It’s 20 to 25 years later!

June 1, 2005
As we explained in our “About the Cover” description, this month’s cover model recently was “queen for a day” in her dental office as part of a celebration of her 25th anniversary with a dental practice.

As we explained in our “About the Cover” description, this month’s cover model recently was “queen for a day” in her dental office as part of a celebration of her 25th anniversary with a dental practice.

The number 25 looms large in my mind too, because RDH celebrates its 25th anniversary with the January 2006 issue. What are we going to do? It should be kind of a special issue, don’t you think? I wonder, who should go on that cover?

Last month, my association with RDH entered its 20th year. I keep thinking how things have changed.

We have published articles recently where respected clinicians said that alternatives should be explored if compliance is not going to be achieved with flossing instructions.

Who would have dared to say that 20 years ago?

We publish articles about hygienists purchasing their own equipment, such as loupes, instruments, chairs, etc. Twenty years ago, a big discussion would have been who is going to pay for the laundry of dental uniforms, since the defining of OSHA requirements was just getting warmed up.

We publish articles all the time about hygienists who graduated 20 years ago or longer, and are still practicing, much like the cover model. Many hygienists are the breadwinners. I still can remember folks regarding dental hygiene as a temporary career until a decent marriage proposal came along. And dental hygienists never seemed to have to wait long for qualified suitors. On top of it, think of all the career alternatives that are available to hygienists now - corporate, foreign, consulting, etc.

Twenty years ago, California was a nasty, hostile environment for practicing dental hygiene. The government launched a test program to see if hygienists could practice “independently” in an effective way. The association for dentists and the association for dental hygienists started suing each other. Even if you preferred to kind of just wander down to work and do your own thing, you had to deal with the suspicion of being one of those uppity hygienists. There are still occasional flare-ups between the two professions, but it really isn’t too bad these days, is it? According to press releases and other public statements they make, the ADHA and ADA appear to get along very well in shaping the future direction of both professions.

RDH’s older sibling in its publishing family is Dental Economics, a grand old institution that is 94 years old. RDH’s younger sister is Woman Dentist Journal (three years old). Yes, unlike 20 years ago, there are now enough female dentists to justify a national circulation of a publication.

Although they are kind of shy - at least from the perspective of contributing to RDH - male hygienists continue to grow in numbers. Maybe in 20 years there will be a magazine titled Male Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner. Whew! I’d hate to be the one to squeeze all those words on the cover.

We, of course, had computers 20 years ago. But I don’t remember them being good for much of anything. We now have a columnist, Victoria DaCosta, who writes about nothing except how to use all of this high technology in that little corner known as the hygiene operatory.

Victoria, of course, makes me think about the evolution of the magazine’s writers: Irene Woodall and Regina Dreyer in the 1980s; Trisha O’Hehir, Heidi Emmerling, and Cathy Alty in the 1990s; and the current generation of Victoria, Ann-Marie DePalma, Dianne Glasscoe, Mary Govoni, Anne Guignon, Karen Kaiser, and Lynne Slim, as well as feature writer Cathy Seckman. They and other contributors are quite a good group to be associated with 25 years after the first issue.

RDH has been swept along, too, by high technology. The magazine last spring launched its online version, RDH eVillage, which is directed by Kristine Hodsdon. Last month, the magazine offered its first Webcast. It was a course on orthodontics hosted by Invisalign. (Since I haven’t talked about it in previous issues, I probably should point out to confused readers that the course is still available at the magazine’s Web site [another change from 20 years ago],

All of this reminiscing, which hopefully you are allowing me to indulge in, kind of makes me agree with the consultants and lecturers who keep shouting, “These are exciting times for dentistry!” I think they have a point, and I am glad to be here with you.

But, first, I need to step back in time. Twenty-five years? What am I going to do? Maybe I can figure out a way to make all RDH readers “queen for a day.”

But who goes on that January 2006 cover?

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at [email protected].