Because your magazine is so honest and forthcoming regarding the difficult and pressing issues of the dental hygiene profession, I thought I would write concerning another issue that periodically rears its head. It concerns the corporations who manufacture toothpaste and other oral home-care products. Most of them continually ignore or slight us as the main professional who is concerned with the patient`s oral home care and the products they use. If we are ever to be recognized as a profession among the general public, we need to exert more pressure to be given our just recognition in the eyes of these corporations when they put out their advertising in writing or on TV, as well as sending samples of new items.
We also could do a much better job of educating the public about our profession by continually submitting short articles to magazines and newspapers, informing people about just what a dental hygienist is, what the education requirements are, and that we must be licensed to practice. There are still millions of people who do not know the difference between the dental hygienist and a dental technician or assistant. I explain this to many of my patients who often are confused about it.
A recent case in point was a mailing of trial samples of a home-care product in miniature dispensers just like the full-size ones. These were sent to our dentist, so I called to request some. I was first told that these samples were only for "MDs." I then asked to talk to a supervisor and was given another number to call. This person told me the samples were only for the dentists. I explained that I was a dental hygienist and, as such, was the one who recommends toothpaste and gives samples to the patients, whereas the dentist rarely, if ever, recommends a particular brand of anything ? all to no avail. I have subsequently written a letter to the manufacturer to protest their ignoring of our profession.
Some years ago, a toothpaste manufacturer had an ad on TV that ignored us, and some of us called to protest. Later, I read in one of our journals that this was a pretty widespread complaint. We not only got it rectified, but I can say that now the manufacturer is the best company giving credit to the hygienist and sending us many free educational materials as well as free samples.
Let?s band together and strive to educate these companies and the public so our profession will be recognized more readily and we can gain the needed recognition we deserve. This will help us keep the educational standards high as we keep fighting to maintain and raise these standards and achieve independent governance and a viable profession.
Mary S. Keegan, RDH, BSDH