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...

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: 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: Patient with Severe Sensitivity when Scaling

I have a patient with extreme thermal and tactile sensitivity but has great probing depths. She qualifies for a prophy but needs to be anesthetized due to her sensitivity. Therefore, we do 1/2 mouth one visit, and the other half another visit. What insurance code would we use to bill this out as? Any suggestions besides local anesthesia to...

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: 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: 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: 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: 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...

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