Editor's Note

Dec. 1, 2012
In this issue, several columnists wish RDH readers a happy holiday season, and I would like to echo that sentiment.

In this issue, several columnists wish RDH readers a happy holiday season, and I would like to echo that sentiment. The research for this “Editor’s Note” occurred not long after Hurricane Sandy, so my hope is that affected RDH readers along the Atlantic Coast have recovered enough to pause and catch the spirit of the holidays.

In this space here, I would like to pause and thank the writers who contributed to RDH during 2012. I read every article published in RDH, of course. Since I am the editor, I have at least some degree of admiration for all articles. But I do enjoy favorite lines from those articles, and I’d like to share those with you this month.

  • “The doctor and you,” by Janice Hurley-Trailor, January 2012 issue

Hurley-Trailor wrote about the professional relationships with dentists, and ended up quoting Milton, which is never a bad thing.

“Sometimes, it’s not others who most frequently speak ill of us. It could be our own self-talk that is less than uplifting. John Milton, an English poet, said, ‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ How many times a day do you undermine yourself with negative thoughts? Is it common for you to think things like this? ‘I should have done that better.’ ‘That’s so like me to mess it up.’ ‘Here we go again. I knew I’d run late.’ ‘I can’t stand this job.’ ‘Nobody listens to me.’ ‘I hate the way I look.’ Our minds, our thoughts, our self-talk is always on. According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts per day — about one per second every waking hour.”

  • “The Right Foot,” by Cathy Seckman, RDH, February 2012 issue

With the exception of a corporate celebration of Halloween, kids are generally discouraged from visiting the RDH office. So, I feel for you.

“Nothing adds more pressure to a hygienist’s day than the thought of a little one who might scream — might kick — might bite — and might make you feel like the most inadequate health-care worker in the world. ... M.E.J. Curzon, a well-known writer on pediatric dentistry, makes a broad statement in the British Dental Journal to settle the question once and for all. The objective in managing uncooperative children, Curzon says, is ‘to identify why the child is difficult and then set out a strategy of psychological management and empathy to enable the child to cope with the situation and come to accept dentistry as a normal and routine way of life.’ Easy for a researcher to say, isn’t it? No one’s throwing up on his leg.”

  • “Periodontal referral gone awry,” by Lynne Slim, RDH, March 2012 issue

The author, who also writes the “Periodontal Therapy” column in the magazine, asked to publish a separate article regarding her interview with periodontist Dr. Ted Bleckstein. It’s always nice when a doctor says it too.

“In dental school, all students were taught the importance of maintaining a referral-based approach to achieving optimal patient care. Before the advent of dental management consultants in the 1980s, the ethical delivery of uncompromised, evidence-based oral health care for patients was the consensus. Today, an aggressive businesslike practice has invaded dentistry, shifting its ethical core values, once viewed as untouchable, into the rearview mirror. This change has caused many GPs to encourage fewer patient referrals to specialists in order to maximize the GP’s practice income goals.”

  • “Having the courage to identify perio,” by Lori Fagundes, RDH, April 2012 issue

I just feel a certain empathy for anyone told that he or she will end up as the neighborhood’s “cat lady.”

“I grew up showing dogs in 4-H. When I was a young teen, I told my veterinarian of many years that I wanted to become a vet when I grew up. His reply was, ‘No, you don’t.’ It wasn’t because he had mixed feelings about his career. His advice was based on the perception that I would end up being the ‘cat lady.’ I was simply too emotionally involved with the well-being of all animals.”

• “In memory of Dan Funk,” by Suzanne Hubbard, RDH, May 2012 issue

As the title might imply, this article was sort of an obituary — a tribute to a patient of the author. Despite the sadness, I suspect many readers wished they had a Dan Funk booming into their offices.

