Cala French, RDH Integrated Healthcare Hygienist in Oklahoma

Meet Cala! An Integrated Hygienist in a Women’s Health Center

May 15, 2024

Cala French, RDH is an integrated hygienist, embedded within the Women’s Health Department at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC). She works closely with pregnant women and infants to toddlers, providing dental prevention education tailored to their specific needs, and is a student in the NNHH Oral Systemic Educator Certificate Program (OSECP).

Cala is part of an integrated hygiene care team, created and managed by Brianne Carter, RDH, CH-OSE, one of our founding members and first graduates of the OSECP, which is a requirement for all integrated hygienists at OKCIC. Brianne’s Capstone Project for the OSECP painted a picture of how valuable an RDH can be to specialty care in a hybrid role, to the point that OKCIC quickly hired more hygienists to integrate into specialty clinics, and moved Brianne to the role of Dental Director. Patients and providers alike appreciate the oral systemic knowledge these integrated hygienists bring to the clinics, strengthening bi-directional referrals.

If you are wondering what a typical day in the life of a hybrid Healthcare Hygienist looks like, read on as we interview Cala

What job duties does an integrated dental hygienist perform?

  1. Dental Prevention Education: I educate pregnant women on preventing dental periodontal disease and dental infections, emphasizing how these conditions can impact the health of the fetus. I provide guidance on oral hygiene practices throughout the different trimesters and address common challenges such as morning sickness and altered brushing routines.
  2. Fluoride Varnish Application: I apply fluoride varnish to strengthen enamel, particularly important during pregnancy when women may experience vomiting and acid reflux that can weaken teeth.
  3. Patient Support and Navigation: I assist pregnant women in navigating challenges related to oral hygiene routines, providing practical tips and suggestions. This includes advising them on when to brush after experiencing morning sickness and providing alternatives such as swishing with water or mouthwash.
  4. Provision of Dental Supplies: I supply patients with essential dental hygiene products such as toothbrushes, infant finger brushes, toothpaste, and floss to support their oral health at home.
  5. Screening for Regular Dental Care: I screen pregnant women to ensure they are receiving regular dental care and schedule them for exams and cleanings as needed, fostering trust and rapport between patients and clinicians.

How does a hybrid or integrated RDH collaborate with other medical professionals?

I work closely with obstetric providers and their nursing teams within the women's department to provide comprehensive care to patients, ensuring that dental health is integrated into overall healthcare during pregnancy.

How many Integrated RDHs (I-RDH) are on your team?

On our integrated dental team we have 3 integrated hygienists including myself. One of our hygienists is integrated in our pediatric department and the other is integrated in our metabolic department. We also have 2 full time clinical hygienists, and I also work clinically to see my OB patients for continuity of care. 

Brianne Carter is currently serving as our Dental Director. She supports our clinical team to ensure we have everything we need to provide quality care to our patients. She advocates for the integrated care approach and seeks opportunities to expand the integrated team to improve access to care for patients. Brianne realizes the importance of access to care and the pivotal role our integrated team plays in our patients overall health, because of her background as an integrated RDH herself.

Connect with Cala at [email protected] 

View NNHH membership and certificate program HERE

Are you an RDH interested in dental/medical integration and collaboration? Distinguish yourself as a specialist in your field while earning AGD/PACE CE. All of our programs are unbiased and evidence-based to focus solely on high-quality continuing education you can use immediately in a clinical, non-clinical or hybrid role.