Editor's Note

May 31, 2013
A strong wind blew over most of the woodpile, and I spent a late spring day stacking it up nice and tidy a couple of yards away from the west fence.

The online version of this Editor's Note differs from the one that was printed in the June 2013 issue. All columnists were ask for their "ah-ah" moment in their careers. Not all responses were received by the print deadline, so they are included below.

A strong wind blew over most of the woodpile, and I spent a late spring day stacking it up nice and tidy a couple of yards away from the west fence. Even though it was warm outside, I did pause and think about cutting up some longer pieces so they would fit better in the buck stove.

I’m not insane, though. The sawing can wait until cooler temperatures in September or early October. Most of my musings about the lumber I hopefully will burn next winter focused on the bow saw in the garage.

I do intend to keep using it (a neighbor lets me use his log-splitter if the thickness of the wood is an issue). Too many precious moments in this life have been wasted in taking apart a chain saw and trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. Men should spend more time thinking up jokes about high-maintenance chain saws. Low-tech sawing works just fine as long as you routinely change the blade.

So, as an aging baby boomer who looked up the location of Walden Pond for its proximity to the ADHA annual session this month, I’m not exactly a role model for cutting-edge technology. If it doesn’t work, I don’t want to use it again.

But I do spend a fair number of hours each month reading the advertisements in RDH, the press releases about new products, and Kim Miller’s column in each issue. Manufacturers and entrepreneurs still think of nifty ways to do things on this 100th birthday of dental hygiene, don’t they?

We’ve been featuring a column each month that focuses on the profession’s first 100 years (check out Anne Guignon’s “Comfort Zone” on page 12 for this month’s entry).

The evolution of the hardware and software at your disposal in the operatory has made a huge difference in patient care. So I asked the columnists to tell me what single product transformed their careers with a powerful light-bulb moment. I mentioned that it did not have to be a product currently used by themselves or dental professionals in genral.

Here are the products that caused the columnists to exclaim “Ah-ha!” the loudest during their careers:

  • JoAnn Gurenlian (page 10 in this issue) “For me, it would have to be Colgate Total for its ability to have both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. No other toothpaste has that capability.”
  • Eileen Morrissey (page 26 this issue) “For me, it was the ultrasonic scaler! When I was in school, it was dragged out only once or twice during the semester so that we had ‘exposure’ to it. I remember marveling at the efficiency of it and thinking, ‘When I get to private practice, we are going to have one of these babies!’ Fortunately, the doctor I worked with was a forward-thinking, efficient man!”
  • Lory Laughter (page 28 in this issue) “Hands down, OnPharma buffered anesthetic. While the office where I am working no longer uses the product, I miss it daily. Knowing patients achieve immediate and profound anesthetic allowed me to work better and without fear of causing discomfort. Additionally, knowing it is better for the patients’ health by decreasing the chance of tissue necrosis made me feel better as a health-care provider. If I could add one thing back into my set up, it would be OnPharma!”
  • Dianne Watterson (page 54 in this issue) “Designs for Vision loupes, hands down!”
  • Lynne Slim (page 58 in this issue) After graduating from Fones in the early 1970s, I landed a great job in Closter, N.J., and it was there that I was introduced to an old clunker — a big metal box — but fully functional Dentsply Cavitron unit. I was armed with a P-10 insert and I was off like a rocket, power scaling every adult patient I could. We used to perform gross scale/fine scale procedures, and I had a ton of stainless steel instruments rattling around on the tray. But I didn’t use a lot of them. Once I made the transition to ultrasonics, I never turned back.
  • Kristine Hodsdon (the editor of RDH eVillage) “For me, the product that made a significant difference in practicing dental hygiene was the automatic film processor. I remember being in school and eventually practicing in offices with the ‘tanks and dark rooms.’ I referred to the task as the ‘dipidity do’ of X-rays because of the up and down submersion in the fixer and developer, and the drying of the radiographs. From an efficiency perspective alone, the automatic film processor was a powerhouse in decreasing procedure time and increasing service to patients.”
  • Christine Nathe (the author of the Public Health column) "The year was 1992, and, after the second full week of using them in practice, I remember telling my husband that modified ultrasonic inserts revolutionized my practice of dental hygiene!"
  • Kim Miller (the author of the Haute Hygienist column) "I think I said, 'This changes everything for me' when I learned how to correctly use ultrasonics. Once I truly understood the science behind ultrasonic technology I could see the huge benefits for the patient. And once I understood how the ergonomics of ultrasonic could benefit me, the clinician, it changed everything about my clinical practice, for the better."
  • Ann-Marie DePalma (the author of the From the Podium column) "Dental implants have changed the face of treatment options for patients. Implants provide patients with opportunities that were once not available to provide them with the smile they deserve. Enhancements in implant therapies since I have been involved have revolutionized our perspective in what we can offer patients. Yet our knowledge of implants and their maintenance is still in its infancy. I am looking forward to the next wave of research and information."

What product prompted you to have an illuminating moment in your career?

Mark Hartley
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