Understanding the health effects of trauma

It is important to engage with patients in a collaborative, non-judgmental fashion when discussing their habits and how it might be impacting their dental hygiene.

There is a great deal of correlation between experiencing traumatic events and using coping strategies to cope with hypervigilance and being overwhelmed that can have a long-term negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health (e.g., smoking, substance use, overeating, and high-risk sexual behaviour).

It is important to engage with patients in a collaborative, non-judgmental fashion when discussing their habits and how it might be impacting their dental hygiene. It is important to remember that when a patient comes for dental care, you are unaware of the person’s situation and the degree of awareness or shame they experience in regards to the state of their teeth how they are coping with life stressors.

Interprofessional collaboration 

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It can be very helpful for Oral Health professionals to familiarize themselves with local mental health and substance use programs in their area.

Typically, different health authorities have a number of programs and information/referral lines. 

It is important to have these (For example, if we expanded “these.” e.g., “these resources”, “handouts”) only out for information or if a patient mentions on their own accord that they are looking for support.  Great care must be taken to not force or assume that a patient requires these supports since the patient could feel exposed or further traumatized by feeling singled out.  Keep referral and educational material on trauma readily available to all patients in the waiting room so they can pick up information if they so choose.

Great care must be taken to not force or assume that a patient requires these supports since the patient could feel exposed or further traumatized by feeling singled out.

Keep referral and educational material on trauma readily available to all patients in the waiting room so they can pick up information if they so choose.

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