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A hygienist's favorite things


A holiday ode to dental hygienists' favorite things.

It’s the holiday season, which means patients are scheduling last-minute hygiene visits “before the insurance runs out”, our anxiety climbs as we ask each patient every hour on the hour “are you ready for the holidays?” and we spend our entire day in the office listening to the same 20 holiday songs on repeat.

While I’m partial to “sleigh ride” and that song that talks about Christmas in Africa (I really like the harmonies), there are certain holiday songs that I just CANNOT stand!

The other day, I was happily scaling away when I heard it:

“Raindrops on roses
and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles
and warm woolen mittens…”

While I’m more of a “raindrops while drinking rose´ wine and whiskers on puggles” gal myself, I realized that there are far better things that I would consider to be my favorite things.

As hygienists, we aren’t as different as we think we are. I’ve learned that, for the most part, our obsessive-compulsive desire for picking at oozing tissues has bonded us, and as such, most of us enjoy similar joys in the office.

So here it is, my fellow hygienists!  An ode to you-well, us, really!

Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, I give you the 12 Favorite Things of a Dental Hygienist.


  • Warm Scrubs Out of The Dryer: It’s a cold morning, you’ve pulled yourself out of the shower too soon, and you’re prepping for your crazy hygiene day ahead. Is there anything more perfect than the effervescence of fabric softener hitting you as you put on warm, perfectly pressed scrubs?  I think not.

  • A Perfectly Organized Toothbrush Drawer: I mean, isn’t there something just absolutely perfect about opening your toothbrush drawer to see each beautiful brush perfectly aligned next to each other, ready to help save our patients from uncertain disease?  Bonus points if the toothbrushes are sorted based on color, which some of my OCD hygienists absolutely do.

  • The Perfect Pen: It writes perfectly. With an effortless whisk of the point, a perfect amount of ink drops in beautiful succession-and we all have our favorite type of pen: ballpoint or gel, black or blue, cap or click-and we all label our pen so no one else in the office will steal it, am I right?

  • Cavicide: Find me a hygienist who doesn’t love the fresh smell of cavicide in the morning-it can’t be done. Moreover, find me a hygienist who doesn’t love pouring the liquid from the old cavicide canister into the new canister, ensuring the wipes are thoroughly saturated.

  • The Perfect Anatomy:  Your 8 a.m. SRP patient needs anesthesia and your coffee is still kicking in. With a bit of finesse, you find your landmarks and nail the most perfect injection. You hit your target, come out swiftly, cap your sword-I mean, needle-and the patient says, “I didn’t even feel that.” I am amazing, you say to yourself.

  • When Doctor Shows up for the Exam on Time: You’re just finishing up the final rinse on your patient, you begin the same sentence you say every hour on the hour:“Alright, well, I’m going to step out and get doctor.” Except you look up, and there they are! The doctor is actually in your operatory, gloving up and ready for the exam. ON TIME!  Can you believe it?!

  • The Denture Patient: You’re running behind. It’s the last patient before lunch-you struggle to bring them back and as soon as you introduce yourself, they are removing their full upper denture and partial lower denture revealing four mandibular teeth with extreme recession but minimal plaque. And you’ve got your entire hygiene hour to spend with them. YES!

  • When the Last Patient No Shows: We are all human, so here’s the deal-there is something slightly glorious when the last patient of the day is a no-show. I get it, I get it, I get it-we are here to serve our patients and I’m all for that. But every single one of you has experienced the elation when the front office comes back and says, “He forgot about his appointment and scheduled to next week.”  Cue the happy dance!

  • Popping off a huge chunk of calculus: Okay, the last two made it seem like maybe we are lazy, but the reality is that we love getting down and dirty with heavy calculus. There is nothing more wonderful than taking a fresh cavitron tip-I mean a healthy, working cavitron tip-into the subgingival space and feeling the overwhelming give of a giant piece of black calculus release from the tooth structure, fly out the other side of the col, and adhere to my patient’s tongue. Can I get an amen?!

  • Gifts from our referrals:  It’s been a long morning. I don’t think I’ve taken a single sip of water or used the restroom once. I get to the back room and our periodontist across the street brought us a chocolate-covered fruit platter. HOORAY! Who doesn’t love a mid-morning snack?

  • Surprise Chipotle: You’re working on your 10 a.m. patient, they’re the kind of patient that cannot function without making out with the slow speed suction every few seconds, you’re frustrated and then, like an angel from the heavens, an assistant comes over and says, “The doctor is ordering everyone Chipotle…what do you want?” 

  • The Smell of Endo Ice: Maybe it’s because we are so used to sniffing perio breath all day (or perhaps it’s just delicious) but I just cannot get over the incredible aroma that fills the air when someone has a hot tooth destined for an icy Q-tip of delicious Endo Ice. The light pepperminty nose just brings me right into the holiday spirit.

Remember, he sees you when you’re scaling, he knows when you’re probing, he knows if you’ve been to CE courses so be good for goodness sake!

Happy Holidays to you and your family, and I hope you enjoy a safe and enjoyable holiday season.


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