Not everyone has access to dental services. Some communities remain in unlivable conditions where dental and oral health are not the priority. Some people do not bother to get their tooth decay treated. Others are not mindful of their gums: while it may look like our gums are always fine, we also need to check whether they are diseased. Poor oral hygiene can cause this and will eat at our teeth bones if left unchecked.
Throughout the world, oral and dental care is becoming more and more inaccessible. The Global Burden of Disease Study in 2017 says that approximately 3.5 billion have some oral disease among the world’s population.
Low- and middle-income countries that cannot provide services to prevent and treat oral health conditions suffer the most from this. It can affect people throughout their lifetimes. It can cause pain, discomfort, disfigurement, and sometimes even death.
That’s why oral health counselors are crucial in these cases. They promote oral and dental health outside the work of a regular dentist. To learn what oral health counselors do and why it is important, read the whole article.
What Are Oral Health Counselors
An oral health counselor is qualified to occupy two important roles: a dental therapist and a dental hygienist. They are primarily tasked to provide diagnosis and treatment advice for both children and adults.
Oral health counselors are also tasked to provide preventative programs in hard-to-reach communities. For instance, they can conduct educational events teaching residents about the proper way of taking care of teeth and gums.
To become an oral health counselor, they must fulfill three years of study into a Bachelor’s Degree approved by the National Board. Compared to a dentist, oral health counselors have a shorter training period of about 1 to 2 years.
A good oral health counselor can assess your oral health. They must have keen observation skills and appropriate training to determine the cause of dental issues. They should be able to provide the correct treatment for their constituents. And lastly, they must be able to ensure the overall health of their patient’s mouth.
What Do Oral Heal Counselors Do
Your dental health is as important as your overall health. It is crucial to ensure that you are getting the right oral care and treatment for your teeth. This is why the work of an oral health counselor is as crucial as other dental healthcare professionals.
There are existing similarities between the work of an oral therapist and a dentist. For one, they both provide dental care and knowledge to patients. However, a dentist focuses on the clinical aspect of oral health.
An oral therapist focuses on motivating people to take better care of their dental and oral health. Oral health counselors can also perform general dental tasks for patients. They might assess and treat teeth and gum diseases. They are also tasked with the promotion of oral health and disease prevention.
According to the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Center, these are the duties and responsibilities of an oral health counselor:
- Ordering or taking x-rays
- Filling and extraction of teeth
- Replacing crowns
- Administering local anesthetic
- Repairing dental prosthetics
- Making mouthguards
While their other tasks are similar to a dentist, an oral counselor acts as an allied health professional. Oral health counselors can provide medical advice about oral care. They work with the rest of your oral health team to provide you with the best dental treatments.
Why An Oral Health Counselor’s Work Is Important
The work of an oral health counselor involves providing basic dental care. They can serve in their own dental office or provide homebound care. Yet, the most important area of their practice is where they are truly needed–the underserved communities.
According to a study, nearly 61 million people in the US live in areas with a shortage of dental professionals. An oral health counselor is important for providing dental care for individuals who cannot afford a regular dental visit. They are also responsible for individuals who do not have dental insurance.
You can mostly find oral health counselors in tribal, rural, and public health clinics. They can also practice in underserved schools, correctional facilities, and mobile health units.
Another important role of oral health counselors is providing basic knowledge. They are responsible for patient education. Your oral health counselor should take time to discuss and demonstrate basic oral and dental care practices.
For example, they may discuss how you should brush and floss your teeth. They may also inform you about interdental brushes. They will explain any dietary risk factors related to your oral and dental health. Finally, they will demonstrate the use of specialized cleaning tools and aids used in dental procedures.
Oral health counselors ensure that the patients have the best chance of maintaining their teeth, gums, and mouth. They form an integral part of managing your dental regime. These counselors work hand-in-hand with other dental professionals to achieve your overall oral and dental health. Without them, communities with a lack of dental professionals cannot access the quality services they deserve.