“At 6’5”, weighing no more than I’d guess 170 pounds, Dan came in with a huge grin. ‘I can’t wait to get my teeth cleaned, I love getting my teeth cleaned!’ His loud and infectious voice drew patients’ eyes from their magazines to his exuberant commotion. ... The people around him giggled at his comment, and people were immediately drawn to him. He struck up a conversation with those around him and barely got his new paperwork completed. Knowing what I know about Dan now, I think it was a ploy to allay people’s fears.”

  • “Workplace bullying,” by Heidi Emmerling Muñoz, RDH, and Jan Carver Silva, RDH, June 2012 issue

Much was written about bullying during 2012, and RDH weighed in too.

“It started with the small things. First, they snickered and whispered to one another whenever she was around, refused to tell her how the doctors liked their appointments booked, and told her the wrong fees for the procedures. When she asked questions, they huffed and puffed and rolled their eyes.”

  • “The new world,” by Shirley Gutkoswki, RDH, July 2012 issue

The “new world” mainly pertains to a discussion about probiotics. But the author took a swipe at traditional patient education by pointing at the brain.

“The brain is plastic in that it’s moldable and new pathways can be built, which is a process called neurogenesis. Providing the brain opportunities for neurogenesis is important to brain health. It turns out that playing Sudoku doesn’t stimulate brain fitness; it helps a person become really good at Sudoku. It is kind of like telling patients to brush ‘n’ floss the same way over and over — you become really great at explaining the mechanical removal of plaque.”

  • “Another ‘View’ of dental hygiene,” by JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, August 2012 issue

The dental hygiene section of DentistryIQ.com followed the reaction to ABC’s “The View” portrayal of the profession this year. Gurenlian, a columnist, led the way for the magazine.

“Apparently, telling the story of education does not really have the profound impact one would hope to achieve. Despite the best public relations efforts, we are not getting out the word that we are as important as other health care professionals. While some view us as robotic, we perceive ourselves as caring providers who consciously think about the dental hygiene process of care while we are working with our patients. ... Yet, once again, we have been reduced to non-thinking teeth cleaners.”

  • “Diversion and addiction,” by Noel Kelsch, RDHAP, September 2012 issue

Unfortunately, substance abuse occurs within the profession. Kelsch used the testimony of “Mary” to reinforce her points.

“Between patients I would go into the restroom and use the toilet tank to do a line of cocaine. I would meet my dealer during my lunch hour and return to work. It would soften those emotional feelings and allow me to just feel ‘normal’ for a moment. I was never comfortable unless I was high. No one ever asked me at work if I was high, so I thought obviously I am not like the rest. I can work and be high and be just fine. But it was getting to the point that I was calling in with excuses more than I was coming in. I don’t know how many times one of my relatives died or one of my kids was sick, but I was a good liar. I still cannot believe I was giving injections and working on patients while high, but at the time I could justify anything that I did.”

  • “Why faculty should be involved,” by Christine Nathe, RDH, October 2012 issue

Her second reason for dental hygiene faculty to add a clinical practice is as follows.

“Secondly, it would provide ample opportunity for faculty to stay current in clinic practice. Many times dental hygiene faculty do not continue to practice clinically. Do we want medical students learning from doctors who haven’t practiced in 20 years? If the answer is no, why would we want dental hygiene students learning from dental hygienists who have not practiced for 20 years?”

  • “Creative financing,” by Anne Guignon, RDH, November 2012 issue

There are these, uh, advertisers, who want to sell you stuff. Authors frequently suggest that dental hygienists need to make investments in their careers with big purchases. I don’t think we spend much time telling you how to buy the stuff. Guignon did.

“A growing number of hygienists want to buy products without having to go through a dentist. Consider using a regional dealer if a national company does not want to sell products directly to you. Smaller dental dealers often have more flexible policies. Companies that sell direct often have interest-free payment plans for larger purchases, spreading the financial impact over a period of time. These plans require a down payment with a credit card, followed by a series of auto-payments.”

Mark Hartley
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All of the articles discussed in the “Editor’s Note” can be viewed at www.rdhmag.com. We recommend searching by the author’s last name. Even if the author is a frequent contributor, a 2012 article should not be too far down the list of search results.

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