Dental hygiene is a carrier that reaches far beyond the clinical setting. Dental hygienists can go on to become forensic scientists, take up positions in various public health settings, and step into the world of sales. For my demo unit, I have focused on dental head and neck muscle anatomy. An expert that I would be interested in being involved in this unit would be an orofacial myofunctional therapist (OMT).
It is not uncommon for dental hygienists to speak to patients about the anatomical structures, features, and pathologies of the mouth that affect all different aspects of oral and facial muscles (Moeller, 2009). Therefore, it is not a stretch to discover that dental hygienists are crossing over into the field of orofacial myofunctional therapy. This career requires the orofacial myofunctional therapist be familiar with normal head and neck anatomy, dysfunction of head and neck anatomy, and how head and neck structures function cohesively in everyday eating, chewing, swallowing, and speaking (Moeller, 2009).
I have not created a specific activity for my unit that includes this individual besides having an orofacial myofunctional therapist join in on our summative assessment case study presentations. I believe their insight and perspective would offer students unique feedback and broaden their connection to the material learned in class and the application to a real-world occupation. If I could dream of an activity that involves a dental hygienist who is also an orofacial myofunctional therapist, then I would incorporate their presence in learning the extra and intra oral examination procedure. I have learned that a community of practice is more than just a relationship between people who share a passion for a subject.
A community of practice is about building relationships between individuals who aspire to grow professionally, solve unique problems, share experiences, and work to improve the profession they both love (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015). I believe that an orofacial myofunctional therapist would be able to improve the cognitive thought process of students as they learn to investigate head and neck muscles, extra and intra oral structures, and how the connection to patient oral/facial day-to-day functions. The more ways we can learn to approach a routine procedure, the more things we can learn to identify and be encouraged to take preventative action.
I need to go back and include this relationship with an orofacial myofunctional therapist into my extra and intra oral lab practical.
I wonder if there are other professional relationships that I might be able to include within the entire anatomy course?!
Moeller, J. L. (2009, November 01). Orofacial myofunctional therapy. Retrieved from https://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-29/issue-11/feature/orofacial-myofunctional-therapy.html
Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wengner-Trayner, B. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/