All The Questions You Ever Wanted To Ask Me (Part One)

Wow, you guys asked some really good questions! There were more than I realized when I sat down to type out my answers, and my answers were longer than I thought they would be, and they took longer to type out than I thought they would. So, because of that difficulty, I'm breaking this down into a two-part series. Here are the questions I had time to answer over the weekend. Enjoy!

If you could choose whatever time you'd like to have children, when would you ideally like to have your first one?

ASAP! As in right now. I'm a little anxious for babies. But if we're talking birth month, I think June is a nice month to be born, or July. But I'm pretty much fine with any month, though I'd like to avoid December (because I'd prefer my baby's birthday not always be overlooked because of Christmas and everything).

What is the grossest thing that has happened to you on the job?

Getting spit and blood in my hair is always a winner. Sometimes I have to tell Derek not to kiss my hair, because there might be spit in it.

Warning: The following description is not for those with weak stomachs!

The grossest thing I've encountered is probably cottage cheese-like plague. Sometimes I get patients with deeper pockets underneath their gum tissue, and when I stick my instrument in there and pull it out, it's just covered with big chunks of plaque. Then I stick it underneath their gum again and pull it back out, and it's covered with chunks of plaque again. Yeah, I gagged a little on that one. This is what happens when you don't floss, People! Please don't make your dental hygienist gag. It's got to be pretty bad if your hygienist gets nauseous. Don't get to that point! Floss, floss, floss!

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

Here's the schedule:

5:00 AM - Wake up.
5:30 AM - Leave for work.
6:30 AM - Arrive at work, read my Bible or other book in the car for a little while.
6:45 AM - Go inside and set up for the first patient.
7:00 AM - Start on first patient.
8:00 AM - Second patient.
9:00 AM - Third patient.
10:00 AM - Fourth patient.
11:00 AM - Fifth patient.
12:00 PM - Lunch
1:00 PM - Sixth patient.
2:00 PM - Seventh patient.
3:00 PM - Eighth patient.
4:00 PM - Clean up.
4:15- 4:30 PM - Done!

Basically, I see eight patients in a day, one each hour, with a one hour lunch break at 12:00 PM.

Here's what the treatment schedule for a typical patient looks like:

1. Bring them back to the room and let them have a seat. Update the health history form and determine if there are any concerns. 1-2 minutes.

2. Take x-rays, if the patient is due to have them. 5 minutes.

3. Measure the bone support around the patient's teeth. We do this with a little probe that we place underneath their gum tissue, and by taking those measurements in that space between the gum and the tooth, we can determine how high the bone support is around each tooth. Normal measurements are 1-3 mm, anything above that indicates the presence of gingivitis or even bone loss around the teeth (periodontitis). The results of this screening let us know what type of cleaning the patient needs, whether they can have just a regular cleaning, or whether they need a deeper cleaning (called Scaling and Root Planing). 2-8 minutes.

4. If the patient has really deep measurements under their gums, we bring them back for a deeper cleaning (if they're a more complicated patient like that, we're usually too far behind in time to do anything that day). If their pockets are stable, we start cleaning. We can do this with hand instruments or an ultrasonic instrument that uses water and vibrations to clean the teeth. 20-30 minutes.

5. Polish the teeth and floss. 5 minutes.

6. Set the patients chair up and make notes in the chart. 1-2 minutes.

7. Have the dentist come do the exam. The time for this really varies, depending on how long we have to wait for the dentist to come in. 7-15 minutes.

8. Walk the patient up front.

9. Clean up for the next patient. 5-10 minutes.

Sometimes we have kids, and then we do two kids in one hour. We're able to do that because kids usually don't have too much deposit on their teeth, and we usually don't have to measure the bone support.

And yes, we fit all that into one hour, eight times a day. We really don't get breaks.

I didn't realize you all were so interested in my job! I'll have to do a future post on phrases that I say eight times a day. That one could be amusing.

What's your most embarrassing moment?

Oh gracious, no! You just had to ask, didn't you Amber? Most of my embarrassing moments are related to work or dental hygiene school. I guess this one would be the most embarrassing. Please don't laugh at me too much!

My first year of hygiene school we were assigned "Big Sibs" which were second-year hygiene students who mentored you during your first year. My big sib and I had been playing phone tag for several days, and we just couldn't seem to get a hold of each other.

Well, one day, in an exam for Dental Emergencies, my phone rang. In the middle of the exam! I could feel the glares. It was my big sib.

I panicked! It was a fairly new phone, and I had never had to mute it before. In desperation, and the chaos of the moment, I did the only thing I could think of to do, and just flipped the phone open, and it was quiet.

Well, that was just dandy, because now I had an open phone in my hand, with someone trying to talk to me on the other end of the line.

I was not thinking clearly. If I had been, I would have just hung up, muted the phone, and called her back later. But my brain just went blank. Panic has a way of doing that to you.

I proceeded to run out into the hall, so I could tell my big sib that I had to call her back later (I know, totally dumb thing to do).

My teacher was out in the hall right behind me (apparently she had got this awful look on her face and ran after me - so my classmates told me), but by the time she got there I had hung up. I didn't know what to say, so I just said it was my big sib, and I had been trying to get a hold of her (great explanation, no?). My teacher said , "Well, not in the middle of an exam," and hustled me back into the room.

It's a wonder I was able to concentrate enough to even get a decent grade on that exam. But I somehow did. Thankfully, I got good enough grades in that class that even if someone had accused me of cheating on that exam and it had been discounted, I still would have passed the class. So if any of you are thinking of reporting me after the fact, it wouldn't make a difference, I still would have graduated. Just thought I'd clarify that point, in case the Dean of my college is reading this.

The rest of the day all my classmates kept asking me what I was thinking, and if our instructor was really mad. I said I wasn't really thinking, and just panicked when it started ringing, and that my instructor hadn't said anything further to me.

The funny thing is, I think I actually became a favorite of that instructor. She would always grin at me and greet me when we passed each other in the hall, and she complimented my chocolate cake that I brought to the potluck.

I think she knew that my brain was fried and I was having a blonde moment, and that I really wasn't cheating. I wasn't on the phone long enough to get any answers, and a failed cheating attempt would not have led to such a good grade on that test. I think she knew I was smart, and that I was just having a dumb moment.

I have no doubt that story will come up as comic relief in future classes of hers.

My classmates laughed at me about it for a while. I was just praying that no one would bring it up at graduation.

Thankfully no one did.

That's it for today. By the way, I am still accepting new questions, so if you have a question for me about anything you may want to ask, you can go to my Questions post, and ask it there, and I'll include it in the next post! Though it could end up being a three-part series . . .

Stay tuned for Question/Answer Post 2!

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Brittney Galloway said...

Love this! And I love how you are taking the time to answer the questions in full, rather than just giving a one liner!

Felicia said...

Oh my, girl, I do not envy your job at all! My thanks to you and others in the dental profession!! Seriously!

Jessica said...

This is so fun! I loved finding out what you do at work, and that story about your embarrassing moment had me laughing. We all panic sometimes and do things we normally wouldn't do :-)

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this! How did you guys meet? Have you talked about baby names yet?

Anne said...

I have a question for you: If you had one free day and could do whatever you wanted (money was no object) what would you do?

I'm enjoying these posts - keep em coming!

Anna said...

I am such a dork, but I love reading about the details of what people do every day. So that was my favorite answer. :)

Did I ask you a question?!? Now I can't remember!

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