Attending the ODA Annual Session can be a lifesaver

Dr. John Svirsky presents

Dr. John Svirsky presents a course at the 2013 ODA Annual Session in Columbus.

The Ohio Dental Association Annual Session offers general dentists, specialists, hygienists and all team members an opportunity to learn new skills and improve old skills that they can apply in their office right away.

After last year’s Annual Session, one office in particular was able to take knowledge learned at a CE course and assist a patient by identifying a potentially life threatening condition.

Elise English, a registered dental hygienist who works at Dr. Bill Stehle’s offices in Columbus and Marion, attended “Lumps, Bumps and Lesions for All Seasons,” presented by Dr. John Svirsky at the 2013 ODA Annual Session. The course focused on diagnostic challenges and techniques, premalignant and malignant lesions, unusual cases and the effects of tobacco products and alcohol on oral health.

About a month after attending the course, English said she was performing dental hygiene procedures on a patient when she noticed a lesion underneath his tongue on the left side. It was about 5 by 10 millimeters and was yellow in color with a red border.

“The lesion looked exactly like one of the pictures we saw in the course,” English said.

After noticing the spot, she alerted Stehle, who is a periodontist and ODA member. He identified the lesion as being cancerous, and the patient was referred to OSU for treatment.

English said that while without attending the course she would have noticed the lesion and pointed it out to Stehle, the course helped her to recognize immediately that the spot was concerning.

“I was glad I went to the course and that I had seen the patient six months earlier … and the lesion hadn’t been there before,” English said. “I was happy I was able to help this patient.”

The patient had oral cancer about 15 years ago on the right side of his tongue; however, he doesn’t smoke or chew tobacco.

All three hygienists in Stehle’s office attended “Lumps, Bumps and Lesions for All Seasons” together, and English said it was a great way for them to learn as a team.

“It was beneficial to go to together because we see each other’s patients and work together as a team, so it’s good for us to have the same base of knowledge,” she said.

Stehle added that Annual Session is a great way for hygienists to receive continuing education.

“It’s a benefit to make sure my hygienists are really up-to-date on all of the latest information, as I put a lot of trust in them,” Stehle said. “Annual Session helps keep their skills sharp through continuing education.”

English said she also attended “Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office: Strategies for the Dental Team,” which has given her the opportunity to take on more responsibility in Stehle’s office because the course met the Ohio State Dental Board’s criteria for dental hygienists and general supervision.

“One of the main goals of the ODA Annual Session each year is for all dental team members to be able to learn valuable information that they will be able to put to use in their offices right away,” said Dr. Daniel Ward, 2014 ODA Annual Session general chairman. “I sometimes hear that specialists and hygienists don’t think there are any courses aimed at them, but I would encourage everyone to look over the course list because there really is something for everyone – specialists, hygienists, office staff, assistants and general dentists.”