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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Getting in shape—or a variety of shapes

Once I turned 45, I realized my average figure wasn’t going to maintain itself on its own. I have always been pretty active and healthy. I truly believe that our muscles get bored with the same exercise routine.

Thanks to Peter Gangi, I was basically guilted into taking a spinning class. Those of you that know me know that I don’t do anything halfway. If you decide to try this kind of exercise, pace yourself or you will have a hard time sitting down for a few days.

Yoga…how hard can it be? Kristy Menage Bernie promised me at Career Flow that anyone can do the one legged tree pose. I don’t know what kind of trees they have in California, but my pose looks more like leaning sage brush. I will persevere.

Next is the Pilates class. I’m strong. One-pound weights are for sissies. How was I to know that 3-pound weights can really make the triceps ache?

Today I went to my orthopedic MD for a cortisone injection in my heel. Plantar fasciitis is a force to be reckoned with.

That’s my “in shape update,” and I just want to thank Peter and Kristy for motivating me to get going.

Welcome to my life.

Treating the teacher

Remember how nervous we were in dental hygiene school about the ideal of actually starting patients? I had the hardest time going from typodont to a “real” patient. Cheeks and lips are a fact of life, so we had to learn work around them. We were taught to have an internal fulcrum and I never thought I would deviate from that standard.

Fast-forward 23 years: I find myself using the chin to fulcrum with great ease. I didn’t give this too much thought until last week. One of my favorite senior clinical instructors from hygiene school was scheduled in my room for a prophy. I was a little nervous but did my best to remember each and every thing she taught me about patient position, posture and yes…even the fulcrum.

I think the world of this particular instructor. She didn’t critique my skills or mannerisms—she didn’t have to. I was taught by one of the best. Mrs. K, you’re a real gem and I am proud to have been one of your students. Thank you for making a difference. Enjoy your retirement.

Welcome to my life.

Treating overdue patients

We’ve had quite a few new patients this past month. Many have stated that they are getting their taxes back and now have the finances to go to the dentist. Needless to say, many of these people are overdue for treatment.

There are different philosophies regarding the best treatment for a patient with moderate to heavy calculus who is way overdue for their preventive prophylaxis. I rarely try to accomplish the entire prophy in one appointment. Personally, I prefer to do a gross debridement if the patient isn’t too sensitive and the calculus isn’t too tenacious. I then reappoint for an additional scaling and possible root planing. Other times, gross debridement is not an option, and quadrant root planning is performed.

We have a wonderful typodont from Kilgore where one half of the mouth is healthy the other half is perio involved. The gingiva is removable to show the bone level to the patient. This is a great visual aid and it has really motivated my patients. I can easily explain pockets, calculus and furcations. I like to show my patients the difference in a healthy mouth verses a diseased mouth.

Each patient presents with different needs. Therefore, each patient will have a different treatment plan. Don’t get into the rut of treating everyone the same way. Patients trust you with a very intimate, sensitive part of their body. Do the right thing.

Welcome to my life.

Ultrasonic Convert

I use my ultrasonic scaler on almost every patient. I didn’t used to, but after attending a continuing education class by Anne Guignon, let me say: Girl, you have rocked my world!

Eileen, the other dental hygienist at my office, won a slimline, swivel Hu-Friedy cavitron tip as a door prize at the IDHA annual session last September. We couldn’t sterilize it fast enough. We actually were calling dibs on who got to use it next. Since then, we have ordered two more of the exact insert.

Ann, we thank you for making our work easier. I look forward to visiting with you in Albuquerque.

Welcome to my life.

Ortho Options

I have many ortho patients. A few are very proficient with flossing, but most are mediocre at best. I remember how tough it was to brush thoroughly with braces and flossing was pretty much skipped.

Some things don’t change, but luckily, new products are being introduced all the time. For example, Oral-B Super Floss is a great floss/threader in one. I personally use Super Floss for my bridge—and love it!—but not everyone is willing to purchase it when their sample runs out.

Last year at ADHA annual session, I was introduced to a new product called Floss Fish. These little, plastic, fish-shaped devices work great. My floss-resistant son even likes to use them. There are lots of fish in the sea, and these are keepers!

I recently had a local orthodontist as a patient. He was scheduled to get braces himself and wanted to get ‘cleaned up’ before the appliances were placed. After reviewing his medical history, I looked over his dental history and habits. He currently flossed twice a week—on a good week. I had to let him know that that frequency was not going to work for me. I made him a deal that if he tries faithfully to floss 3 to 4 times per week, he would stay in my good graces.

Welcome to my life.