Negativity in Dental Hygiene: Halt Fears and Focus on the Positive

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Do you find that the negativity found online has become almost overwhelming? Social media is inundated with horror stories of terrible dental offices and horrible shortages of protective gear. We can scroll for hours and find hundreds of posts and comments revealing fear as well as a lack of respect within the dental office for both staff and patients.

This negativity is creating an atmosphere of distrust and anger. It is time for hygienists to take control of our careers. Let’s do our research and see what new protocols must be in place for both personal and patient safety. If we find that we are not being provided exactly what we desire for personal comfort, have a conversation with the decision-makers and make the request. If the request is denied, purchase it for your own use.

Some hygienists are blogging about specific hair caps. If you have a strong personal preference, order your own to assure your own personal comfort. It is the same situation with N95 masks. Some brands run smaller and may adapt more easily to wearing loupes while maintaining an excellent seal.

Choose the products that make you the most comfortable and feel the safest. Most of us have purchased our own loupes and light. Why not consider other purchases to make your work life better?

Flexible About Changes

Protocols are changing as the pandemic evolves. So we, too, must be amenable to change. We read online about providers who refuse to bend from their traditional appointment flow, and we now know that simply will not work. Aerosols have changed our daily life, and, yes, we all used universal precautions and practiced in the manner believed to be safe.

But now is the time to adapt to increased awareness. No matter our personal beliefs, patients want to see that change has been made to increase their personal protection. We need to provide more safety than the local shopping experience and prove that we are worthy of treating them in this time of increased fear of contagions. Take the time to explain the new protocol. The rationale is that it’s important to ease concerns, justify possible fee increases, time changes, pre-screening, and the overall experience.

As a dental professional in an obviously high-risk industry within health care, we need to be at our best physically and emotionally. Not every hygienist is going to be prepared to work clinically at this time. That is fine. As an individual, choices must be made based on overall health, family situations, finances, and comfort level. It is perfectly fine to choose to wait to return to the workplace or to choose an alternate setting.

One of the many benefits of dental hygiene is the varied career opportunities. If clinical is not an option now, perhaps sales, writing, grant opportunities, management, coaching, consulting, etc. Find your passion and explore the options. Never let the fear of change be a hindrance, allow fear to inspire you to jump out of your comfort zone into something new and potentially joyful.

The Power of Grace During a Pandemic

If you made the decision to practice clinically at this time, then please celebrate with your patients for their trust in allowing you to provide care for them during this uncertain time. Thank them for permitting you to care for their dental health needs and for understanding that dental health is truly necessary for systemic health.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and a simple thank you goes a long way. Post about an amazing patient encounter and share that joy to create an uplifting online experience.

Most patients are delightfully gracious, and they have been eagerly looking forward to that feeling of freshly cleaned teeth − even with the changes made to the appointment. It can easily become a moment of mutual respect and practice building, turning into perhaps a great time to remind them that your office is accepting new patients.

Dialing Back the Negativity

Take a moment to read through your own personal social media platforms and decide if you are projecting the image you want portrayed. Obviously, not every thought or vent session is something that you want to be remembered for professionally.

Let’s commit to having an actual conversation with a colleague or friend to accomplish more than an anonymous posting. The daily negativity and lack of respect seem to overtake any truly excellent posting. Let’s collectively post the new and exciting opportunities available for increased personal protective equipment, better techniques, improved courses, better scheduling, and anything that we can glean from each other.

Make an effort to help guide each other through our daily lives and truly be a role model for another hygienist. Surrounding ourselves with positivity and striving to lift each other up collectively will enhance dental hygiene as a whole, and we can all feel great about that.

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:

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Debbi Viger, RDH, BHS
Debra Viger, RDH, BHS, has 30 years of clinical dental hygiene, dental office management, and treatment coordination experience. Embracing a complete approach to efficient dental office operations, she successfully encourages offices to work at peak performance levels with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. She is past president of McHenry County Dental Hygiene Society and past chair of continuing education. She has published in both RDH and Access Magazine.

Debra is currently a Director of Outreach, teaching daily home care techniques, nutrition for dental health, and desensitization for the developmentally delayed and autistic community. Through her program, she has demonstrated that all patients are special and need unique treatment options. This programming is easily shared including the video training. Reach out for further information to nviger8 [at]