Readers' Forum

Sept. 1, 2004
After reading the From The Podium column about Michelle Darby in my most recent RDH (July 2004), I wanted to write you. I graduated from Hudson Valley Community College in 1969...

A letter about professional rebirth

Dear RDH:
After reading the From The Podium column about Michelle Darby in my most recent RDH (July 2004), I wanted to write you. I graduated from Hudson Valley Community College in 1969, and I have practiced clinical hygiene for more than 20 years. During those 20-plus years, I eventually grew discouraged and burned out.

I toyed with the idea of going back to school, but the prospect of studying and writing papers did not thrill me at all. I would go to continuing education classes and hear many of my sister hygienists moan and complain about all the things I was moaning and complaining about. Very few of us, including me, belonged to our professional association.

Things continued to go downhill for me. I was discouraged, hated going to work, and, although I always gave 100 percent to my patients, my attitude concerning hygiene suffered. Things came to a head on a Friday when I was let go from my job without notice or severance.

The following Wednesday, I attended a continuing education course at SUNY Farmingdale. Following the class, I approached the instructor and asked her if she could advise me where to go to find out my options in the field. She directed me to the head of the dental hygiene department. Professor Judith Friedman encouraged me to pursue a BSDH there at Farmingdale. So, after much consideration and prayer, I bit the bullet, applied, and was admitted to the program.

I'm here to say it is the best decision I ever made! Going back to school after 35 years is a blast and so much better than it was right out of high school. I now have completed 20 hours toward my bachelor's degree and am maintaining (with God's help) a 4.0 GPA. Even writing the papers is exciting. Upon learning that I didn't have to spend hours in a library to do research, but could make Google my best friend and do all my research from home, I knew that getting a bachelor's was do-able.

I have made so many awesome friends and contacts of all ages. I am loving the new opportunities that are opening up for us, have learned the singular importance of hygiene solidarity through ADHA, and am now aware of the tremendously important issues facing our profession such as preceptorship and self-regulation. (Both raise my blood pressure ... 50 mg metoprolol, 2x/day).

In the very first class I took, Current Issues in Dental Hygiene, I made a statement in one of my presentations that I have believed all my years as a hygienist. I said, "I believe I have a responsibility to leave the profession of dental hygiene a little bit better than when I first started." By reaching higher and farther than I thought I could, it's my goal to do just that. To my sister hygienists I say, "You go, girls!"

Take a risk! You can do it! No matter what your age and experience, you are a promise and a possibility of things to come! You are the future of dental hygiene."
Kathie A. Urena, RDH
Northport, New York

Scheduling solution

Dear RDH:
First of all, I really enjoy reading the Staff Rx columns (by Dianne Glasscoe, RDH) as they definitely relate to all dental hygienists at some time in their careers. Staying on time with your schedule (topic of July 2004 column) is the "stressor" of all but there is a workable and simple solution!

I work in a dental practice where the dentist is very busy, seeing as many as 20 patients in an eight-hour day. This is possible with a well-coordinated team. Traditionally, the dentist would "pop-in" for a quick exam during the hygiene appointment. In our office, the patient's yearly exam is scheduled into the doctor's schedule — separate from the hygienist's schedule — and the assistants take the needed digital X-rays. Patients feel that they get the full attention of the doctor as well as the time needed for a thorough exam. That is how easy it can be to relieving this "stressor" in a hygienist's day!

During the exam, Dr. Halbleib uses the intraoral cam-era when addressing his findings to his patients. Needless to say, the patient-acceptance rate of treatment needed is much higher when the re-care exam is handled in this manner, allowing the hygienist to continue in his or her pursuit of an optimal periodontal management program.
Judy Koningh, BSDH
Santa Cruz, California

Prevention is important to chiropractors too

Dear RDH:
The article, "Benefits of Pilates," in the June 2004 issue was a little misleading. I'm glad to hear that Pilates is helping Kelli. No doubt it has helped many people gain core strength, as well as keep them in touch with their mind-body connection. Since I am a competitive cyclist and endurance athlete, I am very aware of how core strength should be, and is, an essential part of keeping your spine in alignment.

However, I disagree with the notion that one should no longer see a chiropractor. Yes, muscles get stronger and are able to allow the spine not to go into a vertebral subluxation complex as quickly, but it still can and will. (Vertebral = concerning the vertebral bones of the spine. Sub = Less than. Luxation = A dislocation of a joint. Complex = more than one part.)

Subluxation describes what happens when spinal bones lose their normal position and motion from stress, trauma, or chemical imbalances. There is nothing that can stop subluxation from happening. Not even Pilates or the strongest muscles. Everything causes subluxation, including sneezing, getting in and out of the car incorrectly, reaching for something, being born, bending, turning, sweeping, lifting incorrectly, car accidents, falling, sitting for long periods, financial worries, and toxic environments. Every day activities can stress your spine. No one is immune.

I relate it to periodontal disease. Even though you may see pocket depths decrease and no longer have bleeding upon probing, it doesn't mean patients should no longer see their hygienist.

People really don't understand the reason for chiropractic care. They only see chiropractors when they are not feeling well.

The reality of it is, if you saw the chiropractor routinely, he/she would most likely have prevented many ailments such as cumulative trauma disorders, which is often associated with dental hygiene.

Your chiropractor is primarily interested in detecting, reducing, and preventing the vertebral subluxation complex. Just as brushing and flossing your teeth can prevent expensive dental work, regular chiropractic checkups help avoid the expense of having to correct preventable problems. Everyone should see their chiropractor on a regular basis, just as we would agree that everyone should see their hygienist on a regular basis.

Kelli's muscle fatigue with her back and neck needed attention, and Pilates along with chiropractic care managed that. One still needs to keep their bones in alignment, though, because subluxation will occur when you don't even know it. Seeing your chiropractor will make sure you don't develop that spine in a mal-position by strengthening it when it's been in subluxation for a long period of time.

I am only saying this to help and to clarify things. In cycling, our trunk muscles are a critical component of riding so we naturally need to develop muscle and core strength. Do I see my chiropractor on a monthly basis? You bet I do! Sometimes more if I've experienced a fall. In dental hygiene, we experience many ailments that may be relieved by the time we get home, but I still see my chiropractor for prevention purposes, which is a word hygienists should be very familiar with.

After enduring many cycling crashes, and suffering through a cumulative trauma disorder (recovering without surgery), I feel that physical therapy and Pilates in conjunction with chiropractic care is the key to a healthy spine. Needless to say, the article disappointed me because it led us to believe that people don't need to see their chiropractor as long as they do Pilates, and that could be the furthest thing from the truth.
Meg McNeely, RDH
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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