Director's Message: Let's stop using the 'c' word

May 5, 2015

The loss of a woman, mother, wife, and leader of dental hygiene: Irene Woodall, RDH PhD

“To prepare ourselves, our patients, and our entire dental team for the rapid evolution, we need to stop defining what we do as ‘cleanings.’ Call it ‘dental hygiene care,’ ‘assessment and prevention,’ ‘preventive periodontal care,’ ‘supportive periodontal care,’ ‘continuing care,’ or ‘comprehensive dental hygiene care,’ but let’s stop using the ‘c’ word.” — Quote from Irene Woodall’s column in the August 1992 issue of RDH magazine

Irene Woodall, as she appeared in a 1989 RDH cover

A few weeks ago, this world lost the dear soul of Dr. Irene Woodall. For the readers who are not as familiar with Dr. Woodall and all that she did for our profession, you owe it to yourself to take a few minutes and click on the links provided, so you better understand who she was and the incredible hygiene shoulders we all have the privilege to stand on so we can continue to move onward and upward.

I will never forget meeting her in 1992 when she spoke for the New Hampshire Dental Hygienists’ Association. Her words continue to have a profound impact on me and my journey as not only a dental hygienist but as a woman leader. Her spirit was so bright you felt her mentorship and guidance, not only when in her presence, but also through her monthly messages as the editor of RDH magazine. (I have all original RDH magazine columns in a folder.)

I feel that Irene didn’t wait for life, but that she went went out and made life. So I ask that the next time you find yourself talking to a patient, colleague, dentist, or anyone, and you are about to use the “c” word to describe what you do or a service you provide, pause and choose another word. Together, we can not only begin to erase that word from our vocabulary, we can further move our profession and the oral health of our patients forward.

Let’s continue to honor Dr. Woodall together.

“A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand.” ― Ankita Singhal

Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, MSEC
Director, RDH eVillage