Mark Hartley, Editor
The artwork and photography for an RDH cover, as with many magazines, involve the efforts of several people. I`m usually the least important member of the group, merely stating what the theme should be. "Uh, why don`t we have a model holding a Beanie Baby, and we`ll do cover words that say something like, `Hygienist extorts Beanie Babies from young patients; they must document flossing twice a day or give up their lovable companions.` Get busy on it!" (Actually, I just got through reading about a local dentist accused of tricking young patients into child pornography. Over the years, I`ve discovered that, if you run a search in a database about crimes dentists commit, you usually come up with sexual molestation or insurance fraud as being the crimes of choice among the few unsavory dentists out there. I`m not aware of any criminal patterns among dental hygienists; the extortion of Beanie Babies is the best my imagination can come up with.) But count on it; an artist and photographer will come back with something heart-stopping - a sad Beanie Baby will peer down at its reflection in a pool of tears, and the attire of the hygienist would render Disney`s depiction of 101 Dalmations` Cruella as being rather homely.
But enough of the frightening images. RDH covers, after all, are happy affairs, and we`d like for you to be a part of it. Someone, years ago, got the notion that it`s politically correct to show hygienists doing only work-related activities and wearing work attire. Why don`t we just turn back to this month`s cover as an example. The model is snapping on a pair of gloves, and she looks downright picturesque in her scrubs. She`s picturesque, that is, if you spend much time admiring the scenery in dental operatories. Call me crazy, but I believe if we dug the clipboard out of the box in the closet, stuck some forms on it, and started calling on hygienists in dental offices, we`d be surprised by our little survey. "Ma`m, I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of scenery is most likely to take your mind a thousand miles away and make you smile as if you were thinking about your most pleasurable memory. Would that be, one, a serene forest where stepping on pine needles seems like the loudest noise you`ve ever made; two, dancing an evening waltz with your partner on a bridge in Vienna; or three, your operatory?"
Although hygienists are obviously proud of their work, they are not one-dimensional. Some of the more popular articles in the magazine address extracurricular endeavors that are fun, enriching, and show a side of hygiene that goes beyond the operatory. Why can`t the cover photos be like that?
Nah, I don`t want to see hygienists in office attire anymore. It`s gotten to where I`m even commenting to my hygienist during my recall appointments, "That lab coat looks pretty similar to the one appearing on our May 1996 cover. Don`t you have anything a little more original?" Before you write the letter to the editor about how dim-witted I am, let me just say that I`ve always admired the fact that artists and photographers would never criticize the apparel of dental personnel who are holding a handpiece.
I want to open up the cover of RDH to readers. More details of what I`m suggesting appear in the Readers` Forum on page 10. Send us a photograph and tell us about an achievement - either professional or from your personal life. Or "nominate" a colleague who has always impressed you with his or her endeavors. The downside is that you would have to pose for a professional photographer (in a session usually lasting an hour or so) and follow his or her instructions. But that`s actually quite fun.