Ask Kara RDH: How did you deal with stresses of dental hygiene school?

I’m currently a dental hygiene student in my second semester of my first year. It’s starting to get really tough, and I’m feeling the pressure. We’re just starting to see patients, and I’m feeling really lost with everything and discouraged. Being a dental hygienist is something I want very badly but I’m getting nervous that I will fail. Did...

Ask Kara RDH: How Often Should I Sharpen My Instruments?

I am a new grad and started full-time at a new office. The hygienist I replaced sharpened her instruments once a month. I feel that is not nearly enough, but I know this office doesn’t like ordering new instruments often. My concerns are I don’t want to wear down instruments very fast by over-sharpening, and I don’t want to...

Ask Kara RDH: Soaking gauze in disinfectant?

Is it OK to soak gauze in disinfectant or does disinfectant break down gauze to where the disinfectant is left ineffective? Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) don’t recommend pre-soaking gauze in disinfectant. Cotton fibers in gauze can absorb and actually inactivate ingredients in disinfectants leaving them less effective or...

Ask Kara RDH: Perio Maintenance Patients not Showing Improvement, SRP Again?

I am a new dental hygienist, licensed for about four months now. I see a lot of patients for periodontal maintenance. My concern with some more involved perio patients I’m running into is, during periodontal probing there isn’t a huge difference from the previous charting. Their pocket depths are ranging from 4-7 mm, OH is poor/fair, and it seems...

Ask Kara RDH: What is the best way to suggest perio treatment to a patient?

I just started my first dental hygiene job, and I’m having a hard time on how to suggest perio treatment and referrals. What’s the best way to explain perio to a patient and how to stress the importance not to leave deep pocket depths and bleeding untreated? With time, the more patients you see and explain the need for referrals...

Ask Kara RDH: What should I do about doctor cutting my pay?

I’ve been a hygienist at my current office for two years now. When the doctor hired me, he told me he would pay me $30 per hour ON ONE CONDITION: he said I must have at least five patients per day. If I have less than five, he cuts my pay down to $16 an hour. I agreed only...

Ask Kara RDH: How to address patients who are routinely late?

Is there a polite way to tell a patient to come on time? I get that things happen and are out of their control, but I have a few patients that are always 10-20 minutes late for all appointments. What’s the best way to address this? The offices I’ve worked at that run smoothly, on-time, and with the least amount...

Ask Kara RDH: What would you do if you’re being questioned on probing depths?

My Director of Operations had her friend come in for a cleaning last week. She had not been to the dentist for ten years but has excellent hygiene. My Director of Operations got mad at me because she didn’t need a deep cleaning. Probing depths were healthy with no bone loss or inflammation present. She is now having the...

Ask Kara RDH: Only Polishing Children and Considering It a Child Prophy

My doctor wants to change the protocol in our office for the treatment of children. I’m concerned about the level of care associated with the change he wants to implement. He wants all children to be seen by a dental assistant (dental assistants are allowed to polish in my state with certification) instead of a dental hygienist. The hygienist...

Ask Kara RDH: Anxiety Giving Local Anesthetic

Please help me and tell me I am not alone… am I alone? I have been a hygienist for three years. However, my anxiety over giving injections has not gotten any better. I get shaky and feel like my fear is written all over my face. I am the only hygienist who is licensed to give injections in my...

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