The article, "Reflections on Today`s Hygienists," [July 1995] was very disturbing. It`s sad to think that some of the most prominent dentists today have such a narrow and sexist view of RDHs and their role. Does Dr. Press really think the hygienist`s main job is "to make people love her?" This is not a popularity contest! We are professionals who play an integral part of the health care delivery system, providing optimum oral health care to our clients.
On the other hand, Dr. Wilde would like to see hygienists become prophy machines! If you take away the screening process, charting, radiographs, oral hygiene instruction, and various supportive procedures, what`s left except scaling, root planing, and polishing. Yes, more production for the dentist but less personal and more fragmented care for the client. Is that what the dentist sees as the changing role? I hope not.
Perhaps the other dentists interviewed should learn something from their peer Dr. Oakes. He seems to be the only one who has a true appreciation and understanding of the role of the RDH.
EDITOR`S NOTE: Dr. Press did say, "to make people love her." But his explanation of that declaration was, "She builds a deeper relationship with patients coming to her over an extended period of time. She helps to modify behavior until they ultimately assume responsibility for their own wellness. We`ve burned out many hygienists..." Dr. Wilde`s opinion was based on the economics of dental practice management. He advocated the elimination of the tasks described by Ms. November-Rider above in favor of "expanded hygiene," which would make hygienists "more efficient, more productive, and much better compensated."