Registered Dental Hygienists Appreciation Week

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

This week, I need to brag on the ladies working in our dental practice who have a RDH diploma. You are probably not aware of the wide array of skills they have mastered as well as performing routine dental cleanings. I am not sure that is the right way to term a dental prophylaxsis, as they are as varied as any other dental procedure. The art is tailoring the correct therapy with the proper diagnosis and then being adroit enough to perform the skills necessary to achieve the proper result. Not as easy as you might think! But the highly skilled professionals are drawn to the profession because first and foremost, they are patient advocates. Assisting their patients in achieving better health is always foremost in their intentions. Being in the health care arena means that dealing pleasantly with every type of person can present challenges that only clinicians with an outgoing personality and a caring heart can display. And these ladies have skills, intelligence and personality up to the sky. I am so proud to be associated with them as they have worked in their field for decades and having a skilled hygienist with experience is the key to getting a sound diagnosis. It also is the key to treatment where a great result is achieved. Educating you as a patient helps to have you own the ability to care for your diagnosis and treatment, and the majority of their interaction with you is using their experience to have you see how you can achieve oral health through their educating you and understanding the process to better achieve health. I cannot emphasize experience, knowledge and caring enough.

The daily challenge within a dental practice is to provide exceptional care in a timely manner. Dental laws within North Carolina require that a hygienist work under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Therefore, a hygienist is always needing a dentist to act as a co-therapist in treating our patients. Because a dentist will always have his or her own schedule to treat, a hygienist might be waiting longer than she would like in order to move onto the next patient. I try not to make my hygienist wait too long for me to see their patient, but sometimes, it cannot be avoided. I have never seen any of my dedicated professional hygienists cut corners in treating their patients whenever they run behind. They sometimes work behind schedule, or work through lunch or stay late. But they constantly and reliably treat every patient interaction as if they were family. They truly are an amazing group of professionals.

Bonnie Lott, RDH was my first employee when I opened the practice back in August of 1996 and she has been with me since. She has her baccalaureate, is an amazing mother and is currently putting her daughter through East Carolina University. Tracey Perry Johnson, RDH joined us in April of 1997 and is a Pine Forest/Spring Lake native through and through. She and her husband, Mike have raised two fine boys and still live here in Spring Lake. Angela Weaver Blake, RDH is my victory story. I knew she was a long time hygienist for another Spring Lake dentist and I had always heard from patients who had been treated by her how amazing she was and much they loved her. I successfully wooed her to come to our practice in 2007. My group was complete when Shannon Sutton, RDH came to us in 2009, with her infectious smile and amazing creativity. All experienced ladies with tremendous skills. During this week where we aim to appreciate their efforts, our practice would like to say, “Thank you for all that you do!”