Ask Kara RDH: Student Feeling Overwhelmed with Seeing Patients in Clinic

I'm a student and am just starting seeing patients in clinic. I am having a hard time remembering how to find the correct working end of an instrument, detecting calculus, and all of it! Please tell me this is something that will come easier with more experience and time because I’m being very hard on myself and am overwhelmed! With...

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 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: 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...

Ask Kara RDH: The first job out of hygiene school is so stressful I feel like a failure

Just some background info first. I applied to jobs every day for a week until I got a call from a dentist to set up an interview. The interview went ok, and I was asked for a working interview. The pay was going to be less than I had asked for but I understand being a new grad and...

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: 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: Full Mouth Debridement before Prophy

Since I’ve started at this office, I feel I have seen too many FMD patients. Patients that I believe, and have been treatment planned, as an adult prophy, however, the doctor is diagnosing as needing an FMD first. Patients that come in with heavy supragingival calculus and moderate/heavy plaque, I can understand in order to remove deposits for an...

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: 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...

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