by Mark Hartleymarkh@pennwell.comFollow RDH magazine on Facebook

A Collection of Thoughts

Nov. 1, 2010
Financial acquisitions in dentistry are not uncommon.
Financial acquisitions in dentistry are not uncommon. The October 11 deal between Royal Philips Electronics (Philips Sonicare) and Discus Dental, however, is possibly the most interesting corporate shifting in dental hygiene in recent history, arguably even more so than the 3M ESPE acquisition of Omni a few years ago. 3M ESPE produces the Clinpro and Vanish brands for a strong preventive dentistry division, but those products tend to be overshadowed by the corporate giant's restorative products.

Several companies are openly pro-hygiene companies with their support of the profession. But any debate about them would have to include Discus Dental and Philips Sonicare. Dental hygienists should follow with keen interest the end result of the transaction.

In fact, the comparison to 3M ESPE above may turn out to be somewhat unfair. Omni was a 100% preventive dentistry company, and 3M ESPE purchased it with those benefits in mind. The preliminary remarks by corporate officials with Royal Philips praised Discus Dental's "tooth whitening" and "cosmetic dentistry" products, not the preventive side.

Speaking of corporate support of dental hygiene, this magazine teams up with Sunstar Americas and Philips Sonicare for a couple of awards each year (Award of Distinction and Mentor of the Year, respectively). We just got underway with another one for this year, the RDH/Trident Xtra Care Award. Details are on pages 5 or 52 of this issue.

Trident wants to honor dental hygienists who "often do not get the recognition they deserve for their vital work in promoting proper oral care among children and adults, especially in underserved populations ... By establishing this award, Trident and RDH magazine seek to show their appreciation to dental professionals who volunteer their services, as well as to encourage others to extend their care to the less fortunate in their communities."

I hope you will take a moment to tell your story or share the story of a colleague. The most humbling moments that I experience as an editor are spent reading the accounts of dental hygienists who, against numerous obstacles, deliver care to the underserved.

Back in the day when convenience stores were primarily for purchasing a few grocery items (usually a little more expensive, but "convenient" to buy), and gasoline was purchased elsewhere, many families shared in the operation of these stores. I once compared the average general dentistry practice to convenience stores, and was reminded that the air quality is different between the two businesses. It was explained to me that the air in dental practices was more rarified and godlike. This is just in from a convenience store still operated by a family:

"Pop, I just put the help wanted sign in the window, and people keep sneering at me, saying we probably offer benefits just like a dental office. I'm just tired of it, Pops, just tired of it."

"Jimmy, some day ... some day, convenience stores will not be compared to dental offices. Be patient, son."

Yeah, I've been doing some number crunching in recent weeks for the RDH eVillage/RDH magazine salary survey (go to to view the results, if you're interested).

Out of almost 2,000 dental hygienists, here are the standings on the percentages of hygienists who receive these benefits: health insurance (46%), employer contribution toward retirement (63%), paid vacation and holidays (85%), paid sick leave (44%), life insurance (16%), dental insurance (28%), disability insurance (14%), flex time (6%), CE tuition reimbursement (57%), and child care (1%).

So the next time you buy flavored beverages and fruit from Jimmy, show a little compassion, would you?

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