Q: After 40 years of practice, my lovely hygienist has retired. I don’t want to leave my dentist, but how do I find another awesome hygienist?
A: I once attended a funeral of a veterinarian who passed away at 80. The attendees were all her patients; delirious, devastated and defecating. The new vet had big paws to fill, but once the demanding patients gave her a try, they took to her like a Calico to catnip. No bite wounds to report; just one disappointed Pug named Murray who complained about how little his insurance covered his testicle cyst.
How to Find the Right Hygienist
Unlike other states such as Colorado and California, hygienists cannot open their own practices; they must work in offices supervised by dentists. It does not make sense to follow your old hygienist to another office. You want the dentist who did your work to examine you at your hygiene visits. If he spots a problem with a recently done restoration, he most likely will fix it for a lot less cost (or none at all) than your hygienist’s new boss. Many dental offices who have a limited warranty policy on their work will not allow the warranty to apply if you are having their dental work examined and cleaned else ware.
Also, your dentist has invested in specialized hygiene equipment that other offices may not be providing for their hygienists on staff. Example: Our hygiene room contains: laser decay detectors, intra-oral cameras, trans-illuminators, piezo electric scalers, computerized perio- pocket probing and Teflon coated implant cleaning instruments. These are all needed to find and treat problems early, before they are catastrophic and expensive. As good as your hygienist was, she needs the right tools, much like any surgeon (or plumber).
In my thirty years of practice, our hygienists have all actively participated in the interviewing and selection process of the new hygienist. This assures you will have a fantastic successor that you won’t bite!
Dr. Mitchell Josephs practices Implant, Cosmetic and General Dentistry with an emphasis on implants, porcelain veneers, and complex crown and bridge treatment. He is on staff at JFK Medical Center and is a Faculty Advisory Board member at McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry. He completed his residency at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Hospital.