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Reader's Forum

June 1, 2008
I felt compelled to write after reading a letter in your Readers' Forum from a pro-expanded function hygienist (April 2008 issue).

Dear RDH:

I felt compelled to write after reading a letter in your Readers' Forum from a pro-expanded function hygienist (April 2008 issue).

Yet again I am hearing about expanded hygiene. Let me start by saying that I am thrilled there are hygienists that feel a calling to perform expanded duties. I am thrilled that there are states that allow for or are pushing for ADHP.

With this said, I am frustrated that I am made to feel (or people attempt to make me feel) that I am less of a hygienist if I do not wish to become an expanded function hygienist. What is so wrong about choosing dental hygiene simply because you love dental hygiene? Why am I made to feel I should be ashamed if I actually want to go to work, teach prevention, educate patients, and yes, clean teeth?!?!

I do not want to fill teeth, or any of the other duties that would come along with expanded function. I want to be a dental hygienist! I love being a hygienist, I love the duties I have now as a hygienist, and I think I am great at what I do. I would love to see everyone stop forcing those of us who actually love dental hygiene for what it is to feel like we are just mediocre clinicians.
Carly Jill, RDH, BS
Arlington, Texas

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Dear RDH:
I wanted to comment on your article from March 2008 in the RDH magazine. You did a very good job informing your readers about the dangers and warning signs of domestic violence. My wife is a dental hygienist and I am a detective with the San Diego Sheriff's Department. One of my previous assignments was to investigate domestic violence cases. I investigated more than 960 domestic violence cases and several that occurred “inside” a dental office while an employee was working. Thanks for spreading the word about these issues that not only plague the home but also happen in dental offices.
Detective Randy Avila
San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Dear RDH:

I read with interest Shirley Gutkowski's article “Minimal Intervention Part 3.” I now have a clearer insight as to why my doctor chooses to place an amalgam, resin or glass ionomer as a restoration.

I have enjoyed working with the new glass ionomer sealants. They certainly are easier to apply on a wiggly 6 year old, and at times almost seem too good to be true. I do feel, however, there is an area regarding sealants that needs to be addressed, that being bisphenol A. While I have yet to have a parent address this concern with me, the time is coming. Quite frankly, I will not know how to answer them. Within the past year I have read several newspaper articles discussing bisphenol A and its possible effects on humans. I have yet to read any dental articles addressing the topic.

I almost feel like I'm waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” Not long ago the media had a field day regarding the issue of mercury in dental amalgam. Soon, patients who earlier balked at the “cosmetic” white fillings will now want their amalgams replaced with resins (which to my understanding contain estrogen — a whole other issue.)

I do feel with the current trends to “go green,” as well as parental concern for ones children, this bisphenol A is going to get a lot more scrutiny.

Therefore, I am asking RDH to please help me and other hygienists become informed regarding this chemical. Then, when the time comes, we will be prepared to give our patients intelligent answers.
Christine Wolfe, RDH, BA
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Editor's Note: Ms. Wolfe asked a good question, so we asked the author to respond. Ms. Gutkowski writes:

“Thanks for writing and asking about the levels of bis-phenol-A (BPA) in the dental plastic material. It is an important topic, and on the top of the list for many people to talk with their oral health care provider about.

“The official American Dental Association stand is that not enough leaks out of the dental material to make a change in blood or urine levels, so it's a non-issue with them. Many sealant material makers have already removed that component from their material, so I encourage you to call and ask the manufacturer if their brand contains BPA. You are right to be concerned about your patients who had their mercury fillings removed in favor of resins; they are certainly wondering.

“Glass ionomers do not contain this controversial component. You can feel free and satisfied that you are doing a wonderful service for the people in the practice who benefit from sealants and surface protection. We've discussed this and other topics relating to it for the last couple of years on the email community and I encourage anyone who is interested in discussions on these kinds of topics to join us.

“All of this talk, though, brings me to the major point for my involvement in the MI dentistry movement — there's no such thing as a good filling. There's nothing like enamel.”


