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Dec. 3, 2010
Editor Mark Hartley shares some of his favorite passages from 2010 issuues of RDH magazine.

By Mark Hartley, Editor, RDH magazine

First of all, every December, I praise all of the authors who are published in RDH magazine for doing their very best to share thoughts and information with the magazine's readers. I am very proud of all of their efforts and remain grateful for their interests in writing for the dental hygiene profession.

As an editor, I do have favorites. I should point out that it's quite logical that we do not share opinions about what is our favorite article from 2010 publications. I'm an editor, and I look at writing somewhat differently. As a practicing dental professional, you have the different perspective of perhaps applying information directly into your professional life.

So, enjoy my favorite 2010 passages with that asterisk in mind. Please feel free to share your favorite sentences or "one-liners" from RDH below in the comment field.

With the exception of Bill Landers and Ma’rhya Kelsch, all of the authors referred to below are dental hygienists.

January 2010 RDH
Infection Control column: “Don't clip that crud on me”

I just never thought of bib chains as being the focal point of a horror movie. But columnist Noel Kelsch knows how to make the hair stand up on your neck.

  • She stood holding a bib chain in her hand, gently swirling it as I prepared lunch. We often brought the clip into the kitchen to save our street clothes from the ravages of baked ziti and the turbulence of tamale pie. I watched the chain go back and forth and realized that something was coming from it. On closer examination, we discovered that debris was falling from the balls that made up that chain.

To read the entire article above, click here.

January 2010 RDH
From the Edge column: “A fairy tale”

Lory Laughter’s version of the “Three Little Pigs” fairy tale has an alternative ending. I’m guessing everyone wants to be Pig #3, just in case the wolf comes to visit.

  • Finally, the wolf shows up with the fury of a tornado. No pig’s house is spared. When the storm is over, each pig assesses the damage. Pig #1 searches for her money. Pig #2 can’t find his computer database of dental hygiene acquaintances. Pig #3’s cell phone will not stop ringing with offers of shelter, food, and friendship.

To read the entire article above, click here.

February 2010 RDH
“Small talk, big business”

There’s a lot of grumbling about the detrimental effect of chat-n-polish hygienists in the profession. Did you know there’s a good reason for chatting? If not, Toni Adams offers the scientific reason why.

  • We think that shooting the breeze, chewing the fat, or having a gabfest is not as purposeful as “real” or “big” or more formal conversations that might mediate business transactions or convey “important” information such as patient education or treatment information. McCarthy studied small talk in service contexts (a visit to the hairdresser, a driving lesson) and concluded that it is not just incidental, it is important enough in these situations for people to work hard at. How can it be any less in a dental hygiene appointment where health is at stake? So formal conversation is not necessarily better or more important than informal conversation; both are significant but serve different purposes and both benefit all parties in a dental office.

To read the entire article above, click here.

February 2010 RDH
“The 5–W Process”

Anne Guignon is a columnist for RDH. She also writes feature articles from time to time, and “The 5-W Process” is a fine example of her work. Of far more importance to any writing she does, she also aids the homeless in Houston. This article describes a presentation to teenagers about her charity work.

  • I walked out on the stage as a homeless woman wearing grungy shorts, a dirty t–shirt under a torn long sleeved flannel work shirt, a tattered baseball cap, mismatched socks that were falling down around my ankles, and a beat up pair of men's size 12 athletic shoes. Rather than talk about the work we do with the homeless I started a monologue and pretended to be Annie, one of the invisible people who lives on the streets, sleeps in alleyways, eats at soup kitchens, and longs for a roll of toilet paper and a hot shower. As I told Annie's story, I mingled with the kids, pretending to strike up a conversation as if they were passing me on the street. I asked one girl to hold my faded stuffed canvas convention bag while I emptied Annie's life possessions into a young man's hands ...

To read the entire article above, click here.

March 2010 RDH
Staff RX column: “Hygiene Slum”

Dianne Glassoce Watterson’s column is more of a “Dear Abby” approach and does not leave much room for “creative” writing. But her anecdote in this column surely left some readers wondering if they could try a gentler approach to getting equipment for the operatory.

