With the downturn of the economy, I am hearing daily of someone else losing their job as a clinical dental hygienist, as the dentist is performing his/her own dental hygiene procedures. It makes us reflect on just how much of an asset we are to the dentist business owner. Are we concerned with the patient’s oral and overall health, and do we practice the dental hygiene process of care? In order to increase the bottom line, our care must be excellent and evidence based. If we develop relationships with our patients, they will come back to see us again and again. Good relationships with our patients and our co-workers are a key to success. Do you consider what you do a “job” or your profession? One hallmark of a true profession is its willingness to assume responsibility for the quality of care that its members provide.(1) The Standards for Clinical Dental Hygiene Practice guide the individual dental hygienist’s practice.(1) The dental hygiene process of care includes assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. It encompasses all significant actions taken by dental hygienists, and forms the foundation of clinical decision-making. The dental hygiene process of care is now expanded to include a sixth component, documentation. I urge all of you to read this informative document, and share it with other dental hygienists.(1)A recent iData research report stated that In 2010, the U.S. market for dental hygiene and oral care was valued at over $1.6 billion.(2) This includes items such as: air driven dental handpieces, electric dental handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, dental lasers, prophylaxis angles and prophylaxis pastes, professional teeth whitening products, oral irrigators, dental mouth guards, professional fluoride products and digital caries detection devices. Within the dental hygiene market, companies such as Brasseler, DENTSPLY, KaVo, SS White, Discus Dental, and Ultradent led the market, along with many other companies, according to iData Research. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of market revenues by device type, market forecasts through 2017, and other information. The report states that there will be continued growth in the fluoride varnish market and professional take-home whitening systems market. You can sign up for these research reports, which are expensive, but you can usually obtain a free synopsis’s from the website.(3)Colleen Rutledge, RDH, will enlighten us about the “Loss Leader Myth.” She will show us how to uncover the untapped potential in your hygiene department and transform a $100 prophylaxis into a $1,000 non-surgical periodontal therapy case. Colleen also teaches us about locally applied antimicrobials and how to treatment plan non-surgical cases from a periodontal chart. Colleen discusses "tiering" of fees and codes for locally-applied antimicrobials, and what that means. In her courses, she reviews case studies so her students can see how other practices have incorporated more periodontal procedures within their existing patient base and ultimately changed their bottom line. For more information, visit Colleen’s website.(4) Stacy McCauley, RDH, MS, will teach us about "Screenings During Dental Hygiene Appointments.” Stacy highlights three different screenings--blood pressure screening, the extraoral exam, and the intraoral exam. I am sure you will find her article very informative. For additional information, visit Stacy’s website.(5) Kimberly Miller, RDH, BSDH, RDHMP, has been keeping dental hygienists apprised of current research and implementation solutions through her speaking and the website PerioFrogz. Along with Rich Nagelberg, DDS, they created PerioFrogz. Where did they get this name? After a course the participants were given a “math problem.” Five frogs are sitting on a log, two decide to jump off. How many frogs are left on the log? The answer is not three, it is five… because two decided to jump off and while deciding is important it accomplishes nothing. It is about what we do that makes a difference. Deciding is not enough; jump and join the PerioFrogz! Visit the website to obtain research summaries, articles, patient education, and much more! (6)In the last section, I am sharing some information I discovered based on a recent article in the New York Times on the Wisdom of Having That Tooth Removed. It is a personal story, but relates how scientific evidence supporting the routine prophylactic extraction of wisdom teeth is surprisingly scant. Experts from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons’ (AAOMS) refute this, and say that most likely 75 to 80 percent of people do not meet the criteria of being able to successfully maintain their wisdom teeth. Another expert said that approximately 60 to 70 percent of patients with wisdom teeth will eventually have trouble with them, but he recognizes that data is limited and dentists make decisions based on the best information they have. Read the article and make you own decision.
And last, but not least, we must always remember those that have suffered due to the 9/11 tragedy. We should also recognize and remember the heroes, including the 4-legged heroes. And remember, “be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some kid of battle.” -- James M. Barrie
1. ADHA STANDARDS FOR CLINICAL DENTAL HYGIENE PRACTICE. www.adha.org/downloads/adha_standards08.pdf.