Talking to the animals

Way back there in June, we popped a question at you. Actually, it was a list. RDH published a survey asking you to choose topics of interest to you. The items checked off would presumably lead to articles that would make you a little more muscular as a dental pro. In one section, we listed specialties. The golden oldies were there - pediatrics, orthodontics, oral surgery, etc. We threw in some non-specialties such as treating the physically challenged. On a whim, I added veterinary dentistry.

Mark Hartley

Editor

markh@pennwell.com

Way back there in June, we popped a question at you. Actually, it was a list. RDH published a survey asking you to choose topics of interest to you. The items checked off would presumably lead to articles that would make you a little more muscular as a dental pro. In one section, we listed specialties. The golden oldies were there - pediatrics, orthodontics, oral surgery, etc. We threw in some non-specialties such as treating the physically challenged. On a whim, I added veterinary dentistry.

Fortunately, periodontics remains the top specialty of interest in a magazine tailored for dental hygienists. A solid second at 44 percent, though, was, yes, all that health care we render for other mammals. Unless I`m sadly mistaken, it is extremely difficult to explain to cats and dogs about how they should be brushing their canines. We can deduce that many RDH readers wouldn`t mind working on furry patients who are readily forgiven for not understanding instructions about the proper grip of a toothbrush. Unless I`m sadly mistaken, patient-provider communication is not a high priority among vets. After all, I`m delighted when I`ve successfully defined excrement boundaries (namely the back yard) to other mammals. I`m so delighted, in fact, that I flip them over onto their back and rub their tummy. Sometimes I`m so delighted that I will even sing praises to the other mammals about the success of this communication.

It`s a wonderful feeling to talk to the animals. Oral hygiene, though, has to be an infrequent topic of discussion - doesn`t it? My poll of other mammals reveals a strong interest in collectively browsing through the dining guide in Friday`s newspaper. Other mammals could literally spend days with me poring over the menu items offered by local restaurants. I just can`t see the other mammals in my life interrupting a lively conversation about coupons for a steak house to bark or meow, "By the way, could you pick up some floss? My hygienist says I`m not doing it enough."

My children, though, would hopefully remind me of such pointers from their hygienist. The odd thing is that, kids being kids, they all have different personalities. So I hear a different story from each of them about their oral hygiene responsibilities. It`s certainly not as wonderful of a feeling to talk with humans sometimes. We have this uncanny ability not to communicate.

On page 14, John Wilde delves into that unsatisfying chat that occurs in the dentist`s office - not the vet`s office. Call it the filmy look. Call it the glazed look. Say that the shades have gone down. It`s tough to communicate with a mammal who has that look. Dr. Wilde writes about modifying your presentation according to your analysis of the patient`s personality. Patient acceptance of dental facts varies for each individual, and he outlines four different personalities that you are likely to come across during the course of a day. The Dialogue survey on page 18 represents our interest in how you manage patient education with different personalities. I`d love to read your insights about what you to do improve communication with patients - the human kind, though, not other mammals.

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