US News and World Report came out with their annual (2016) listing of the Best Jobs in America. Notwithstanding the fact that any ranking is subjective, and easily manipulated by the criteria one uses to rank a job, but we must admit that it was rewarding to see Orthodontists and Dentists finish #1 and #2. Pediatric Dentists weren’t listed separately but I suspect we were lumped in under the ‘dentist’ category.
Either ways, dentistry is a fantastic profession (and deservedly one of the best jobs around) – we get to see our patients grow, develop relationships with them, eliminate discomfort and pain, educate, make patients feel great about their smile (and their overall well being), partner with fellow team members (assistants, hygienists, business associates) towards a common goal, while exercising a certain level of independence and freedom that has largely disappeared from other professions. What’s not to like? We think it’s a wonderful profession.
Here’s a listing of the top 10 jobs of 2016:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Physician Assistant
- Nurse Practitioner
- (tie) Obstetrician and Gynecologist/Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
So the super geeky, jet propulsion lab, MIT wanna be, engineering side of my personality (isn’t there an engineer in all of us?) was fascinated by this video produced by google engineer Ben Krasnow, which in illuminating, exhaustive detail shows the effects of brushing on the bristles of a toothbrush. Google is famous for it’s search engine, but a little known fact is that Google engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their time to work on things that personally interest them (and which may have an application for Google). Apparently, engineer Krasnow has a fascination with microscopes and toothbrushes. And so do the 280,000 who have viewed the video.
It is common knowledge that one should change a toothbrush every 3 months. Ben’s project showed that after 3 months when viewed through a scanning electronic microscope, the bristles on the end of your toothbrush are worn smooth. In order for brushing to be effective, the tips of the bristles need to be ‘microscopically’ rough which not only aids in abrading away plaque but increases the surface area of the bristle contacting the tooth.
Ben also scans toothpaste, specifically looking at the coarse grains of di-calcium phosphate di-hydrate which is in toothpaste, and which acts as an abrasion agent to aid in the cleaning of teeth. Think baking soda or sand. These grains are 20 microns in diameter, similar to 600 grit sandpaper which is actually surprisingly coarse. He does reveal that in a pinch, one can use toothpaste to clean dirty car headlamps.
The video which is over 8 minutes in length is a nerdy scientist’s dream and is appropriate for anybody who enjoys watching detailed explanations of how things work. It is full of words like zoom ratio, vacuum desiccation, aspect ratios and silver vaporization. I give it a strong 2 thumbs up.
If you need a good excuse to change your toothbrush after 3 months, I highly recommend this video!
One of the more important missions of our practice is that of being an advocate for optimal health in ALL children. We recognized a long time ago (we’ve been in practice since 1975!) that as a practice in a densely populated suburb of Boston (Go Weymouth!), that as much as we would have liked, not every child could be cared for in our office. Hence, the idea of a Community Health Educator who could go out to our surrounding towns and introduce preschool age children to good oral health and dentistry was born. Fast forward to today, and we currently visit over 80 area nurseries, kindergartens and daycare centers as part of our pledge of keeping “Kids Smiling Healthy Smiles”.
This important job falls on the shoulders of “Miss Claire” (as she’s known by the thousands of children who have met her) who for over the past 2 decades has dressed up in her Crest Toothpaste costume, and been the public face o f our practice in her role as our Community Dental Health Educator. We recently sat down with Claire, and took a trip down memory lane with her.
– How long have you been a hygienist?
It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve been a hygienist for 34 years, with 28 of them at Dentistry For Children, P.C. Dr Schneider was a solo-practitioner back then, and Dr. Skoler (one of our orthodontists) had just started. There were only nine staff members. I was hired to replace the first hygienist ever hired, and I think I may have been chosen over other candidates since she and I were former dancing school friends. There are now close to 45 staff members in the practice.
– Tell us a little about your professional history
I am a proud alumnus of the Weymouth public school system. I graduated in 1977 from Weymouth South High School. My High School boyfriend’s sister was a dental hygienist, and she encouraged me to become a RDH (‘Registered Dental Hygienist). I graduated from the Forsyth School of Dental Hygienists in Boston, which at the time was affiliated with NorthEastern University. I had some great instructors including the now infamous Cathy Greig, Whitey Bulger’s girfriend!
I am a member of the American Dental Hygienist’s Association and have served as both secretary and president of the South Shore District Dental Hygienists’ Association.
– Why did you want to become a dental hygienist?
My fascination with teeth is both an embarrassment and obsession. In first grade I was embarrassed to smile since I had severe early childhood caries. I remember during 2nd grade recess that I used to take silver foil gum wrappers, place them over my teeth, and pretend I had braces. Our generation had a high cavity incidence partly. I had a big sweet tooth back then.
– Any suggestions for those who may be interested in a career in dental hygiene?
Take as many science classes as possible but being well rounded in other areas is great too. It’s so important to be able to converse with patients, and to have a sense of empathy. My dance background provided me with the confidence to perform in public, which helps when I go out to the many schools.
– In your almost 3 decades of caring for children, what are some of the changes in dentistry that you’ve noticed?
I would say one of the greatest changes is that more fathers are being involved in the day to day care of their children. More dads are bringing their children to the dentist. It’s so great to see Dads taking such an active role in parenting. Digital x-rays have revolutionized how we take x-rays. I used to have to change the chemicals we used to develop our old x-rays monthly, and that was one of my jobs that I was glad to eliminate. We also started using fluoride varnish about 3 years ago, thus no more fluoride trays for patients to gag on for four minutes per arch.
– As the Dentistry For Children Community Health Educator, what do you do?
As the community dental health educator, I present a program about going to the dentist while including the children as active participants. This year I started having the kids do creative role playing, where one child gets to “dress up” as the dentist, complete with a scrub jacket, gloves and safety glasses. Another child pretends to be the patient with bib and sunglasses. My favorite part is when I have the children cover their eyes, and I put my homemade Crest toothpaste costume on.
– What do you do for fun?
When I’m not working, I’m often “working out”. I like to go to spin classes, Zumba, Pilates and run a few road races a year. My most recent ‘fun’ activity is traveling around Massachusetts, including Martha’s Vineyard on my husband’s Harley Davidson motorcycle.
– Any final thoughts or memories?
It’s rewarding to have children feel that going to the dentist is fun, and we strive to have all our patients have a positive experience. The funniest thing that ever happened to while at Dentistry For Children, was on April Fools’ Day. A boy put fake teeth in his mouth, so when I went to do his exam I jumped a mile. Kids are the best.
Thanks Claire for a job well done!