Hygienists are being encouraged to report dentists. Dentists can’t get hygienists back to work without a fight. What’s going on? Dr. Joshua Austin looks at the root of the conflict and how both “sides” can work together.
Relations between dentists and dental hygienists have never been more strained than they are today. Certainly there have always been little nitpicks in our history. Wages rise, profitability decreases. Hygienists want more time. Dentists want more efficiency. These debates have wound through our practices like a river, ebbing and flowing as dentistry changes. For the most part, we dentists have been able to peacefully coexist with dental hygienists. Then COVID-19 happened, and apparently the Grand Canyon opened up between us.
As more and more states proceed with their reopening plans, we are seeing dental hygiene associations weaponize against dentists. According to dental hygiene associations, dental hygienists don’t feel safe performing their jobs. Anecdotally, this is not my experience. After a short meeting with my team, the dental hygienists in my practice were all ready to roll. Once they saw the time and effort put into making the practice safe, I saw excitement in their eyes in anticipation to getting back to providing patient care. Most dentists are probably having the same experience with their dental hygienists. Where the battleground seems to be is dental Facebook groups.