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Debbi Viger, RDH, BHS

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Debra Viger, RDH, BHS, has 30 years of clinical dental hygiene, dental office management, and treatment coordination experience. Embracing a complete approach to efficient dental office operations, she successfully encourages offices to work at peak performance levels with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. She is past president of McHenry County Dental Hygiene Society and past chair of continuing education. She has published in both RDH and Access Magazine.

Debra is currently a Director of Outreach, teaching daily home care techniques, nutrition for dental health, and desensitization for the developmentally delayed and autistic community. Through her program, she has demonstrated that all patients are special and need unique treatment options. This programming is easily shared including the video training. Reach out for further information to nviger8 [at] aol.com.

Botox Isn’t Just for Wrinkles Anymore: A Hygienist’s Experience with TMJ Treatment

Do you clench or grind your teeth? Wake up with headaches or stiff, tight muscles in your face? So many people are affected by the daily stress of life which can lead to clenching and grinding. Improper occlusion or airway issues can lead to bruxism and TMJ issues. Too much caffeine or too much gum chewing can lead to...

Manual Toothbrushes: How Hygienists Can Assist Patients Choose the Right One

As a dental hygienist, how are you choosing toothbrushes for dental patients? We all go for the obvious, should it be a manual, battery, or electric model. For some, manual brushes are the best option due to finances, patient preference, or because they have great efficacy with a manual brush. In my particular area of practice, greater than 90% are...

Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA): Not Just a Simple Number

What do we really know about toothpaste abrasion? I always thought the relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) was a key factor when choosing toothpaste for our patients, hoping that the amount of recession as well as the overall wear on enamel would be reduced. Shock! I was so wrong! The RDA was simply a test designed in 1976 to determine abrasion...

True Confession of a Less Than Ideal Bitewing

What’s your hygiene moment when you realize you have had an epic fail? Hopefully, none of you will ever have that experience, but I did, and I am on a mission to never let it happen again. Here’s the scenario, the patient presents for routine care. It’s a great appointment - everything status quo; health history reviewed, oral cancer...

Thyroid Cancer: Hygienist Survives Surgery and Recommends Dental Monitoring for Symptoms

WARNING: Graphic images contained in this thyroid cancer article. With limited appointment times and an increasing number of tasks to accomplish, dental hygienists may be tempted to skip the head and neck examination. Every dental hygiene procedure and treatment protocol seems necessary, and yet we still need to disinfect the operatory and prepare for the next patient. The lack of time...

A Child’s First Appointment: Hygienists Set the Tone for Lifelong Care

We all know that children need to have the best, most positive dental experience to ensure a fondness for a lifetime of dental visits. We want to help eliminate stress and apprehension for both the clinician, patient, and their families. The best way to accomplish this is to start early. With all expecting patients, take a few moments to discuss...

Dental Hygiene Ventures: Hygienist Finds Path in Nutritional Counseling

Dental hygienists who are lifelong learners, science nerds, and thrive on changes and challenges are amazed at what can be accomplished. Courtney Beth Anderson, RDH, a 2009 AAS graduate of Harper Community College in Palatine, Illinois, believes in going the distance with her career, and she is frequently undertaking new challenges. As a child with "bucky teeth," Courtney didn't smile...

Diagnostic Instruments: Choosing Dental Mirrors, Periodontal Probes, and Explorers

The best diagnostic instruments offer the clinician and patient superior overall dental health and comfort. We deserve to have the very best diagnostic instruments with a proven record of quality and durability in order to offer our patients the most comprehensive diagnostic opportunity possible. Diagnostic instruments are where dentistry and treatment begin. Clinicians must be able to see exceptionally well...

Assisted Hygiene: Patricia Farmer, RDH, Offers Guidance on Increasing Production

Want to know how one amazingly energetic dental hygienist can produce $42,000 to $50,000 a month? Using time management and performing every task allowed under her state guidelines, this hygienist has created a superb daily flow. Assisted hygiene changed the trajectory of her career. Patty Farmer, RDH, graduated from Prairie State College in 2002. Her LinkedIn account reveals a vast...

