Dental Hygienists on Father’s Day: Give the Ideal Oral Health Gift

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This year, something special is happening on Sunday, June 20th: The first day of summer coincides with Father’s Day. The official start of high temperatures and unspeakable humidity (if you live in Florida as I do) combines the promise of summer fun with honoring the fathers (and father figures) in our lives.

If you are like me, finding the right gift for some of the dads in my life fills me with total anxiety. I shop, and I shop, but I inevitably end up ordering something random off Amazon that never quite hits the mark of expressing how much I care.

I want to take a moment to talk about what it means to be a gift-giving dental hygienist.

Dental Hygiene’s Gift of Advice

Many Today’s RDH readers already know that being a dental hygienist often means giving tons of free advice to siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, and even the occasional stranger that you just met in the coffee line. It also means not giving advice to others in your circle (even though you may really want to).

Dental hygienists have to balance using our knowledge of oral health care to help others with overstepping into the personal space of our family and friends. We often try to keep our dental thoughts to ourselves and let the people come to us if/when they want our advice. It’s sometimes like being a guru on a mountaintop. But that doesn’t always mean we are making the best use of our skills.

Many years ago, I was visiting my father-in-law’s house. And being the natural tooth sleuth that I am, I noticed a few items in his bathroom ─ an older model electric toothbrush with badly worn bristles, whitening mouthwash, a bag of single-use flossers, and over-the-counter bleaching strips.

OK, I admit it, I took stock of his entire home care supply!

My first thoughts were along the lines of “Great, it looks like he has all of the tools he needs to take care of his teeth.” This thought was followed by, “He is definitely into having a whiter smile.” This is where the pieces began to fit together. Having a healthy smile was right up there in priority to having a white/stain-free one. Ah-ha! For the first time in half a decade, I finally knew what gift I should give him for Father’s Day ─ a new electric toothbrush.

Tough Ol’ Codger

Some people are hard to shop for. My father-in-law is one of those people who “hates stuff.” He appreciates the sentiment of a gift but mostly doesn’t want things that will clutter up his home or are not useful in some way. So, after years of gifts that were never seen again, I was sure I had this year in the bag. One top-of-the-line brush with premium stain removing sonic technology and a sanitizer for the brush heads. I was so excited to give it to him.

It also sat under his coffee table for nearly two years before he even opened the box.

I would visit and ask, “Why don’t you open up your new brush and try it out?” He would reply, “Because my other one is fine.” As I said, he’s a tough person to shop for. After a few visits, I gave up asking and just watched as the box collected a fine layer of dust as it sat underneath that coffee table.

Then, out of the blue, he calls up and tells me that his new toothbrush is the best brush he’s ever had. He’s genuinely surprised at how much more oomph it has compared to his previous model.  He’s only used it a few times but is sure he is getting better stain removal and cleaner teeth.  He’s thrilled.

I’m thrilled. I may never score a gift-giving win like this with him again as long as I live.

Caring About Dad’s Oral Health

Showing our fathers that we care about them is what Father’s Day is all about, even if the effects are not realized right away. So, I say go ahead and gift Dad that new comfort-grip toothbrush. Put some xylitol candies in the mail for Grandpa. Use your dental hygiene sleuthing skills to gift the parental figure in your life things that say, “I care about you and making your day-to-day routine healthier/easier/better.”

Take your assessment skills and put them to use to show those close to you that you are paying attention to their needs, that you love them, and are willing to be an advocate for their health and a supporter of their dental goals. Besides, if you give everyone electric toothbrushes now, next year’s shopping will be all too easy ─ replacement brush heads!

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Aurora Graves DeMarco, BA, RDH, CDA, has been in the dental field since 2000 when she started as an on-the-job trained dental assistant. In 2006, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State University, and the following year received her certificate in dental assisting. Two years later, Aurora completed an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Throughout her career, she has taken every opportunity to engage in the field of dentistry through clinical practice, volunteering, and education. For two years she served as President for the Greater Orlando Dental Hygienists’ Association (now the Central Florida Dental Hygienists’ Association) and enjoys being an active part in the promotion and progression of the field of dental hygiene. In addition to writing articles, Aurora has worked on updating two dental hygiene textbooks to new editions and looks forward to more projects that combine her love of writing with her love of teeth. She spends her free time chasing her dog, two cats, two kids, and her husband around their Florida home.