Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dental Hygenists - The Ugly Truth

Wow. I have come across the BEST rant about dental hygenists: Dental Hygenists - The Ugly Truth.  (Oh, sorry, they claim it's "not" a rant.)

It's basically a person going off about how hygenists have barely any schooling, "A 7-year old can learn the same amount of information from reading a Sesame Street book on dental hygiene," but act like they know everything because they have big egos. Hygenists clearly don't claim to have as much schooling as doctors, but depending on the state/province we have 2-3 years of schooling that involves microbiology, pharmacology, radiography, and local anaesthesia to name a few.

Then the person starts talking about getting conflicting information on how stiff or soft their gums are. Well, sorry to tell them, at least in Canada there isn't a "gum stiffness" score. The measurements we do on gums are the amount of recession and probing depths, to determine whether or not they have gum disease, what kind and to what severity.

I understand that people don't like to be lectured, and some hygenists probably go about it the wrong way, but personally, when I teach my patients the best way to brush and floss it's because I want them to have healthy gums in able to keep their teeth as long as possible, ideally for life. If I do it, it's because there are visible signs in their mouth, either large amounts of plaque that aren't getting brushed or flossed away, or swollen, bleeding gums. And actually, NO, the majority of the population don't know how to brush their teeth properly, or haven't been taught yet, or I wouldn't try to help. Getting defensive isn't going to heal your gums.

Perhaps other hygenists bluff answers to your questions, but I encourage my patients to ask questions, and if I don't have the answer I'll ask the dentist and find out for them. Sometimes there isn't an exact answer to give, so I'll give one or two explainations for a problem.

I agree that a trip to the dentist should be a pleasant experience. And we do aim for it to be as painless as possible. If it hurts to get your teeth cleaned it's probably because there has been plaque sitting on the gums causing inflammation. And these inflammed gums are more prone to bleeding. The cleaner your teeth are the less it will hurt next time. This is another reason I like to demonstrate brushing/flossing technique... So cleanings are more comfortable to the patient. (And for severe cases we do offer freezing. )

It does help to be a "people person" as a hygenist... and I try to bond with the patient as well as possible, learn their individual needs, and address them. I'm always telling my clients that this is a team effort, I'll clean their teeth when they come in, answer any questions, keep them posted how their gums are doing, and show them how to clean them at home the best way possible. Then it's up to the patient what they want to do with the info.

If you feel you are being treated badly to your hygenist say something. And never be afraid to ask questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it made me too angry!!!! lol