Ask Kara RDH: Co-worker Underdiagnosing & I Have to Explain to Patient

What do you do if you have a patient that’s been coming to the same practice for 15 years as is treated by the same hygienist, but I am now seeing them due to a scheduling conflict, and the patient presents with moderate subgingival calculus and slight bone loss on X-rays?  Because of this, it is recommended to the...

Ask Kara RDH: Good Job Offer, but 45 Minute Appointments

I was recently offered a job with more pay and good benefits. However, the appointments are only 45 minutes, except for SRP. Also, the equipment, such as the ultrasonic, are old. The office is pretty laid back, and the people and doctor are very nice, unlike my current, very well-equipped office. I did the working interview, and I felt...

Ask Kara RDH: Rumors Being Spread About Work Ethic

I recently graduated from dental hygiene school and will be returning to my hometown to find a job. I’m from a small town with about 20-30 dental offices, and I have worked at two of them. In the process of trying to find a job, I have discovered an untruthful statement about my work ethic, specifically, my punctuality. A...

Ask Kara RDH: Inadequate Instruments when Temping

I am a new grad working as a temp hygienist with an agency. I’m noticing more and more that the offices I’m temping in do not have sufficient instruments at all! I know I was spoiled in school to have like 5 of everything, but now I’m working in offices that don’t have any curettes at all - no...

Ask Kara RDH: Do I really need to sterilize slow-speed handpieces after every patient?

I read one of your articles regarding infection control. Do slow-speed handpieces really need to be sterilized after every patient when using a disposable prophy angles? We are currently sterilizing at the end of each workday. Yes, slow-speed handpieces must be heat-sterilized in between every patient. Even though you use disposable prophy angles, and slow-speed handpieces are considered semi-critical devices,...

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: Patients Complain I Talk too Much

When I am uncomfortable, running late, stressed out, fill-in the blank—–, I talk too loud and tend to talk too much. This “she talks too much” has inspired two patients complaining this last year in our reviews. I really try not to, but sometimes I misread the patient and pow! Any advice? This can be a tough one because you...

Ask Kara RDH: What can I recommend to patients with heavy stain?

I have had several patients in the past who come in the office with severe stain from wine and coffee. I usually try to anesthetize these patients for comfort and use the ultrasonic, polish, and air polish, but it doesn’t remove all the stain in the time allotted. What can I recommend to these patients to use at home...

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: Other Hygienist Criticizing My Work to Patients and in Chart Notes

I work in an office one day a week. I am a new grad, and this is my first job. We recently hired a new hygienist with years of experience. She saw one of my SRP patients at their first recall recently. This patient has poor oral hygiene and up to 9+ mm pockets. She said that whoever did...

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