After reading the response "Reflections on Dentists" (September 1995) to Dr. Burton Press` insights in the article "Reflections on Dentistry" (July 1995), I feel compelled to respond to her response. Her infatuation with correct dental terminology and obvious lack of practical experience gives some clue as to why she missed Dr. Press` point. Perhaps she is a recent entrant into the field of dental hygiene.
Some words of wisdom to a junior hygienist from an RDH with over 20 years of experience: Nowhere in the dental hygiene manual does it say all you need to be successful in the field is to be excellent at cleaning teeth - excuse me - oral prophylaxis. In a field where competition among dental practices for patients is ever increasing, the wise hygienist has long since learned the necessity of making your patients love you to help the dentist build and maintain patient loyalty.
The point is you may be the best and most competent individual in the world when it comes to oral prophylaxis, but if your patients don`t like you, don`t love you ... guess what? They`ll go find a hygienist they like and feel comfortable with! The practice I work for both thrives on and appreciates the efforts I expend to build and maintain a warm relationship, to make my patients love me and continually return. My employer has stated that hygiene is the backbone of his practice. The patients return because I am both competent and I care; as a result they like me.
With the growing success of preventive dentistry, the hygienist becomes even more crucial to the growth of the practice since the hygienist usually has considerably more contact with the patients. Professionalism and the personal touch are essential to long-term patient loyalty. They are both realistic and attainable goals for any hygienist. It may take years to perfect the skills needed to achieve both but in the end it will be worth it
Suzanne R. Grumstrup, RDH
Coeur d`Alene, Idaho