  • One office was very upscale with a beautiful building and stunning décor. I just knew everything would be first class. Unfortunately, the hygiene operatory could be best described as a slum with a drawer full of old, rusted, broken instruments, a manual–lift chair, and no cavitron. At first, I couldn't believe my eyes! My initial thought was that surely there were some better instruments somewhere, possibly the autoclave. No such luck! The only thing that saved me that day was that I had brought along two sets of my own instruments. At the end of the day, the doctor asked if everything went okay. Without being too demonstrative, I informed the doctor that he desperately needed some new instruments and a power scaler. I also told him that as much as I enjoyed meeting him and treating his patients, I would be unable to come back without the right armamentarium. Then he asked me if I would make a quick list of what was needed. He assured me he would order whatever was needed. I wondered if his reluctance to properly equip and supply his hygiene department was responsible for his former hygienist's departure. Actually, this doctor did follow through with purchasing instruments and a power scaler, and I temped for him many times over the years.
To read the entire article above, click here.April 2010 RDHPeriodontal Therapy column: “Dentisha's debut”This is actually an illustration, not quoted text. But I was impressed with the characters developed for this video game for oral health.
To read the entire article above, click here.April 2010 RDHInfection Control column: “Lost socks and instrument cassettes”Who has not lost a sock to the beast known as the dryer? Noel Kelsch has, and the experience led her to reminisce about missing dental instruments.
  • While rummaging through a sewing box filled with buttons, bows, and zippers, I finally found it! A tiny pink sock with blue grosgrain ribbon crocheted on the edge. The sock had been missing for almost 25 years! It was supposed to be on my daughter’s foot, making a matching pair for her first day of kindergarten. Socks have always driven me crazy. I am sure there is some mystical force at the back of the dryer that sucks socks into a black hole in space. Dental instruments have been a lot like socks for me. I send them to the sterilization room and sometimes they end up in that same black hole in space.

To read the entire article above, click here.

May 2010 RDH
“Goodie Bags: An important part of any practice”

Cathy Hester Seckman devoted a whole article to goodie bags for patients. Yes, goodie bags. Her opening paragraph was a nice beginning to an informative (yes, informative) article about the giveaways given to patients.

  • If you’re like me, you’ve been handing out goodie bags to patients since the first day of your first job. The goodie bag is as ubiquitous as prophy paste in most dental offices. Patients expect them, practice owners are used to providing them, and hygienists fill them by the hundreds.

To read the entire article above, click here.

June 2010 RDH
From the Edge column: “Communicating outside your circle of friends”

As someone who is hearing impaired, Lory Laughter’s description of misunderstood statements made me laugh. Been there, done that.

  • My oldest son has a slight hearing difficulty from serving more than once in a war zone. While the situation is not funny at all, the things he thinks he hears has been a source of laughter during family gatherings. Often, he is close to the actual statement, as when he heard, “You should buy a flute” instead of “Your dog is cute.” Other times he isn’t even close in interpretation. While visiting Michael in Colorado some years ago, I commented, “I’m feeling lethargic — going to blame it on the lack of oxygen.” Imagine my surprise at his response, “Mom, they don’t have Jack in the Box in Colorado, and you’re a vegetarian.”

To read the entire article above, click here.

June 2010 RDH
Periodontal Therapy column: “Powered brushing and recession”

Lynne Slim loves dogs. So do I. I’ve never had a dog criticize my attire either, unless it was a Halloween costume.

  • OK, I’ll admit it: I’m not always good at dressing for success. I enjoy following designer trends in women’s apparel, but when it comes to dressing myself, I need help. I recently entered a design boutique called “Sassy Ladies,” and, frustrated, I searched the racks for that new look. Sensing my frustration, a store employee whisked me around the entire store and helped me figure out what flattered my not-so-perfect figure. I left the boutique thoroughly satisfied and couldn’t wait to get home to model my clothes for my four miniature dachshunds. They know what looks good on me!

To read the entire article above, click here.

July 2010 RDH
“Name Calling”

Noel Kelsch teamed up with Ma’rhya Kelsch to discuss, literally, the slander we indulge in when we make fun of people because of their names.

  • Dave’s grandfather’s last name was Ferre. He was born on Valentine’s Day so, of course, his mother named him Valentine Ferre. Noel’s name is Joyous Noel because she was born on Christmas Day. She knows all the verses to “The First Noel” because it has been sung to her only a zillion times, and, yes, she hated her name as a child. Ma’rhya ... well, just look at the spelling ... gave up on expecting anyone to figure that one out a long time ago, although she always appreciates the effort when a new hygienist or front desk clerk attempts it.

To read the entire article above, click here.

July 2010 RDH
“Cinderella Hygiene”

Lynne Slim’s feature article about two independent practitioners in Colorado offered this interesting take on what to do with the non-compliant patient.

  • I sat in Edie’s dental chair to get a feel for the total experience. A beautiful oriental screen separates the operatory from the rest of the practice, and a delightful waterfall trickles away. A good sound system and mood music complete the atmosphere, and Edie won’t admit it but she’s a very talented interior designer. Taking into consideration the whole person, Edie is realistic when assessing patients. Instead of nagging someone to floss when she knows darn well a patient’s self-care measures won’t change, she recommends more frequent cleanings instead. Patients don’t want to be scolded, and they often come into the operatory with excuses prepared. As a testament to the individual attention Edie provides her patients, those with 100% preventive coverage pay cash at the time of service.

To read the entire article above, click here.

July 2010 RDH
"The job interview"

Eva Watson went on a job interview and wrote about it. Nothing quite like a fired-up dental hygienist.

