy most is the fine art photography and the photo-compositing. One of my pictures has been already published in a British magazine and I also made some advertising work.
My second passion is dancing. I especially love Latin dance, salsa, reggaeton, and Argentine tango. I attend private dance lessons and collective Zumba classes.
My other hobbies are traveling, fitness, guitar, yoga, manual craftworks, nutrition and raw-vegan recipes creation. Did I mention that I am a health enthusiast?
What’s the one thing a lot of people don’t know about you?
I’m crazy about organic vegan food, I eat mostly raw vegan and I prepare my face mask and hair mask by myself with natural products!
What is your work mantra/motto?
A day without a smile is a day wasted!