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Readers' Forum

Aug. 1, 2003
I was astonished when I saw the Reader's Forum for the month of June. I cannot believe that anyone would say that Anne Guignon was degrading, rude, and disrespectful.

In defense of a speaker

Dear RDH:
I was astonished when I saw the Reader's Forum for the month of June. I cannot believe that anyone would say that Anne Guignon was degrading, rude, and disrespectful. I was personally upset about what was written since I know better. I have heard her speak before and was at her program at the Las Vegas Under One Roof and did not witness any degrading.

What I witnessed was an awesome woman who truly loves her profession. I witnessed a woman who goes out of her way to empower other hygienists with the knowledge to practice without pain, that they do not have to feel isolated, and that they can choose to not practice in a toxic environment. What I witnessed were hygienists coming together to help each other. There were tears; there was clapping to show appreciation and support of each other; and there was an energy that I have rarely experienced elsewhere.

Many people have e-mailed me at my Web site (, stating that Anne is their "angel." She has helped many burned-out hygienists love their profession again. She has fought hard for our profession. Her articles are written from the heart in the hopes of saving hygienists from pain and falling into the brink of burnout. She works hard to help others. She has inspired and encouraged me to want to achieve more — not only for myself but for my patients.

If the RDH Under One Roof attendee from Alabama was upset that Anne reaches out to other hygienists to join our professional organization, then so be it. We have worked hard for our education. We are proud to have struggled and completed our education. Education is the way to go to achieve your personal best. You can never convince me otherwise.

For those who get upset about our constant struggle to keep the educational standards high, I ask you why? Why wouldn't you want to do this? What is wrong with wanting to better the profession? Do I feel degraded when a hygienist's has a bachelor's degree, while I have an associate's at this point? No! That person is proud of their education and should be! That person worked hard to achieve that degree. I do not feel that insecure.

I personally want to say "thank you" to Anne Guignon for being one of my mentors. Thank you for being selfless in nurturing your fellow hygienists. Thank you for empowering hygienists to know that they can be the best at whatever they want to achieve. Thank you for reaching out to those in need. Several years ago, when I was in a toxic environment, Anne and I communicated regularly. She gave me the strength to know I could achieve more and believe in myself.
Amy Nieves, RDH
Henderson, Nevada

Shortcuts are also called supervised neglect

Dear RDH:
I have read so many articles like this (Guest Commentary by Cappy Snider, RDH, May 2003 issue), and have suffered through a few of the same kinds of experiences. My first hygiene position was with an office that scheduled 10 patients per day. I was not able to practice hygiene the way I was trained — and the way my state's dental practice act requires — because there simply was not enough time.

I read an article in RDH about two years ago that tallied the amount of time needed for a hygienist to get everything done, and the total time added up to 90 minutes. There must be a lot of dental hygienists out there who are forced to make shortcuts, delay more involved treatment, and delay patient education just to stay on time.

Isn't that called supervised neglect? Why do we put up with that?

I put up with it for a while because I needed a job, and, in my state, to practice dental hygiene, one has to work for a dentist. That seems to be turning out to be a conflict of interest for me, as I would prefer to practice hygiene the way I was educated at school. Without my employer holding me back, I could do that.

In those 45 minute appointments, with the dentist checking late, patients arriving late, X-rays to do ... I did not have the time I needed to properly educate the patient, provide demonstrations, and propose treatment. At this practice, I arrived 30 minutes early to organize my day, and I usually worked 30 minutes into my lunch hour cleaning the operatory and charting, because the dentist would not check on time. Additionally, I stayed 30 minutes after work, cleaning up and sterilizing all the instruments. I had absolutely no help, as was promised, and no sympathy.

When I complained of my situation to my employer, he suggested that I take the instruments home to sharpen. What?

In my opinion, the only answer to this problem is for hygienists everywhere to unite and to demand one patient per hour. Everyone, everywhere, put down your instruments, and refuse to work, unless you are given one hour per patient. Let's call the media, and expose this dysfunctional situation. We shouldn't be putting pressure on ourselves to get it all done in 45 minutes or less, because that is just not realistic. It's not good for us, and it's not good for the patient.

We need to be putting pressure on our employers to stop forcing us to "supervise neglect," and to stop forcing us to strain our bodies to the breaking point. I believe we need to stop putting up with this dysfunctional circumstance, that is imposed on us by our employers.

With all due respect, we are not being "perfectionists" when all we have time for is the bare minimum. We need to change our circumstances and insist on at least one hour per patient. I changed mine. I see only one patient every 70 minutes. I get my full lunch hour, and the doctor exam is in his operatory and on his time. I still put in a long day, but it's with joy, not with sighing.
Cathy Point, RDH
Redwood City, California

About the cover
Click here to enlarge image

If you're thriving on the "reality shows" while waiting for the summer reruns on television to conclude, you may have seen this month's cover model. She portrays her real-life self as a dental hygienist, appearing on MTV's The Osbournes. As a hygienist for one of Hollywood's dentists to the stars — Dr. Bill Dorfman, the founder of Discus Dental — Patti Cantor has made an appearance on the MTV program to provide care for Ozzy and his rocking family.

Cantor, who resides in Westlake Village, Calif., with her husband, Lawrence, and children, Emily and Sam, has witnessed an evolution while providing optimal care in dental practices. Her career started at grassroots offices in Texas, but she now participates in assisted diagnosing and treatment coordinating in elite offices in Southern California. Cantor claims that she owes much of her success to particular mentors in her life, who reinforced her love for the dental profession and people. She is a textbook example of hard work paying off, and her enthusiasm and dedication are apparent when you speak with her.

If you are wondering about the surfer dude of the canine variety who is sharing the cover with Patti, that happens to be Daisy, the family's wire-haired fox terrier, enjoying her dog days of summer. The cover photograph was taken at Cantor's pool.

On weekends, Patti relaxes by working in her backyard garden, which is partially captured in the photo at left. And, while the rest of us (including Daisy) are suffering in the heat, Patti and the family are enjoying Europe on their summer vacation.

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