The Dental Hygienist

“Be true to your teeth, and they won’t be false to you.”

Every six months, I receive a call from the dental office reminding me that, if I don’t come in to their office soon, all of my teeth will fall out. I of course immediately book an appointment as the idea of a toothless smile scares me more than a night with the in-laws.

I have adopted a very strict routine when I book a dental appointment. I immediately start flossing my teeth and I don’t go to the movies on the off chance I might eat popcorn.

As many of you with a healthy dental plan will know, you aren’t really going to see a dentist with this biannual visit, you are going to see a dental hygienist for this appointment.

This preventative approach revolutionized the tooth industry.  There is something quite comforting in knowing you can go to a dentist’s office and never have to see a dentist.  My trips to the clinic tend to have a repetitive feel.

After reading People Magazine for about ten minutes to catch up on world issues, I am escorted into a room with a large reclining chair.  Conversations begin with the perils of gingivitis. Conversations of course are very difficult as I tend to have very sharp pieces of metal in my mouth most of the time. I use one-word answers as the hygienist seems to enjoy this fantasy male – female conversation where males are relegated to short replies that don’t involve baseball analogies.

My dental hygienist claims there is tartar on my teeth as I argue that, even though tartar is offered with the fish and chips I consume monthly, I avoid the tartar sauce. She is not amused.

I suggest that if they made toothbrushes with sharp metal hooked bristles, my teeth would remain a lot cleaner. She is not amused.

When asked what kind of flavour I would like with my fluoride treatment, I asked for anything but the baking soda option. I tell her that last time we used that, I had an uncontrollable urge to sit on the top shelf of my refrigerator. She is not amused.

The session always ends the same.  I get a large bill, a new tooth brush, a small tube of paste, and a small container of floss. I commit to religious usage of this minty string.  As I drive home I think about the role the dental hygeinist has had in this brave new cavity free world.

Dentst’s advocation of preventative medicine was an idea way ahead to it’s time. The most significant part of the growth of this dental hygienist industry is the vision that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of the cure. This was revolutionary thinking in the early 1900s, as humans still scoured the local creeks for leeches to help manage their blood pressure.

Countries were slow to adopt this very progressive approach to dental care:

The History of Dental Hygiene at a Glance



First Year of Training First Year of Legislation of Practice No. of programmes in 2001
USA 1913 1907ȸ 1917† 234
Norway 1923 1979 3
Canada 1951 1947ȸ 1952† 27
Japan 1948‡ 1951 1948 125
United Kingdom 1954 1954 19
Nigeria 1961 1993 none
R. of Korea 1965 1973 27
The Netherlands 1968 1974 4
Sweden 1968 1991 9
Denmark 1972 1986 2
South Africa 1972 1969 6
Switzerland 1973 1975§ 1991§ 4
Australia 1975 1972 5
Finland 1976 1972 2
Italy 1978 1988 17
Israel 1979 1978 3
Iceland Educ. Abroad 1978 none
China (Hong Kong) 1982 1982 1
Portugal 1983 1983 1
Spain 1989 1986 25
New Zealand 1993 1988 1
Latvia 1996 1996 1
Czech Republic 1996 1996 1
India (भारत) 1972 1972 NA

This graph exposes the difficulty of change as countries slowly recognized the value of hygiene. It certainly explains why the Czech’s never smile when you tell them a really funny joke.

Brushing your teeth became a very important habit as scientists concluded this was a viable denture avoidance strategy. At first there were only two options for your important tooth paste selection; Colgate or Crest. This was similar to the Coke Pepsi dilemma, where ironically those soft drinks were the major cause of your tooth decay. A renegade company composed a catchy jingle, ”You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush you teeth with Pepsodent.” and the tooth paste war began. Tubes with names like Ultra Brite, Aquafresh, Arm and Hammer, and Sensodyne battled aggressively for your tooth paste dollar. Clearly manufacturers knew that regardless of the world’s current, grim circumstance, things were going to get a lot better and you were going to smile a lot in the future… so you better brush your teeth.

This progressive approach to healthcare got me to thinking. What if other leaders of industry adopted this simple, yet clearly effective preemptive approach to their business world? Allow me to help here.

The Banking Hygienist

This junior employee makes you sit in the exact same kind of chair that the dental hygienist uses, and as he shines that bright light in your eyes, you confess that the personal loan you are seeking is really for a trip to the casino.

The Plumber Hygienist

This young apprentice arrives at your house, looks at your pipes, and leaves mumbling something about poor flushing technique, and a promise that the real plumber will be here in a few days. You are not amused.

The Waitress Hygienist

She arrives at your table promptly and starts flossing your teeth. She does this because she is attending dental hygienist school, and likes to practice her trade. You leave the minimum ten percent tip.

The Real Estate Hygienist

This well dressed professional arrives at you house, and meticulously rearranges every piece of furniture in every room. With a fancy looking clipboard, she makes hundreds of notes. She asks if you have an x-ray machine to help with her assessment. You disappoint her with your answer and she stomps out of your house warning you of the poor quality of the photos for your listing.

The Lawyer Hygienist

When your murder charge is finally processed, you meet with this junior partner to help prepare your case. As the evidence keeps mounting against you, this legal professional points out that your hands still have gun powder on them, and you really should shower before you meet your real lawyer.

The Car Mechanic Hygienist

This dirty looking balding man in overalls, lifts up the hood of your car, touches a bunch of valves, hoses and metal, and just shakes his head. He grunts at the costly diagnosis and leaves the garage. Three minutes later the real mechanic walks towards your car and it turns out it’s the same guy, only this time he is wearing a baseball hat. You save a little money because he absorbs the labour cost of the hygienist.

The Priest Hygienist

This man of the cloth only works weekends in the confession booth. He listens to you as you bear your soul with the multiple sins you have committed that week. He snickers a little and asks if you have any pictures on your phone to prove your wickedness. You share your multiple selfies, and you receive partial absolution pending the real priest approval.

This concludes my groundbreaking recommendation begging the world to take a slightly more proactive approach when presenting solutions.  Einstein once said the definition of insanity was to “Wear a propellor beanie, lock yourself in the closet and shout out the lyrics to “We are the Champions”.. of something like that.  Or perhaps a more current quote might help with my argument.

“I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow, he told me to wear a brown tie”  Rodney Dangerfield

Cue the Blong;  Kind of an anthem to dentists “I Don’t Like You!” This song also works for auditors.

4 thoughts on “The Dental Hygienist

  1. Very funny Dennis…yet insightful at the same time. I find it a little more than interesting to see that the UK adopted this policy in 1954, and you can’t help wondering what the unaided awareness of this actually is amoungst the citizenry. Much like here in Ontario where it has been deemed legal for women to go topless in the summer as they go about their daily business, it seems there has been a shameful lack of clear communication to the masses on this matter. Another reminder that most things are actually Marketing problems. Rob

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