What's On My Tray

What's on my tray: A guest hygienist's tools of the trade

Feb. 8, 2023
Learn what products this RDH relies on as a full-time guest, or temporary, hygienist.

Whitney Howard, RDH, is a full-time guest hygienist, otherwise known as a temporary hygienist. The Chicago native attended dental hygiene school at Prairie State College, and after graduating in 2018, worked for a single dental office. When the pandemic hit, she decided to start temping full-time.

Whitney also attributes her decision to become a full-time fill-in dental hygienist to the flexibility that temping provides. This different way of practicing clinical dental hygiene allows her to create her own schedule and to spend more time with her two sons. The last couple of years working in various settings have helped Whitney home in on what products best work for her as a clinical dental hygienist. “I enjoy temping because I travel to different offices and learn different things each office has to offer.”

Whitney’s ideal tray has Oral-B Gum Care Compact manual toothbrush, Trace disclosing tablets, and Oral-B Super Floss.

It’s all about the brush

No two patients’ mouths are the same, and dental products are not one-size-fits-all. Beyond that, Whitney understands that we need to meet people where they are: “Everyone’s mouth is different, and everyone’s comfort level is different. Not everyone agrees on an electric toothbrush.”

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Products for a diverse patient base

A pediatric hygienist's bag of tricks

This is especially true for some people with sensory issues who sometimes have difficulty tolerating an electric toothbrush’s vibrations. Whitney recommends the Oral-B Gum Care Compact toothbrush for patients who prefer a manual toothbrush. It has a compact head to help patients “get the individual tooth cleaning and hard-to-reach areas you cannot get with other regular manual brushes.” It has feathered, multilevel, high-density bristles that provide an “exceptional softness on gums without compromising a deep, interdental cleaning.” Whitney can attest to this as she noticed a “deeper clean on teeth and along the gumline” on her patients who use the Oral-B Gum Care Compact toothbrush.

A visual learner

Nothing is more disappointing than finishing your deplaquing treatment in dental hygiene school and feeling like you got it all, only for your faculty to disclose your patient and find you missed plaque. Our love-hate relationship with disclosing solution has everything to do with how great a product Young’s Trace disclosing is: there’s no arguing against the dark-red staining on a plaque-covered tooth.

This is true for dental hygiene student education, patient education, and assisting patients with their home care. Whitney especially loves Trace disclosing solution because she believes in the power of educating our patients through visual learning. “Trace disclosing solution is a product I love because I get to educate the patients on brushing and flossing while they can visually see what and where I am referring to. It allows me to get more detailed with my education. Patients are usually more receptive to visuals versus just me explaining what I see. It gets them interested, engaged, and curious about what steps should be taken for improvement. I am a visual person, so I’m all about educating, not just with descriptions but also visuals.” Trace comes in a 2-ounce bottle and can be used in the office, or your patients can buy it to use at home.

The right product

How often have our patients given excuses about why they don’t floss, especially when it comes to flossing under bridges, retainers, and braces? Too many times to count. Whitney finds that her patients complain about “how thick and uncomfortable threaders are to use when cleaning bridges, retainers, and braces.” But when she shows them Oral-B Super Floss, her patients are “more receptive to using Oral-B Super Floss than threaders.”

Oral-B Super Floss is used for cleaning under and around appliances, removing subgingival plaque, and deplaquing wide gaps between teeth. Super Floss has a “stiffened-end dental floss threader, spongy floss, and regular floss.” Whitney’s favorite feature is “how Super Floss has one stiffened end to get through to clean comfortably.” My favorite feature about the Oral-B Super Floss is that I don’t have to rethread the floss threader after every insertion, which saves me time and results in a smoother appointment. Super Floss also reduces waste by providing a premeasured strand of floss, essentially removing the guessing game.

For more from Whitney, follow her on Instagram @brainswhitbeauty.