Sunday, November 13, 2016

Flying by!

Wow, is it me or has this year just FLOWN by!? I had so many plans to keep up with this blog but got in the way. I'm pregnant with baby #4 and haven't felt so great for half of the year. I'm due after Christmas and then a whole new whirl wind will begin!

I did want to hit a few topics in this post and reconnect with my readers out there. A lot of you send me messages asking about how to get into hygiene school, advice on what instruments to use, and advice on how to get a job. I've written a few posts specifically for these topics so scroll back a ways and you can find what you're looking for. My biggest word of advice is be CONFIDENT! Don't confuse this with arrogance...there's often a fine line and you need to find it so you don't cross it. If you're worried about getting a job as a new hygienist, practice interviewing with someone or in front of a camera and see how you come across when answering questions. I want to reiterate that just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you're not just as valuable as a seasoned hygienist. Yes, they have more experience BUT you will get there too. Be kind to yourself and recognize where you need to improve. Do not go into a new office with the "Queen Bee" attitude. Assistants wont like you and therefore wont help you...this will hinder you as a new hygienist because assistants can be invaluable to you throughout your career. They usually know the office far better then you ever will and they might know the doc better then you ever will. So having them on YOUR side is in your favor.

Secondly...about a year ago I won a sharpen free instrument from American Eagle. (What I'm about to say is in NO way endorsed by this product...just my honest review). If you are a new hygienist I would really consider investing (or asking your DDS to invest) in a few of these instruments. They're pretty amazing. After a year of having it (I've babied it a in I don't use it often, just on extremely heavy patients and SCRP) it is still quite sharp. It is NOT as sharp as when I first received it but it is the sharpest instrument we have in the office and that's with my fellow hygienist being a sharpening guru! This has saved my bacon on several occasions. Having a sharp instrument is SO SO important!! And as I mentioned, our instruments stay pretty sharp in our office, but this instrument is just incredible. I only have one (their curaler) and I wish I had a few others (like their blackjack, eagle claw and a curette!). So if you are new and feel like you're struggling to remove calculus, I think you might want to consider just 1 or 2 of these to start. See if they help you out, and if they do, fantastic!

Lastly: A lot of you out there are so afraid of applying to school or even applying to a program, in fear that you don't have what it takes or that you wont be able to balance family life. To this I say, you DO have what it takes and YOU CAN balance family life! It's all going to be ok. Don't take counsel from your fears! If this is something you want, you really can achieve it. Yes its hard, but guess what? YOU can do hard things!

If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done. 

Good luck to all of you! Please continue to send me questions and comments because I do love hearing from you! Even the repetitive questions I love! ;-) Keep em coming. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Years - Class of 2011!

I cannot believe it has been 5 years since I graduated from hygiene school! What a huge part of my life that I will never forget. I remember when I was going through school I felt like it would never end. I thought I would never find enough patients, never find hard enough patients, never know how to scale properly, never know how to probe, and never feel confident! Wow, am I amazed at the growth that has taken place in private practice. 

To those wanting to get into a hygiene program: keep applying, keep trying, keep studying, get good grades and don't give up! I waited 3 years to get in.

To dental hygiene students: This to shall pass. I promise this will all be over before you know it and you will come out the other side with a new sense of self-worth and pride. This is a refining process and teaches you what you are made of. It's tough, you study A LOT, you don't get a lot of nights out, you stress a TON, you hurt (physically), you cry, you feel bad about yourself, you feel great about yourself - what a roller coaster! It's so worth it at the end!

To new graduates: You got this. You just endured 2 years of a HARD program. You are MORE then capable of going out into the real world and getting things done - and getting them done well! Don't let someone make you feel like you don't know what you're doing because you're new - YOU GOT THIS! You DO know what you're doing. Yes, it's going to take a little while to get into the groove of private practice (yay to WAY shorter appointments and charting!) but don't be scared. Be confident. 

One day you'll look back and it'll be 5 years for you and you'll wonder where the time went. So grateful for my career and all that I've learned from the people I've worked with. I continue to learn everyday and try not to be too hard on myself when I don't have a good day. 

