Softball is good for my health

July 1, 2003
Ah, man! There are two articles in this issue where Alabama is discussed quite a bit (pages 20 and 32), and I can't devote this space to it. You know how hard it is to get me to shut up about Alabama.

By Mark Hartley

Ah, man! There are two articles in this issue where Alabama is discussed quite a bit (pages 20 and 32), and I can't devote this space to it. You know how hard it is to get me to shut up about Alabama. I was going to write up a report about a fictional softball game. The home team is Alabama's state dental association, the ALDA. It's known affectionately in the hygiene community as the Always Lying (about preceptorship) Dental Association. The visitors are the ADHA. It's known wistfully in Alabama as All Divas Hike (to) Antarctica. That would have been a good game, played on ... guess when? Independence Day!

A pretty good game could have happened, you know? The ALDA has only 1,500-something members (which makes you wonder how the heck they obtained the political clout to stifle the type of dental care that Americans who reside outside of Alabama receive), while the ADHA has tens of thousands of members. I'm sure there's at least a dugout full of Alabama dentists who know how to swing a bat. I would be mightily surprised if the ADHA roster didn't have a few former collegiate players who know how to whiz that grapefruit over the plate.

I'm predicting a 2-0 final score with the game's two runs tallied in the ninth. Who wins? Good pitching always wins, plus there was one too many Dixie beers consumed in somebody's dugout. I think you know who.

Wouldn't you have enjoyed watching that game? Maybe not, depending on how sickened you are about bureaucratic associations that gobble up membership dues and offer what you perceive to be minimal returns. But in the field of dreams, all that cynicism fades away when the ump yells out, "Play ball!"

In fact, while I'm thinking about it, if any RDH reader played softball in high school and/or college, send me your info. We'll put together a squad. The next time a dentist says, "Listen up, buddy. We'll play your divas," I can reply, "No problem. Nine o'clock. The field down by the river." And if you gals whip up on a team of Alabama dentists, I'll put your whole team on the cover of RDH magazine.

Ah, I'm just itching to write the game story, but, nooooo, I need to write about something more important.

My health.

My dentist and hygienist are a fine pair for pointing out that I experience peaks and valleys in my self-care routine.

At my last recare appointment, my hygienist commented on the persistent presence of some pockets between my posterior teeth. The doctor indicated that he was going to refer me to a periodontist at my next visit, if I didn't shape up. So I made a mental note to be more aggressive with my home care, per the hygienist's suggestions.

I was anything but aggressive in the interim. Yesterday, I braced myself for the worst news. I could hear them — the hygienist and the doctor — murmuring behind me, and then he took a look too. "You've had a significant reduction in those pockets. Keep it up. See you next time."

To be honest with you, I wasn't thinking about that softball game between the ALDA and ADHA anymore. As I left his office, my thoughts were more along the lines of, "What just happened here?"

The only thing I could think of was that an RDH reader shared something with me, as coincidence would have it, right around the time of the last appointment. Sorry, I'm not going to refer to a specific technique or product here (I believe there are multiple ways to address a problem). But I did this one thing faithfully. Even though my perception of my oral care was that it was merely mediocre, this one thing made a difference.

Your average John Doe patient might tell the wife about the news and then forget about it. But, as the editor of RDH, I have to say it aloud, "Nice job, folks!" The appointment was a poignant reminder to me about all of your unheralded accomplishments as dental professionals. Thanks for caring about us, your patients!

You are, of course, supported by terrific continuing education in many formats — conferences, solo seminars, and, naturally, journals. I want to point out two continuing education opportunities in this issue. Oral-B is launching its Case Studies in Dental Hygiene with an article by Valerie Carter, RDH, about patients with Turner's Syndrome. The article should have been contained within the plastic bag that enclosed this issue. If it's not there, you can always call Oral-B at (800) 446-7252 for a copy (or additional copies).

Inside this issue, Dr. Michael Florman and The Academy of Dental Therapeutics and Stomatology offer an article on hand hygiene that is worth four CEUs.

Now, let's play ball! On the mound, two years after leading Forsyth to the national championship in softball ...

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