I took offense at a couple of statements made by Ruth Sloan Bugbee in the "Remembrance" article in the April 1998 issue. Although Ruth was a dedicated hygienist and pioneer in our field, I think she should have had more empathy for those of us in general practice.
She said, "If you`re standing at a dental chair doing prophys all day, and educating each person - you sound like a broken record at the end of the day."
One of the challenges of dental hygiene is inventing new ways of motivating each patient we see. My earliest attempt at doing this was to stick up Farrah Fawcett`s 1977 poster on my wall, covering up her chest with large letters which said, "Floss `em." Most patients couldn`t believe that gorgeous smile was her real teeth. I then had the perfect opportunity to explain how to maintain a healthy smile of their own.
Ruth goes on to say, "But, when you work in dental health education, you are doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people."
If that were the case, most of us should hang up our prophy angles right now. Public health hygiene has its place and does a great amount of good, but to presume it`s reaching more people than those of us who work in private practice is unfair.
For the thousands of hygienists who do not have a bachelor`s degree or live in a large city, working in public health is not an option. I would love to work in public health. I can`t imagine what it would be like to have paid sick leave and retirement benefits. Unfortunately, the nearest public health position is 200 miles away. And, as far as I know, there are no openings.
Ruth Sloan Bugbee has done a lot for our profession and perhaps the article was unfair to include the quotes it did since she can no longer defend her statements. Dental hygienists work in a variety of capacities. I don`t feel any one of them is doing a greater amount of good than the next.
Bobbie Peterson, RDH