Thanks for the comments and the readers that go deep into my archives and read about my crazy hygiene days when I blogged for a I blog to help others understand what I do and why I do it and encourage anyone going through this journey too.  

Good luck! And congrats class of 2016!

Sunday, March 13, 2016


For those of you who don't know, I'm a mom to 3 kids and a part-time hygienist. I love my job/career, but I love being a mom more and being home with my kids as much as possible. THAT being said, I filled in for the other hygienist I work with and worked more days then usual last week. Can we say PERIO MADNESS PURSUED!! 

Half of my patients this past week had ACTIVE periodontal disease. Guess how many accepted my proposed treatment of a deep dental cleaning (scaling root planning)? ZERO. NADA. ZIP. NO ONE! I was feeling seriously rejected...despite my thorough education for the patient and telling them why I felt a deep cleaning was necessary, they just wouldn't accept! Most of them didn't even seem concerned! So is this normal? Unfortunately...yes, this is very normal.

How do you deal with this rejection? As a hygienist  you KNOW the only way to get these patients back to health is by doing a deep scaling! However, begging & pleading do no good. All you can do is inform your patient of the risks involved with no treatment and let them know you're concerned about their oral health. I then write a thorough note in their chart about what was discussed & proposed and that the patient ultimately refused and signed the refusal form.

I always do a "regular" cleaning on the patients that refuse the deep cleaning and I never try to sneak anything past them by doing a "mini" SC/RP on one or two teeth and then billing out for it. Honesty is the best policy for ME. I want my patients to trust me and know that I have their best interest at heart. I try to gain this trust a little at a time and by revisiting their "diagnosis" at each subsequent visit. I'll remind them "HEY remember 6 months ago when we talked about perio?? Well you still have it! It didn't just heal up on its I informed you that it wouldn't". ;-)

That being said I'm reminded of a story from this past week...I had a patient come in that I hadn't seen in over a year. The last time she had come in I had informed her of her active perio and had recommended SC/RP. She refused and I went about the normal cleaning but informed her that this wouldn't correct itself.

Fast forward a year later, when I see her again I ask how she is! And she informed me she went to a different dental office for her last cleaning and that they told her she actually didn't have perio! I said "Oh yeah?? Well since it's been a year I was planning on doing a full mouth probe on you today and I would love to see how everything is going!"

I then proceed in doing the FMP and guess what? SHE STILL HAS PERIO! And it had gotten worse. She had generalized 5-6mm pockets (last year they were 4-5mm) and generalized BOP (bleeding on probing). Her mouth and gums were a mess! :-( I then had the joy of informing her that my diagnosis from a year ago still stood and that she did indeed still have active perio. I felt like I had been put into an awkward situation though and needed to handle it gently and not accusatory whatsoever.

After the FMP, I sat her up and went over my findings with her and how they compared to her last appointment with me. She seemed very confused and upset (not at me...just in general) and stated that at her last appointment with the new office she hadn't felt they had done a thorough job...but was hoping they had been correct. She had come back to our office because the other place was pushy about procedures she had felt were unnecessary, but perio wasn't one of them! THAT being said...she still refused treatment for the deep cleaning! AHH!

Moral of this post? #rejection hurts...even in the dental chair.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Welcome 2016!!

Welcome any new readers and Thank You to those who return to read my "dental hygiene" blog on occasion! I have some topics in mind for the New Year and am excited to blog about them.  I hope this year brings you all happiness, adventure, and motivation to get things done! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I won!

Guys I'm so excited! I just won a sharpen-free XP Technology N137 “Curaler” by American Eagle Instruments through “Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH”! (I follow her on Facebook and love all of the articles and questions she posts).  This is a brand new instrument with a sickle on one end and a curette on the other.  It claims to be "sharpen free" and I am VERY excited to put it to the test!  I'll keep you posted on how it goes. 

I hope you all have had a wonderful 2015 and are ready to start a brand new year!  I know I am.  I love the hope and possibilities that a new year brings with it.  I've set a few goals for myself and am just excited for January to role in. 

Happy New Years Eve (eve)!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


When I was just starting out in dental hygiene school, instrumentation was brutal.  They give you a HUGE variety to choose from and want you to test each one out and gain an understanding for how to use it! (YIKES!)  I felt so overwhelmed. I remember thinking I would NEVER GET IT!  I wasn't even positive on how to use our curved explorer to check for calculus.  I felt discouraged.

