Tiana Thomas, of Waterville, Christen Cavanaugh, of Massachusetts, both University of New England students, have been named the winners in the Hygiene Category of the Yankee Dental Congress Poster Session, according to a UNE news release.

The competition was part of a four-day conference, held Jan. 25-29 in Boston.

Thomas and Cavanaugh presented their research on the prevalence of osteoarthritis in dental hygienists. They investigated three studies found to reduce the development of osteoarthritis: hand exercises, weekly massages and specialized assistance from occupational and physical therapists. The duo found each therapy to be effective and recommend them to clinicians.

In addition, they provided recommendations for dental hygienists, including minimizing the number of instrument strokes applied to tooth surfaces, implementing the use of hand-specific gloves, and utilizing specialized therapy in order to decrease the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.

Reflecting on the experience, Thomas said, “While presenting our research, we received a lot of insight from members of the dental community and it was an honor to be able to communicate with so many well-known, highly educated individuals.”

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