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Readers’ forum

March 1, 2006
Dear RDH: I must comment on the January 2006 issue of RDH, the 25th anniversary issue.

Happy anniversary, RDH!

Dear RDH:

I must comment on the January 2006 issue of RDH, the 25th anniversary issue.What a beautiful issue it is! It is a real tribute to the 25 years of outstanding journalism that RDH magazine has truly been! I must admit that it is a little scary for me to realize that I have been a registered dental hygienist for more years than RDH magazine has existed! For some strange reason, I still think of myself as a youngster in this profession. Somehow, the passage of time seems to escape me as I notice the years in my profession are rolling by faster and faster these days! I guess that is a sign that I am getting older. But, as I grow older, I can say that at least my profession has grown with me and weathered many changes along the way! The progress that I have seen in the profession of dental hygiene has been quite exhilarating, particularly in recent years. It can almost be intimidating if you let it be, but thanks to RDH magazine, its editors, regular columnists, frequent contributors, and the RDH Under One Roof conference, I feel that even the old-timers like myself can stay abreast of the positive changes. RDH magazine touches the real face of dental hygiene, reaching out to the everyday hygienist and empowering the health care practitioner with information, insight, and inspiration.

In 2005, I was honored to be one of the recipients of the Sunstar Butler/RDH Award of Distinction. I was telling one of my friends, who retired from dental hygiene in the 1970s, that I would be appearing on the cover of the September 2005 issue of RDH. She told me that she subscribes to and reads RDH magazine every month. Imagine my surprise that someone who had actually stopped practicing before RDH magazine even existed, not only had heard of the publication, but looked forward to reading it each month! It just goes to show you that RDH reaches the heart and soul of all hygienists! It also reinforces my belief of “Once a hygienist, always a hygienist.” This profession is not just a becomes a part of who you are, and I guess you can never really leave it behind you! After 29 years, I am still proud when I tell people that I am a registered dental hygienist. It’s still that same feeling that I had when I first received my college diploma and professional license. Thanks, RDH, for keeping the torch lit!

Maureen Murphy Chodaba, RDH
Highland, New York

Extra tips about yoga

Dear RDH,

I would like to make a few comments regarding the Mind, Body & Spirit column in the January 2006 issue. First of all, I am thrilled that someone has spoken out about the endless benefits of yoga for hygienists. I have been a practicing hygienist since 1975, and I am also a yoga teacher like Kristy Menage Bernie.

I am told by my peers that I look 10 years younger than I am. I feel great and, for a gal of 52, I think I am in great shape. To be able to maintain a supple spine is the key to feeling good and looking good. Back and neck problems arise in dental hygiene as a result of years of poor posture. Yoga focuses on lengthening the spine at all times. Back pain comes from the compression of the nerves between the vertebrae. By removing the compression, the pain will be alleviated also. Also, all of the tension that is carried in our neck and shoulders is relieved by yoga techniques.

If there are any dentists out there reading this, please treat your staff to a yoga workshop or series of yoga stress reduction classes. When your staff feels well, they will work harder for you. Better yet, hygienists should give this article to their employer. Yoga is great for your body and for reducing all of the stress that accumulates in a normal day at a dental office.

As a correction to Debra Grant’s article, she referred to Kristy Menage Bernie as a “yogi.” A “yogi” is a male practitioner of yoga and a “yogini” is a female yoga practitioner.

I also do not recommend Oxygen channel’s Inhale for beginners. Beginners need the guidance of a good yoga teacher to learn the poses before attempting this type of practice. Once the postures have been mastered, then this type of program would be fine. Otherwise, there could be numerous injuries.

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Learning the principle of “ahimsa,” which means nonviolence (especially to yourself), is necessary to practice yoga. I would prefer beginners to check out “Yoga Zone” on the Wisdom channel or look at for Yoga Zone, which gives good instruction for those who don’t know the poses. The beginner tapes/CDs are also good.

To find a good yoga teacher if you have no prior knowledge, go to the National Yoga Alliance at All of the teachers have met a minimum number of hours of study and standards just like going to an accredited dental hygiene school. There may be other teachers without this certification who may be good, but this guarantees a certain minimum amount of training. Any teacher can advertise in the yoga journal for a fee. That does not necessarily make them a good teacher.

For those who don’t have the yoga habit yet, try it. You won’t regret it. You will get the “high” of a glass of red wine... with no calories and long lasting positive effects. I promise you!

Nancy Waskow Tuccillo, BSDH, MA
St. Marys, Georgia

What Ernestine knows now

Dear RDH:

I was cleaning out my files and re-read the article titled, “Ernestine was right” (August 2005 RDH). I saved it due to so many similarities in my dental hygiene career.

I have been a dental hygienist for 31 years, and can no longer do it. I had ulnar nerve transposition performed in June 2005, with not as much success as expected. The orthopedic surgeon has said no repetitive motion anymore, so dental hygiene has been taken away from me. As soon as I started having trouble, I returned to school on a part-time basis, for a bachelor’s degree, but am not sure what I want to do. I have chronic pain like “Ernestine,” but insurance doesn’t take that into consideration. I am waiting to hear determination regarding benefits, etc., and my lawyer and I are planning to ask for a permanent settlement. I have been very discouraged most of the time, and this article reminds me of how important it is to advocate for one’s self.

Even after seven months, I still miss many of the clients I had over the years. I just want to echo your (Anne Guignon, the author of the article) advice to all hygienists, especially the new graduates entering what to me is an excellent career: Get a good disability policy, purchase your own equipment if the dentist will not, listen to your body, and act on pain signals. I reflect over the years as to the crazy schedule I had in some dental practices, and it was abusive! I would see anywhere from 10 to 15 patients in an 8 to 8.5 hour day, with no breaks, four or five days per week. I had no control over my schedule in those practices, so that is one important feature I think needs to be stressed to new hygienists.

As the saying goes, ”If I only knew then what I know now,” I would have done many things differently. I commend you for all the wonderful information on ergonomics and hope all will heed the warnings from those of us who have suffered. I view this as one door closing and two more will open, but I sure wish I could at least be closer to one of the next doors!

Keep up the great motivational work; all health professionals need this.

Jane Clay
Plymouth, New Hampshire


An article published in the February 2006 issue titled, “The Biofilm Between” (page 64), referred to a Sunstar Butler product called GUM® Plak-Check®. However, a reference chart that listed disclosing products failed to refer to the product. We regret the oversight.