It’s National Dental Hygiene Month: The Best Time of the Year!

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No, it ‘s not Christmas yet, but during National Dental Hygiene Month, it can be. Mark your calendars for October 2018! This is the time dental hygiene is nationally appreciated. We are celebrating all we do in our community for our patients and the importance of oral health.

Thousands of dental hygiene companies and manufacturers have promotions, contests, and giveaways to reward the hard-working hygienist like yourself. It’s like the twelve days of giveaways on the Ellen Show, but dental hygiene edition. From t-shirts to dental hygiene products and everything in between, you have a chance of getting part of the action.

Even though this month is spotlighting all the dental hygienists out there, this month also nationally brings awareness of proper, complete dental hygiene care. This national awareness gives us the opportunity to help our patients even more. During National Dental Hygiene Month, we have the chance to educate our communities on what it is to be a dental hygienist, and what our roles are in the dental world. Many just think dental hygienists are the “teeth cleaners.” When we hear this, you have to laugh, because we all know how much detail goes on behind the scenes. This is also a perfect time to educate patients about our profession.

I am going to be honest, years before getting into dental hygiene school I thought hygienists had a few tools (no, not instruments, tools; later on I learned they are called instruments), took some radiographs, and polished my teeth with delicious flavors of prophy paste. WRONG! Dental hygiene school turned my world upside down. I was introduced to soft tissue management, local anesthesia,  proper terminology, and so much more than what I thought. There are thousands of instruments, all with their area-specific job. For radiographs, you better get that distal of that premolar in your shot! After getting through just one semester of the hygiene program, I had ten times more appreciation for my hygienist.

We must also pay tribute to those before us. This may be a fellow hygienist, a mentor, a past instructor, and you must not forget Dr. Esther Wilkins. If you don’t know who she is, take a peek at your textbook, Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist. She is considered the Matriarch of Dental Hygiene and the OG or Queen of Dental Hygiene. Dr. Esther Wilkins was both a hygienist and dentist from Massachusetts. She passed in 2016 at one hundred years old. Dr. Esther Wilkins was a huge influence and trendsetter in the dental world. The ADHA has a few scholarships and awards in her name.

Before I conclude this article, I have to show my appreciation for all those dental hygienists who have helped me along my journey to where I am today. My hygienist, in my small town, influenced me at a very young age to be a dental hygienist when I grew up. I cannot forget all my professors and instructors in my two years of dental hygiene school. (Shout out to all the amazing RDH’s at Bristol Community College!). They were there for all my highs and lows in and outside of clinic. They were there when I was in tears from not having a board patient, to when I was pinned as an RDH. There were times they had to be tough and give me a negative mark on a competency, and there were times we had some good laughs. I am extremely proud of where I came from. Each professor and instructor encouraged me to follow my dreams. I look to them as mentors as I continue my degree in hopes to one day become a professor just like them.  Lastly, I must mention I am truly grateful for the hygienists I work with each day. As a new hygienist, they have been extremely helpful and have had a lot of patience and understanding with me. Thank you so much!

Happy National Dental Hygiene Month to all the hygienists and future hygienists out there!

SEE ALSO: Dr. Esther Wilkins and a Century of Change

DON’T MISS: Keeping a Grateful Heart in Dental Hygiene

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Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA
Since a very young age, Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA, has always wanted to be a dental hygienist. She was the youngest student to graduate from her dental hygiene class in 2017. Since then, Kate has returned for her bachelor's and master's degrees. She is a faculty member at her local dental hygiene school and a clinical dental hygienist. Kate has been a part of Today's RDH since its launch. She is extremely passionate about homecare, loves her prophy paste and fluoride varnish, and enjoys attending professional conferences. In addition, Kate loves to work with a local non-profit organization that helps fight against hygiene insecurity of all ages in her community. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys being as involved as possible in the dental hygiene profession. When Kate isn't working, she enjoys traveling, sports, watching movies, and spending time with her amazing, supportive family.