Teaching dentists/dental students to achieve behaviour change with their patients
Dental education develops proficient clinicians with the diagnostic and restorative skills needed to begin a career of lifelong learning. Besides diagnostic and restorative skills, dentists will be more successful with their patients if they can motivate them to achieve specific health behaviour changes. Motivation comes from within and motivational interviewing is a technique dentists and dental students can employ to move beyond a basic conversation with patients to discover what they want, why they want it and what help they need to achieve behaviour change that results in better oral and general health.
The most successful dentists employ motivational interviewing techniques instinctively. These skills can now be introduced to dental students during their professional training with tools that change their conversations with patients. The OARS technique provides a four-step approach that dental students can use in conversation with their patients to develop a working relationship focused on achieving oral health. The OARS technique also works between dentists and dental students establishing a pattern of conversation that provides feedback to confirm that information presented by the dentist educator is in fact received and understood by the dental student.
Motivational interviewing and the OARS technique provide dentists and dental students with tools to help them better understand each other and their patients while communicating their message in a way that achieves the desired behaviour change.
Ms. O'Hehir attended the University of Minnesota where she received degrees in Dental Hygiene and Higher Education. Four decades as a dental hygienist have included private practice in the United States and Zurich, Switzerland and faculty positions at the Universities of Minnesota, Washington, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.
She pioneered the position of Periodontal Therapist in Arizona, and worked for several years teaching local anesthesia and providing local anesthesia in an oral surgery practice. She has completed training in both Oral Myofunctional Therapy and Buteyko Breathing. In addition to extensive clinical practice experience, she is an international lecturer, educator, administrator, writer and consumer advocate.
In 2012, Trisha and two dental hygiene colleagues founded O’Hehir University, an international, online educational center where licensed/registered dental hygienists can complete a Bachelor of Science Degree in Oral Health Promotion. The focus of this education is inquiry, reflection and achieving behavior change in the dental practice.
She authored 26 years of Perio Reports research summaries, the textbook Compendium of Current Research, contributed to the texts Comprehensive Dental Hygiene Care, by Dr. Irene Woodall, and Comprehensive Periodontics for the Dental Hygienist by Dr. Mia Weinberg. Trisha’s articles have appeared in Hygienetown, Dentaltown, Dental Economics, RDH, JDH, JPH, Access, JDR and JADA.
Her awards include the 1991, Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota, School of Dental Hygiene and the Warner-Lambert/ADHA Excellence in Dental Hygiene Award in 1992. Trisha currently lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, where she is a Past-President of the Arizona State Dental Hygienists' Association.
Trisha is considered a future-focused thinker who combines current research, practical applications, and alternatives for the future