Sharp Dental Instruments Create Better Treatment Outcomes and Comfort for Hygienists

Sharp instruments are critical for both dental clinician and patient. From the patient standpoint, they are much more comfortable as less pressure is applied to remove calculus. When sharp instruments are used, the amount of time for the procedure is reduced. Gingival tissues respond better when fewer repetitive strokes are used, and less pressure is applied. Comfortable dental patients with...

Still Negative: How Do Hygienists Create Change?

A recent article about negativity in the dental hygiene profession was published in Today’s RDH, and the Facebook posts of the article (here and here) resulted in comments, concerns, and questions about personal protective equipment (PPE) and the current state of dentistry. I thought my article brought out an interesting thought process that should be addressed. One hygienist said, “Our...

Preparations for Dental Hygiene Temping Assignments during Pandemic

Are you uncertain about whether you are feeling respected and appreciated in your current employment situation? Multiple options abound in the dental profession. Perhaps it is time to start interviewing for another permanent position. Perhaps a total change is needed, and you crave flexibility. With the current pandemic situation, temporary positions are bountiful. Many hygienists have chosen not to go...

Negativity in Dental Hygiene: Halt Fears and Focus on the Positive

Do you find that the negativity found online has become almost overwhelming? Social media is inundated with horror stories of terrible dental offices and horrible shortages of protective gear. We can scroll for hours and find hundreds of posts and comments revealing fear as well as a lack of respect within the dental office for both staff and patients. This...

5 Step Implant Assessment

Implants are becoming commonplace in our patients, and we need to know how to care for them in office and for patient instruction. At one time, patients presented with bridges; we now know that cutting down healthy opposing teeth to give patients a biting surface is old school and that asking patients to clean under a bridge was wishful...

Emergency Dental Treatment During Pandemic Should Lead to More Patient Education

So many things will be changing before we are able to go back to traditional patient care. Personal protective equipment, sanitizing wipes, aerosol control, and barriers will, of course, be the main priority. Secondly, we also need to define infection control standards for the common areas such as will coffee service be permitted, proximity of reception area seating, and...

Post-virus Hygiene: Make the Decision to Relaunch Your Career

Editor's Note: Information about COVID-19 is changing on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. We have made every attempt to ensure this article is up-to-date at the time of publication, but with the rapid changes occurring, some information may have changed since publication. Please visit https://www.coronavirus.gov/ for the latest news and information on COVID-19. Fellow hygienists, I hope this finds you all at...

Orthodontic Hygienist: RDH Discovers a “Love” for Bracket Removal

Dental hygiene comes to each of us in a unique way. This is a description of the journey by Candy Malone, BSDH, a 2003 graduate of Marquette University. As a nine-year-old, Candy was an orthodontic patient of Dr. Gregory Kubik. She had the most positive, wonderful experience as he worked his miracle, creating her now infectious smile. Candy also had...

Organic Does Not Mean Caries-free: Chasing the Elusive Hidden Sugars

Why do some of our patients believe that eating “clean” or eating only organic foods is some magic bullet for dental health!? In the last three weeks, I have seen multiple patients who eat only foods purchased from high-end grocery stores or boutique-style shops. These patients present with a ridiculous amount of interproximal tooth decay. When questioned about food intake...

Medical Updates: Dig To Find What the Dental Patient Isn’t Saying

When asking patients about their medical health updates, it’s crucial to listen for the answers and probe for greater depth of response. We all have dental patients who casually report no changes. It is best to read the medications from the previous history and ask about each medication. Validate the accuracy of each medication and any potential new prescriptions,...

Hygienists’ Opinions Sought: Consider Applying for Colgate’s Advisory Board

Have you thought about applying for a position on the Colgate Oral Health Advisory Board (COHAB) for 2020? I sincerely hope everyone knows about this opportunity Colgate provides for hygienists. The board is made up of a small number of diverse dental professionals. The number of years practicing, location, area of interest, and practice type are all taken into...