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Ask yourself: How do you feel when you walk through the door of your place of employment? Are you overcome with excitement and solidarity? Are you anticipating angst and chaos? Maybe you walk into your own personal nirvana! Small changes can yield great results. How we approach our instrumentation choices can make great differences in the course and flow of our day.
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Think of your most recent clinical day’s schedule. What was the situation with your 10 a.m. patient? How did your 2 p.m. present? How similar was your 4 p.m. client? For most of us, the answer is unique to each patient. Their needs were different and our approach might have differed, so wouldn’t it make sense that what we choose for instrumentation would differ also?
Find the right fit for your needs: There are so many variables when choosing instrumentation. You will want to consider varying factors based on your specific clinical complexion. If you see a high number of geriatric patients, for instance, you may be encountering evidence of arrested and active periodontal disease. You may be dealing with recession and pocketing with detoxification and possibly residual or burnished deposits. You need instrumentation that will be able to physically access these areas and handle the task at hand.
Instrumentation Golden Rule: Do not modify yourself for the sake of the instrument or device in your hands! Make the instrument and device work for you!
If you are dealing with areas that require more reach and shank length to fully access and perform instrumentation, then please choose it! There are so many choices out there among instrument manufacturers. You would not wear stilettos to tend to your garden, so choose an appropriate instrument to tend to your task at hand.
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Specifically, if you need extra shank length in order to reach the area of instrumentation and avoid an ergonomic slight to yourself, look towards designs such as Barnhart curettes and Right/Left Columbia curettes. Even consider Langer or Gracey curettes for their excellent accessibility! The classic Columbia 13/14 curette - a definite favorite and likely carryover from your dental hygiene school kit - is wonderful for teeth with shorter anatomy and less involved periodontal conditions. It does not have the shank length required to access more challenging conditions.
Also, consider the blade design in the grand scheme of your approach. If you will be relying on hand instrumentation more than your power instrumentation, choose a design that permits access but also can accept the lateral pressure that you will apply. Folks, this is physics. A thinner piece of metal cannot bear the same force that a heartier piece of metal can accommodate.
So look at your instrument set-up with a fresh perspective! The solution for you is as unique as the clinical complexion of your work. Decide whether the tailored suit or one size fits all with awesome accessories is the best fit for you on your road to work nirvana!
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About the author
Danielle A. Victoriano, RDH, BS, MHS is the Regional Account Manager serving Louisiana/Mississippi/Gulf Coast Panhandle. Formally, she served as the Product Manager for Scaler Accessories, where she used her clinical and educational expertise to develop scaling and sharpening products, as well as supportive materials and presentations for clinicians, educators, and students alike. Her experience includes clinical dental hygiene for the past 20 years, as well as instruction in all areas of dental hygiene -with emphasis in instrumentation, instrument design, sharpening and implant dentistry during her eight years in dental hygiene education. She has lectured nationally and internationally on the topics of sharpening, periodontal instrumentation, and implant dental hygiene.
Editor's Note: Photo "Buddhist monk in Khao Luang-Sukhothai" by ??????????????????/??????????????????????????????????????????????? - ????????? ???????? - Captured by uploader.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.