Editor's Note

Oct. 16, 2014
The columnists in RDH have more frequent deadlines than any other writers associated with the magazine.

The columnists in RDH have more frequent deadlines than any other writers associated with the magazine. So we have to stay in touch. It's not on a daily basis, but at least two to three times a month. As I write this, Kim Miller (Haute Hygienist, page 94) was excited about the expected delivery of her second grandchild. Anne Guignon (Comfort Zone, page 54) was frustrated with purchasing WiFi on a flight to Fresno. She was trying to meet a deadline for RDH from midair. To add to the misery, one of her bags did not make it to her destination. I interrupted Nancy Burkhart's (Oral Exam, page 72) vacation in Hawaii with a question for her. Boy, I felt about two inches tall after doing that. If there's anything worth boasting about in regard to a Boston professional sports franchise, I'll likely hear about it from Ann-Marie DePalma (From the Podium, page 50).

Such is a day in the life - always have to talk with a columnist about this and that.

Lynne Slim (Perio Therapy, page 88) entertained me the other day with a screen shot of a Facebook conversation in which she was a participant (so were Cathy Seckman, Maria Perno Goldie, Shirley Gutkowski, and Patti DiGangi, who also write for RDH).

The topic of the Facebook conversation is whether you say preventive (pri´ventiv) or preventative (pr´venttiv). As you can see, the pronunciation is very similar. As an editor, what you write is another matter. Write preventive, please, for RDH. If you don't, I'm going to pull out the red pen. Lynne's opinion on the subject, by the way, was, "Preventative harks back to the 1600s," adding later in another post that the "extra syllable has not been inserted by sloppy English speakers." (It was the plot of folks who spoke Latin back in the day.)

I liked Seckman's opinion: "[Preventative] seems pretentious to me."

If you are thinking right about now that I need to get a life, that's OK. The thought crossed my mind too.

Are hygienists too pretentious about preventive dentistry in general?

Dianne Watterson (Staff Rx, page 78) chatted with me about another hygienist who left the profession after becoming disillusioned with doctors' cavalier approach to hygiene care, "watching" the progression of oral disease instead of doing anything about it.

Dianne noted, "The idealism that is taught in hygiene school contrasts sharply with the real world, unfortunately. When hygienists are commanded by dentists to compromise their ideals, they either have to acquiesce or leave the profession, unfortunately."

Earlier this year, the American Dental Education Association presented a report filled with statistics about the 2013 graduating class of dental students. The ADEA mainly wanted to make it clear that today's new dentists remain "self-directed people who want to have a real impact on the health of their patients." Obviously, some hygienists may disagree with the last part, especially when periodontal health is being discussed or ignored during the doctor's exam.

The ADEA report, though, was devoted to details about the debt incurred both in college and dental school. It has increased by 10% over what it was in 2012. The average debt is $215,000. That's a lot of money, and a majority of new dentists said the debt "moderately" (22%), "very much" (22%), or "completely" (10%) concerned them. In addition, 57% of the males among the 2013 senior dental students intended to enter private practice after graduation; 48% of the female new dentists had similar aspirations; so, in the first few months after graduation, these new doctors likely incurred more debts.

Yes, new dentists often do their own hygiene as a way to save expenses at the beginning. Eventually, though, the addition of a hygiene staff is necessary to expand a practice's growth. Doctors' perceptions toward dental hygiene may be shaped by their own homegrown versions of a dental hygiene appointment back when they were rookies.

The dental hygiene profession is correct, though, in trying to be unwavering with its commitment to health care. Preventive care can be a part of the real world. A cottage industry of consultants has surfaced in recent years, marrying the business side of dentists with idealistic hygienists. These consultants often prove that a dual commitment to preventive care can be achieved. It can be done.

Mark Hartley
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