by Amber D Brannan RDH BS of Perio Protect
Many years ago as I was graduating from Dental Hygiene school, I kept hearing the words “burn out”. It was concerning to me because I wanted my chosen career to last a long time, and I didn’t want to feel “stuck” in a job because I “needed the money”. At the time, I was excited to start working with patients and couldn’t fathom the idea of ever hating it.
You see, I had started out as a dental assistant so I already knew I loved working with patients and I didn’t truly understand how monotonous the dental hygiene side of dentistry could become. Because, as an assistant I was literally doing something different with every single patient.
At first, being a hygienist was a dream. I was in control of my schedule, I had my own room that I could set up however I wanted, and I found it pretty easy to stay on time. Fast forward about 5 years and I slowly began to understand the words “burn out”. My job was starting to feel monotonous, I longed for the days I would have a patient cancel or no show so I could slip back into the assisting role. It was kind of depressing because a job that I had once loved was no longer exciting to me.
It was frustrating on so many levels but one of my biggest struggles was the fact that I would feel guilty when a patient came in after I had completed scaling and root planing, which included extensive oral hygiene instructions, and they were a hot mess again. I know it was incredibly dumb to feel guilty because they didn’t do their part at home. But in my mind, I felt like I had somehow failed to make them understand the importance of good homecare. And, I always got the sense that they were blaming me when they continued to have bleeding and inflammation.
About 6 years into my hygiene career, a product came along that literally changed the way I felt about dental hygiene. My Doctor and I were asked to perform clinical trials for a new product that would treat gum disease at a microbial level. Instantly, I had about 50 patients that I wanted to use this product on. They were obviously the ones I was struggling the most with!
This new product was Perio Tray Therapy, which is basically a set of flexible trays that a patient puts a hydrogen peroxide product in and wears for 15 minutes everyday. The trays are designed to hold the medication below the gumline to kill the bacteria we can’t reach by brushing and flossing alone.
It was so easy to get patients on board initially, mostly because it was a “clinical trial” and for some reason people jump on the chance to be a guinea pig. They each got a comprehensive exam, FMX and impressions for Perio Trays. We had to see them a lot that first year to closely monitor their progress. I will never forget the look on some of my patients faces when they would come back in for a follow-up and they were excited because their gums were no longer puffy and no longer bleeding.
In my personal opinion, the best thing about my patients who wear Perio Trays is the ownership they take in the health of their mouth now. They realize that if they do their part at home, they won’t have bleeding & inflammation in their gums.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have non-compliant patients on occasion. I had one lady tell me she couldn’t wear her trays because the case they came in didn’t match her bathroom decor. But, for the most part compliance is great and I feel like Perio Tray Therapy has allowed me to stay in a career that I love for 22 years now.