A bad thing about being a Dental Hygienist is that I’m picky with my dentist and how they do my Scale and Polish (S/P). There’s nothing personal, I know that they’re treating me like just any other patient (usually a bit better) but when I go have my regular 6 monthly P/C and S/P I feel like I could have done a better job. But then again, I need to remind myself that dentists just don’t Scale and Polish like a hygienist =)
First of all, what exactly is a Scale and Polish?
The words Scale and Polish is interchangeable with Scale and Clean or Dental Clean. In layman’s terms it is the process of getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist, but I hate using the term ‘Clean’ because people ‘Clean’ their teeth everyday (or so I hope!). Scaling is when we debride (remove) the calculus / tartar / calcified plaque from your teeth. Polish is exactly that, we polish up your teeth and remove stains with a bit of prophy paste.
So as I was getting my P/C and S/P, I couldn’t help but follow along in my mind what my Dentist was doing…
Charting, periodontal probing… ‘maybe she could have spent a little more time checking for decay’, scaling with Ultrasonic and a couple of strokes with the Hand Scalers… ‘why is there so much water?’, prophying, flouride, and Done!
At the end of it I wondered if the patients I see were ever this uncomfortable with me; did I treat them like just another set of teeth?
So why don’t I just go see a Dental Hygienist instead?
Well, technically I have seen a Dental Hygienist before. She was one of my friends so I actually trusted her with what she was doing, and I knew if I didn’t like what she did, I could just tell her off =) Nevertheless, one of the main reasons I don’t see a Dental Hygienist is that the dental practice I go to doesn’t have a Dental Hygienist and I don’t want to change dentists yet.
Another reason is that Hygienists use Hand Scalers more than dentists. For a typical patient, some Dentists only use the ultrasonic scaler but a Hygienist will use the ultrasonic as well as hand scalers (which is why we take more time). Scalers are sharp, and they can hurt bad if used incorrectly which leads on to my next reason. I have personally heard of complaints and comments about sensitive gums and teeth and how painful the process of Scaling and Polishing can be from my own patients!
At the end of the day, since I am privileged to certain information, I have trust issues when it comes to people working in my mouth. This is why I’ve always wished I could give myself a Scale and Polish! On the other hand, I personally think that a Dental Hygienist would perform a more thorough Scale and Polish than the regular Dentist. I just need to ignore all those negative feedback and keep my ears out for positive feedback, then maybe I can find myself a Hygienist I’m comfortable with.