Let’s keep the love coming

May 1, 2005
I’m big on sharing “firsts” with you. My oldest child, a son, graduates from college this month.

I’m big on sharing “firsts” with you. My oldest child, a son, graduates from college this month. But enough about that; it’s not really important. It will be a Kodak moment, and I can always refer to the family scrapbook later. I’m not sure why, though. Has anyone seen a young adult in the days immediately preceding the extensive grooming and bathing required for entry into the real world?

What is important is Cathy Seckman’s article on Terri Brisbin, who is a romance novelist/hygienist. Cathy wrote the article (page 20) and, right before publication, we got word of Terri’s nominations for some writing awards.

“Well, I should check this out,” I thought to myself. Checking the facts is what I’m supposed to do.

So I went to the Web site for Romance Writers of America - for the very first time ever. The facts about Brisbin were correct, but, my, my, there sure are an awful lot of ways to say, “I love you.”

Some of my favorite titles up for nominations are, “A Man in a Kilt,” “Do Me, Do My Roots,” “Time Off for Good Behavior,” “The Game Show Bride,” “Tall, Dark and Texan,” “When He Was Bad,” “The Unexpected Wife,” “The Butler Did It,” “Beloved Imposter,” “A.K.A. Goddess,” and “Fatal Error.”

I should read some of these novels. I would like to get time off for good behavior because I’ve been bad, blaming it on the butler and other imposters - at least nothing has been fatal outside of the fact that, as a native Texan, I’m not particularly tall or dark. I should read about some of this loving that goes on.

Nah. What’s more important is that I read this email from a male hygienist. “I never read about male hygienists,” he complained. “What bothers me more is in all (and I mean all) the articles they always refer to ‘her’ and ‘she’ as the hygienist. I now know what it feels like to be discriminated against. I don’t like it. Please address this issue of male hygienists out there.”

I think he raises an excellent point. I would also bet good money that - like me - he never has visited the Web site for Romance Writers of America.

My advice to men who resent not being grouped with all of the other tooth fairies (a common public slur aimed at women employed as dental hygienists) out there is:

• Find a computer.

• Turn it on.

• Click on the word processing software.

• Write an article about dental hygiene, typing “he” and “him” until you’re absolutely delirious with the pleasure of typing male pronouns.

But it’s got to be a good article. One thing you can say about these females who favor “she” and “her” is that they know how to string together some good sentences.

Brisbin is one of them. I actually met her a few years ago. I’ve always been impressed with how she found her niche in writing. She is now being rewarded for excelling at it. You have to admire someone like that.

As long as you don’t identify a single person or a single hygienist as “their,” I’m completely open to the gender you choose to identify.

But we all know dental hygiene is dominated by women. Maybe that will change in the future. As I have written here before, I think a few more male hygienists would be good for the profession.

Men, of course, are supposed to be the silent types, keeping their feelings to themselves. Half of the women I know swear that working in an office dominated by women is the pits. The other half say they prefer working in offices where there are only women.

I think Brisbin’s next novel should be titled, “He Dental Hygienist Marries She Dental Hygienist.”

We have to keep the love coming.

One of the most positively beautiful, enchanting, and adventurous things to happen in the profession is the advent of the advanced dental hygiene practitioner (ADHP). Hygienists who enjoy the clinical aspect of the profession won’t feel so stifled by their career. This will be a terrific opportunity for so many in the profession.

What’s more important, of course, is that we continue to respect each other. My main worry is that “uppity” ADHPs and “stuck-in-a-rut” RDHs will say things to each other that they will later regret. A spat will evolve, and folks will start viewing each other with contempt.

Remember the tension between dental hygienists and “preceptor” hygienists in Alabama? Remember how the general sentiment is that preceptorship results in subpar care in that state? The irony is that the acronym for the Alabama preceptorship program is ADHP.

Let’s keep the love coming. It’s important to admire what we all contribute to dental hygiene.

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