Reconnecting Practicing Hygienists with the Nation's Leading Educators and Researchers.

Partnering Across Professions

In my April Editor’s Note, I wrote about renewal and how we need to embrace the changes taking place in dental hygiene.

In my April Editor’s Note, I wrote about renewal and how we need to embrace the changes taking place in dental hygiene. Collaborating with other health care professionals to improve patients’ health is one of the changes I mentioned. In dentistry and dental hygiene, we’ve long known that oral health impacts overall health. While it seems to make perfect sense, this association was only anecdotal for many years. We now know, however, that the oral/systemic link is real. Research shows that connections between periodontitis and numerous other conditions, such as respiratory issues, cardiovascular diseases, and even certain types of cancer, do exist. But the strongest link—as proven in scientific studies— is the one between diabetes and periodontitis. We know this relationship is bidirectional, meaning that periodontitis impacts diabetes control and diabetes control affects periodontal health. It seems only natural that we would want to collaborate with those who counsel and guide individuals with diabetes so they have the tools and education necessary to lead healthy lives. Enter the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE).

The AADE’s goal is to promote healthy living through self-management of diabetes and related chronic conditions. The organization has more than 14,000 members who represent interprofessional disciplines. Members include nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists, to name a few. Dental hygienists are eligible to become associate members with the right to vote, make nominations, and serve on or chair committees. With resources for health care professionals and patients, the AADE seeks to empower those who educate patients with diabetes through innovative education and support. Diabetes educators guide individuals to best manage their diabetes through lifestyle choices, nutrition, and medication management. They tailor programs and advice to individual needs, including daily habits and during times of change (eg, while traveling or during holidays). As oral health professionals, we can establish relationships with diabetes educators and refer patients to help them manage their conditions. The AADE website ( enables you to search for a diabetes educator in your area.

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Partnering across professional disciplines is the ultimate way to help improve patients’ lives. Such collaboration helps us grow professionally and provide significant benefits to patients.

Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
[email protected]

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. May 2016;14(05):10.

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