  • Then the dentist approached me. “Come on back.” My interview was beginning. It lasted two hours. The dentist and I talked about everything from our career goals to Invisalign to his color selection on his operatory walls. He was young, eager, and a new business owner. I liked his energy and plans for his practice, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to help. As soon as we sat down in his consultation room, I whipped out my notebook. “Is it okay if I ask questions and take some notes?” I already had my pen in hand. “Uh, sure,” he said. I don’t believe the dentist was prepared for my onslaught of questions.

To read the entire article above, click here.

August 2010 RDH
The Landers File column: “Trials, tribulations, and anecdotes”

Columnist Bill Landers’ discussion about the interpretation of clinical research reminded me of the old journalism days of listening to cops’ lament about differing versions of a car wreck from bystanders.

  • Which do you trust more — published trials, or what you see with your own eyes? Even though scientific studies may be much more rigorous and carefully controlled, we usually trust our own observations more. Why are we so willing to trust our own eyewitness observations over clinical trials? It’s difficult to accept, but eyewitness accounts and recollections are often wrong. We’re not nearly as good observers as we like to think we are. In 1998, Wells et al. studied the first 40 prisoners who were pardoned after DNA tests became available. In 90% of the cases, the sworn eyewitness testimony was wrong. To test the average person’s power of recollection, Cutler and Penrod conducted a controlled study in convenience stores. An actor, posing as a customer, would do something unusually memorable, such as paying in pennies. Later, the clerks were asked to identify the actor from mug shots. They were wrong 50% of the time.

To read the entire article above, click here.

August 2010 RDH
Oral Exam column: “Marijuana”

Nancy Burkhart’s discussion of a lesion associated with smoking the famous weed made me realize that RDH magazine, despite addressing substance abuse in previous issues, has never quite covered the topic of marijuana so thoroughly.

  • Your practice has treated Robert for the past 15 years, and you have watched him grow from a child into adulthood. He is now 22 years old, recently graduated from college, and is searching for a first job. Robert tells you that he has had some difficulty in the transition from college life to his new responsibility. You begin your oral cancer detection exam and notice some oral tissue changes — leukoplakia — on the left lateral border of the tongue. Robert was in for a maintenance appointment about a year ago, and you do not remember any lesions or concerns that were noted. So you check your recorded history for any evidence. You try to make a determination of what causes might produce such a lesion. With further questioning, Robert admits to using marijuana. He consumes no alcohol but tells you that he started using the marijuana in college on a regular basis with a group of friends. He reports smoking marijuana cigarettes daily.

To read the entire article above, click here.

September 2010 RDH
“I have breast cancer”

Cathy Hester Seckman’s article was not about any personal experience she had with the disease. She interviewed Sheri Kay, a cancer victim. Kay was performing missionary dentistry in Central America when she found, leading to the memorable quote below.

  • "I literally looked outside," Sheri recalled, "and I could see a line of hundreds of people. Some of them had slept in line two or three nights. They were waiting so long because they had so little access to quality medical and dental care. One woman there - and I'm not exaggerating - had come in with a tumor on her ovary that had been growing for seven years. I can't describe their state of health, and the level of patience they had as they waited. I knew that when I got home I'd be at the Cleveland Clinic within 24 hours. The disparity was amazing. How could I sit there and feel sorry for myself in the midst of where I was? How could I leave early?"

To read the entire article above, click here.

October 2010 RDH
“Convenience Store”

Karen Davis is a big believer in offering patients the home care products that you believe in. Her analogy to a similar experience with a dermatologist is worth noting.

  • Well, I'd like to share the reality of what happened with my next visit to the dermatologist, because it is probably not unlike some of our patients' experiences in our practices. By the time I returned for the doctor to examine how the site had healed, not only was I ready to purchase additional products for myself, but I also wanted to purchase the product for my daughter. Evidently, it is a popular product, because they ran out of it earlier in the day before my appointment. They reminded me, however, that I could purchase it online, or visit one of the two pharmacies that kept it in stock. So I left the appointment empty-handed, but with good intentions. Upon leaving the dermatologist's office, the reality of going to some other place to purchase the product, or remembering to order it online once I got home, became a low priority. I didn't actually follow through for several weeks. This experience taught me that I want to provide products for added convenience, increase patient compliance as a result of using the products, and I want to make sure I keep an adequate inventory stocked, so that I don't run the risk of disappointing a patient looking forward to making a purchase during their regularly scheduled visit.

To read the entire article above, click here.

November 2010 RDH
“The long and winding road”

Heidi Emmerling and Ellen Standley wrote an article about California dental hygienists’ long road to self-regulation. The article included this reference to a pioneer in the state.

  • Anne Wells Hunnicutt was inspired to open her own practice in Santa Barbara. An author of three self-published books on independent practice, she saw her first patient in 1977. Hunnicutt practiced for 15 years as an independent dental hygienist. During that time, she treated 3,000 patients. She recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Hunnicutt said, "Even though I am retired, I remain active in the community, and I still love dental hygiene."

To read the entire article above, click here.