At first I used the least intimidating a straight sickle.  I was hesitant to apply lateral pressure and didn't want to go subgingivally in fear of hurting my patient.  After a few months I began to realize that what I was choosing wasn't enough and I needed to be brave.  I began truly trying all of them...but I was still paranoid about "using the wrong end"!  I then was given the best advice!  The curved end of the instrument always adapts to the mesial of the tooth.  THERE IT WAS!  THE GOLDEN RULE FOR INSTRUMENTS!  "Adapt mesially".  Once this clicked I began to venture out and use all of my instruments.  Some I liked and others I didn't care for...but I was trying!  In school I very much stuck to the proper way to use an instrument and the proper place to use it...but as I have gained experienced in private practice I realize the right instrument to use is the one that gets the job done!  If I have to use the backside or the wrong end - so be it!  The key is ADAPTATION!  If you can adapt the instrument comfortably to the tooth/root surface and not cause damage to the gingiva, you're good to go.  The main objective of instrumenting is to REMOVE CALCULUS AND BIOFILM.

Of course I have settled on my favorite personal all time favorite is the Nevi **I want to be clear that I am in no way sponsored or endorsed by Hu-Friedy and I am not being paid to mention their product...I just love it!**

I have found the Nevi to be very versatile and able to adapt to pretty much any place in the mouth that I need it for.  It removes moderate to heavy calculus and is able to fit into tight contacts or areas with tight tissues.  Although it's recognized for being a posterior scaler it is easily adaptable to anteriors!  I use this instrument on adults and children. When I use other instruments to access calculus...I always go back to the nevi to fine scale and finish up.  It's my love.  (a bit dramatic I know...but seriously...I used to bring these to offices I temped in for fear they wouldn't have any!)  Another instrument I'm growing fonder of is the Gracey 3 / 4.  But its a gracey you say!  Perio only you say!  Wrong.  Remember what I said above?  The right instrument is the one that gets the job done.  This particular gracey has a way of sweeping the gingival margin of molars fabulously and although its an anterior site specific scaler, it gets the job done!

Now aside from hand scalers I utilize ultrasonic scalers on 90% of my patients.  I use a blended approach and almost always start with my ultrasonic to remove as much calculus and biofilm as possible.  I then fine scale with my hand instruments.  Some hygienist do not believe in using ultrasonics and I think that is absolutely silly!  Your worth as a hygienist is not determined by how much calculus you remove by hand!  Especially when the research is there to prove that ultrasonic instrumentation CAN remove all calculus (when used correctly) and does a great job! I recently went to a seminar that said a hygienist could and or should be using a ultrasonic for 90% of the cleaning!  This really resonated with me!  I've always felt like ultrasonics do a fantastic job and are actually quite comfortable for my patients.  Very few feel sensitivity during the procedure.  I have found that mostly the older generation do not like them (at first) due to them not understanding the research and advances of using this technology.  They are hesitant to accept that there are newer and better ways to do things then hand scaling alone.  And don't get me started on how important ultrasonics are for the clinician...repetitive hand movements is what have messed up many-a-hygienist!  When we are seeing 10-15 patients a day WE NEED to be using this technology!!  Stop feeling like you have something to prove by hand scaling the entire mouth for every patient.  :-)

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into instrumentation.  Feel free to comment and tell me your favorite instrument, WHY you love it and WHERE you use it!

Hygiene students BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF!  One day instrumenting will "click" for you and your anxiety will be gone as you move forward with confidence.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Your husband does what?

For all of you out there, I just wanted to put a smile on your face today!  My husband is a OB/GYN doc and many of my patients are learning this.

I had this convo with a patient yesterday:  **name has been changed of course**

Me: Hows your day going "Jane"??
Patient: Horrible...I have to be here and I'm going to the gynecologist next
Me: Oh yeah?? My husbands a gynecologist!
Patient: *Look of horror* Wow...what are the work at one end and he works at the other...
Me: It makes for great conversation every night!
Patient: Heaven help me

Have a great day everyone!