insulting statements to hygienists

April 19, 2011
Readers respond to Kristine Hodsdon's Director's Message about the things that opponents say about the dental hygiene profession that make you reply, "Give me a break!"

In her April 5, 2011, Director’s Message, Kristine Hodsdon shared the experience of listening to opponents of the relaxation of supervision requirements for dental hygiene say things like:

  • "What if they (dental hygienists) have a bad hair day?"
  • "Hygienists are like the caddy to Tiger Woods."
  • "Dental hygiene is so easy a monkey could do it."

The experience led her to develop a short survey in the same issue regarding the “politics” surrounding the dental hygiene profession.

Although the response rate was low (only 101 readers participated), the results were interesting, including the question: What comments have you heard spoken or uttered by opponents of dental hygiene that make you say, “Give me a break”?

However, three other questions also provided some interesting insights.

When you hear opponents state claims against the dental hygiene profession, even when belittling or derogatory comments are made, do you understand their opposition to dental hygiene?

  • 56% chose the option of “No, the derogatory comments affect my ability to understand their reasoning.”
  • 40% chose the option of, “Yes, and I tend to disagree with their perspective.”
  • 3% chose the option of, “Yes, and I tend to agree with their perspective.”

If a regulatory body was unable to reach a majority consensus on regulation of dental hygienists, and the deciding vote was turned over to your employer, how would he/she vote?

  • 57% chose the option of, “He/she would vote in favor of dental hygiene to enhance the delivery of care.”
  • 23% chose the option of “He/she doesn't care about the delivery of care outside his/her dental practice and would tell the regulatory agency, ‘Go find someone else to vote!’”
  • 20% chose the option of “He/she would oppose utilizing dental hygiene to enhance the delivery of care.”

In your workplace, who is the most sympathetic, supportive person to what you do as a dental hygienist?

  • 37% chose the option of “the dentist/employer.”
  • 21% chose the option of “no one.”
  • 17% chose the option of “a member of the front office staff or office manager.”
  • 14% chose the option of “chairside dental assistant.”
  • 10% chose the option of “a non-employee who is very involved with the practice, such as a spouse.”

Altogether, 79 readers shared “comments” by opponents of dental hygiene that make them say, “Give me a break!” Here is a sampling of those comments:

  • "You only want independent practice."
  • “The hygiene association only represents a small minority of hygienists.” (I'd like to say, "And how many do you represent?")
  • "Are you training to be a dentist?"
  • “It is not brain surgery.”
  • “Anyone can be trained to do your job in 20 minutes.”
  • “Dental hygienists are the garbage men of the mouth.”
  • "I am going to be a hygienist so I can make a lot of money and just sit in an air conditioned office all day."
  • "You're highly overpaid for what you do.”
  • "It's just a cleaning." That comment infuriates me.
  • "We're spoiling hygienists nowadays!" (Said by a group of dentists-to-be.) "Is there really a difference between hygiene and dental assisting? (Same source)
  • “Dental hygiene is really easy; they barely graduated from high school.”
  • “If you can find somewhere else to work, I can pay my next hygienist 25% less. So go ahead and look, it's okay with me.”
  • “What's the big deal about hygienists? They're just picking on the teeth.”
  • “Hygienists are not able to diagnose.”
  • "My assistant could do your job just as well."
  • “Get rid of those hygiene leaders and educators who have led your profession to this sad state of affairs.”
  • "Anyone can clean teeth blindfolded.”
  • “It's a lot of money to earn for two simple years of college.”
  • "I just went to a seminar about careers for women. You make way too much money for cleaning teeth."
  • "Do you hope to go back to school someday so you can work with the doctor like the dental assistant?"
  • “What will they do if there is a medical emergency?” (Same training as you, and call 911.)
  • “Concerning the licensure of dental hygienists to do anesthesia, an assistant said to me. 'If I saw a hygienist coming at me with a needle, I would run the other direction.’”