" In the February 2008 issue, the author of the article titled, “Lunch with Stella” (page 30) wrote, “Though dental hygiene is fully recognized in England, Nigeria has no specialty for hygiene.” Actually, the preventive dental profession of dental therapists are doing quite well in Nigeria. RDH regrets the error.

" In the April 2008 issue, the article by Carri Cady titled, “I Don't Do Windows,” was supposed to jump from page 79 to page 93. Part of the paragraph was left out. The entire paragraph should have read, “Oral BioTech, manufacturers of the CariFree System, has also developed in-depth, clinical CAMBRA training as well as implementation training to support practices in making this paradigm shift successfully, providing better treatment outcomes and benefiting financially all at the same time. There is a huge market in terms of dental products for us to reclaim from the drugstores that are making millions of dollars off our patients. They are selling dentist recommended' products that may or may not be at all what we would prescribe for our patients.” RDH regrets the inconvenience and the error.

" In the April 2008 issue, the From the Podium column by Ann-Marie DePalma made an awkward jump from page 86 to page 93. The entire paragraph should have read, “Noel practiced clinical hygiene for more than 20 years in both periodontal and general dental offices. She believes that it is critical for hygienists to understand all the treatment options available to their patients. Hygienists owe it to themselves and to their patients to be as informed about all available treatment products and procedures and have a true comfort level in discussing and using them. Patients question all members of the dental team about their condition and products available so everyone in the practice needs to understand all aspects of the periodontal disease process. That is one reason that Noel believes the listen and learn' programs are invaluable to practice development. In addition, to help educate all team members, the program is provided to dental practices free of charge!” RDH regrets the inconvenience and the error.

By Cathy Hester Seckman, RDH

Dental hygienists all over the Internet have been passing around a MySpace address on which a patient celebrates his love for his “dental hy-geen-ist.”

Loren Depping of Salem, Oregon, an elementary school teacher with a musical hobby, has written a catchy little song, “Dental Hygienist.”

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His explanation about the background of the song is:
“The history of “Dental Hygienist” goes like this: You know how sometimes things just pop into your head? I was working on songs for a CD (“Go By Train,” which came out last September), and I had a melody line I liked. I knew I wanted it to be an upbeat song. The first time I sang the line, it had nonsense lyrics. The second time through, though, the nonsense syllables became the words — dental hygienist.' The next line, 'Rubber gloves can't come between us,' just kind of slipped out. I don't know where it came from, but it seemed promising. From there it took a long time to finish. I wanted the song to be affectionate, but I also wanted to convey the sense that she'd earned my respect, not just my attention. Yes, she's sweet and hip, but what makes her such a catch is that she knows what she's doing -- she's professional.

“And, yes, there are many dental hygienists in my life, but I'm not related to & or seeing & any of them. I'm married to a social worker -- who's also very sweet and professional -- and my cheering section. I've been going to the same dentists -- first the father, now his son -- since I was three years old, and all of his hygienists have been fantastic. I have really sensitive gums!”

Loren, who has been a teacher for 15 years, plans to take a one-year leave of absence beginning in June 2008 to see what will happen if he devotes all his time to writing and performing music.

Hygienists are always welcome to his Space, at The lyrics for “Dental Hygienist” are:

Eye protection and a sky-blue mask / My mouth pried open when she asked / If I'm brushin' every night / Can't get words to come out right / She's all career but understands / Her radio's playin' San Francisco bands / A real smile, no trace of bleach / I think of places hard to reach

I'm in love with a dental hygienist / Rubber gloves can't come between us / Pulled to her like sweets to tooth decay / A little bit of spit and a little bit of polish / I'm so glad she went to college / Six whole months is too long to stay away / Hey, hey, hey, I'm in love, I'm in love

It's been a while and that's not smart / But I finally got my co-pay card / I wonder, why'd I wait so long? / In good hands I can't go wrong

When she's talkin' floss and plaque / Ain't a nerve she don't impact / Pinch me 'tween the cheek and gum / I'm feelin' everything but numb