Editor's Note

Oct. 10, 2013
The popular joke that (mature) family members play with each other after dining on Chinese food is to add "in between the sheets" to the end of the inscription inside the fortune cookie.

by Mark Hartley

The popular joke that (mature) family members play with each other after dining on Chinese food is to add "in between the sheets" to the end of the inscription inside the fortune cookie.

I'm guilty of the same thing today, and I didn't even get a cookie. Recently, we had a discussion about an anomaly on our website (DentistryIQ.com) earlier this year. A fact sheet on calculus had been posted on the website, and Google went ballistic. The bowl of porridge was not too hot or too cold; it was just right. Thousands of people clicked on this fact sheet about dental calculus, and it can be hoped that dental health slightly improved nationally for approximately 24 hours or so.

I could give you the web address here so you can join the thousands of other people who viewed it. But it was a fluke. You learned this information on the first day of dental hygiene school. The clicks were just one of those crazy moments in modern technology.

Naturally, though, most people would like to have a crazy moment that goes viral, as long as they're not the idiot caught in an unflattering moment by a smartphone camera. The discussion about the calculus moment led to the pause that occurs right before the why-can't-we-have-another-crazy-moment idea popped up.

I quipped that our headlines have often led to crazy Internet moments by using the titles of famous books, interjecting, "The Lord of the Calculus; The Calculus Code; The Catcher in the Calculus; Anne of Green Calculus; Charlotte's Calculus; and To Kill a Calculus" have been hit headlines on DentistryIQ in recent years.

After the meeting, Ted Anibal was my next stop. A former colleague, Ted is a devoted wordsmith who makes me laugh with his correspondence. I asked him which movie or book titles would benefit from the insertion of "calculus." His recommendations were:

  • The Good, the Bad and the Calculus
  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Calculus (But Were Afraid to Ask)
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Calculus
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Calculus

Kirsten Brancheau, RDH, who reviews most RDH manuscripts, chimed in with:

  • Gone With the Calculus
  • Citizen Calculus
  • Monty Python and the Holy Calculus

I salute Mr. Anibal and Mrs. Brancheau, and hope they get great fortune cookies to read in between the sheets (separate sheets, of course). Anne Guignon borrowed from Dickens last year to name a column "A Tale of Two Hygienists." Her salute to Dickens was to illustrate the different types of occupational injuries that hygienists suffer.

What kind of tale would a bard write about the village of dental hygiene? As time goes by, the number of different occupations within the community increases.

Do you ever wonder what type of hygienist someone is? It used to be that a hygienist would fit the mold of Dr. Alfred Fones' vision. The memory of Dr. Fones, of course, has been toasted repeatedly during celebrations of this 100th year of dental hygiene. Nowadays, though, someone who legally maintains licensure may not have treated a patient in months, if not years. I find myself briefly pausing. What type of hygienist is she/he? How did we get here?

Molds, of course, are made to be broken. The very first engineer or lawyer would probably be shocked to discover how many types of engineers or lawyers there are today.

As an example, I have had the privilege of meeting many talented "corporate hygienists." Most of them very capably assist their employers in promoting good oral health in conjunction with the marketing of products produced.

But there's the other kind too.

"Hi, I am Becky, RDH. We met at the state hygiene meeting several years ago. Let me show you some wonderful things about some products my company has introduced this year. You'll want to order these for your office."

Did Fones envision this type of conversation between hygienists? I'm not knocking hygienists who find a niche in retail sales. But isn't this one of several "career paths" that might leave Dr. Fones pondering, if he resurfaced for a ghostly visit, "I wonder what type of hygienist she is?" Would it be too confusing for him, or would he be elated?

Did the first 100 years turn out to be an anomaly?

Mark Hartley
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