Editor's Note

Dec. 16, 2013
Columnists are the friendly neighbors with whom we routinely interact. We wave to them while setting the garbage outside in the morning, and, later in the day, we chat about the beauty of the sunset.

Columnists are the friendly neighbors with whom we routinely interact. We wave to them while setting the garbage outside in the morning, and, later in the day, we chat about the beauty of the sunset. I typically devote this December note to my favorite quotes written by all authors during the course of a year. As I was refreshing my memory about 2013 articles, though, I realized that I really like some of the comments made by the columnists this year.

As you'll see from the selection below, some of my favorite one-liners are derived from columns regarding the 100th anniversary of the profession. We encouraged the columnists to say "Happy Birthday" to you, and all sorts of interesting insights and trivia emerged from these columns. But we'll start off with the I-dreamed-I-went-shopping-stark-naked observation.

• Eileen Morrissey, Anecdotal Hygienist column, January 2013. Morrissey was delivering a presentation when she had one of those moments that we all dread at some point in our lives.

"... I became very animated, tossing ideas about, and enthusiastically waving my hands. Suddenly I became aware that one technician's eyes were averted downward. Feeling suddenly nauseated (sixth sense?), I glanced down, and to my horror realized that my zip-up jacket had become unraveled from the bottom up! The two sides were now open, exposing my pasty, white stomach. I cannot be sure, but I feel certain that the zebra striped bra I had selected for that day was now also on display."

• Thomas Viola, The Drug Whisperer column, February 2013. Viola was enjoying a break outside on a pleasant day when a smoker on oxygen had the same idea — sort of.

"She removed the cannula from her nose and draped it across her chin. In a few seconds, she removed the cigarette and the lighter from her pocket, and, making no attempt to stop the flow of oxygen, she put the cigarette between her lips and lit it. I closed my eyes again, but this time for a different reason. I wasn't sure if I would hear an explosion, if it happened. So I waited until my mind had finished flashing through all of the memorable moments of my life, and I could hear the birds chirping again."

• Lynne Slim, Periodontal Therapy column, March 2013. If you enjoy the company of a good canine or feline companion, you can probably visualize this.

"My dog, Nellie, is a piece of work. She's 17 pounds, all dachshund and a real couch potato. This winter, she's spent many hours hibernating under the dining room table and scratching. Finally, I became so frustrated with the endless scratching noise, including the jingling collar tags, that I called the vet."

• Ann-Marie DePalma, From the Podium column, March 2013. The aforementioned columns celebrating dental hygiene's birthday started with the February issue. DePalma wrote the second one, discussing the evolution of continuing education in dental hygiene.

"In 1927, two schools offered summer postgraduate dental hygiene courses — the University of Buffalo and the Forsyth Dental Infirmary. From these humble continuing education beginnings, it took another 40 years for the ADHA House of Delegates to adopt a policy promoting the development of quality continuing education programs in 1967."

• Noel Kelsch, Infection Control column, April 2013. Kelsch's column is all about infection control, which probably should be a consideration during birthday parties. In her 100th anniversary column, she refers to a Hungarian physician's 1847 discovery that occurred after following medical students. It is a little sobering. We are grateful for sanitary conditions in the health-care setting, eh?

"He discovered that the same students who performed autopsies on patients who died of sepsis then assisted in childbirth. Without washing their hands, these physicians performed vaginal examinations on expectant mothers with what Semmelweis called 'cadaverous particle.'"

• JoAnn Gurenlian, Looking Ahead column, May 2013. Gurenlian expressed best wishes during her 100th anniversary column.

"We have had the first one hundred years to make improvements in our techniques. Let's make the next hundred about improving health outcomes!"

• Lory Laughter, Web Weaving column, June 2013. Laughter's observations about online information of interest to dental hygienists included the patently false ones, including this hoax.

"According to the story posted on such reputable news sites as and the New York Daily News, a Polish dentist pulled all the teeth of her unsuspecting ex-boyfriend after he left her for another woman."

• Trish De Dios, Career Development column, July 2013. There are colleagues you wonder about, and one annoying trait they possess is withholding information. De Dios has a special term for them.

"A hygiene hoarder is a term I coined to describe hygiene professionals who have a tendency to hoard information from fellow colleagues or gloat about what they know without explanation."

• Christine Nathe, Public Health column, August 2013. Nathe interviewed Irene O'Connor Navarre, who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1938. A couple of things to note about this blast from the past: The dental fee, and the fact that the dental fee was returned to the patient. Times have changed.

"My father took me to his dentist's office to have a deciduous tooth extracted, and after the dentist extracted it, my father paid the bill, which was $1. Dr. Acheson took the dollar bill and handed it to me, and instructed me to save it!"

• Dianne Watterson, Staff Rx, September 2013. Watterson's column can be casually described as following a "Dear Abby" format on practice manangement issues. For her 100th anniversary column, she reflected on the evolution of practice management, including this all-too-rare memory of downtime.

"One hundred years ago, I wonder if dentists worried about open time in the schedule. In my first dental job 41 years ago at the front desk of a dental practice in Thomasville, N.C., there were days when I was happy that someone cancelled. We were scheduled out solidly for two months on the doctor's schedule and six months on the hygiene schedule. It was a dilemma when a patient called to report a broken tooth, because I had no open time in the schedule to bring him or her into the office. Hygiene was slammed as well. If someone cancelled, I had five more patients waiting in the wings for that time. We were overbooked, stressed out, and worn out by day's end. Downtime was not a problem. Were we happy? Not always."

• JoAnn Gurenlian, Looking Ahead column, October 2013. Gurenlian reads the salary surveys that are published in RDH and RDH eVillage. In writing an inspirational take-charge-of-your-destiny message, she reminded us of a similar predicament we deal with after Thanksgiving dinner.

"Waiting for your employer to value you more and improve your quality of life is right up there with waiting for those unwanted pounds to miraculously be shed."

• Nancy Burkhart, Oral Exams column, November 2013. The column emphasizes issues in oral pathology, and Burkhart could not be expected to celebrate 100 years of the dental hygiene profession by calling our attention to the most villianous of lesions, could she? So she wrote about her favorite hygienists in the profession, particularly those who could appear in a chapter of 2013's best-selling book "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg.

"... she believes that women hedge their statements because of the fear that they will be labeled as not being a team player, seen as negative and as a nag. Women also fear that they will call attention to themselves, and this may open them up to attack. This is especially true for hygienists who are seen as limited 'employees' of the dental practice. Previous research studies have also shown that individual workers who have 'low control in the work environment' also have more chronic health issues."

As always, you do not have to scramble to find weathered copies of RDH to view these columns in their entirety. They are all accessible on

As for this issue, may I direct you to page 16? Anne Guignon, author of the Comfort Zone column, frequently advises hygienists to do something for themselves with her December column. This year, she writes:

"There are hundreds of ways that we can give back to ourselves. Some just want some alone time. Others take naps. Some go shopping. Others like to travel, cook, exercise, watch a movie, quilt, or spend time with children and grandchildren. ... The point is to figure out what works in your world and map out a way to recharge your physical and emotional batteries and create your own personal comfort zone."

On that note, we wish you a happy holiday season that leaves you recharged for 2014.

Mark Hartley
[email protected]
Follow RDH on Facebook

More RDH Articles
Past RDH Issues