Directly after hygiene school, I got hired at two different offices, a general and a pediatric. I used to split my full time working schedule between the two, some weeks working six days straight! I love working with kids, but the grind of a pediatric office, isn't for me. Pedo is run entirely different than a general office that sees kids. In pedo, there were summer days I saw, on average, twenty patients in eight hours. Exhausting! Due to the sheer volume and time restraint, I didn't feel like I was able to give the best quality care I could barely remember their names. But I kept that schedule for about three years, as I was eager to earn money and pay off school debt!
My general office offered me a full time position during those three years, but I turned it down out of fear of change. But the second time I was offered it, I decided it was the right move and I was ready to fully commit to one practice. I poured myself into that practice and really began to love general. I value the quality over quantity. On a typical day one patient per hour would be all that I saw and cared for. I enjoy the variety you see in a general practice too. One hour you are elbows deep preforming non surgical periodontal therapy and then the next you may have a 3 year old you gently introduce to the chair, tools, and tastes. It is also like a game to meet the patients and see who all they were connected to within the practice. My network and community grew rapidly working in a small town. Caring for family generations is really endearing and special. I witnessed many children grow up and elderly die during my ten years of service there.
Kids really are a hoot in the dental chair. They say the silliest things and ask wild questions. As a hygienist, you are almost managing behavior and entertaining them more than "cleaning." It's quit the juggling act of animation and manipulation to get through an appointment. I have a million stories, but wanted to share one of my favorites!
We treated a family of four for a couple of years, every couple of months it seemed like one of them was trickling in. I treated the dad and the son the most. The dad was quit the jokester and DJed on the side. The son was a chip off the old block. One day, it was his turn for his appointment. I went to the waiting room and called his name, he decided he was old enough to come back on his own. All parties were comfortable with our office and routine. He was about five and still so tiny in my dental chair. I leaned him back and we started to make small talk.
I asked him " What flavor do you want to try today? Mint? Orange? Strawberry?
He thought for a moment and replied "Mint!"
I was surprised, most 5 year old's don't choose mint. I inquired further, "Are you sure? It might be kinda spicy."
Not concerned he said "Well, that's okay I'm half Mexican!"
I died laughing!!!