My apologies to anyone who thought I was not reading the whole of your responses and noting the good things done by our profession rather than the customary bashing that is common. I still seem to miss making my point that dentistry and dental hygiene services by and large, does not create or exacerbate the problems, but merel;y are an attempt to help the patient get a healthier mouth. I will go into this more later, but by and large, "a quick clean and polish," does not constitute the way we deal with periodontal disease. We do what is a normal prophylaxis on a healthy mouth. If there is disease present, it is a different procedure. It is more comprehensive, and normally requires local anesthesia.
John, the instrument you refer to is an ultrasonic scaler. It works on ultrasonic vibrations. It does not use a slurry of abrasive at all. If a hygienist or dentist uses this improperly it would cause pain. It could even damage the cementum surface which is below thwe gumline and below where there is enamel. COuld it bore a hole in the tooth? Well, it is unlikely. If it is placed against the enamel, I still say it would not do any damage at all. All this is academic at best. The fact is a hygienist who is board certified is not unskilled. If she is she should never have passed the licenising requirements in the US. I am not saying this is impossible, but if she were to use this improperly, it would hurt like hell and most patients would simply not stand it. Are there incompetant people in healthcare? SUre. Once my wife got an injection in the thigh that directly hit the bone and was very painful. THe nurse should not have used that angle for the injection. Are the vast majority of nurses like this? I think not. I do think there is a significant difference between the training of Registered Dental Hygienists in AMerica with their counterparts in the UK. There is also a significant difference between the training of dentists in the US over their counterparts in the UK. Maybe we have developed a little better patient skills in dealing with all of the patients dental issues because we are all private practice dentists. If I displease a patient, they simply do not come back. I hope to write my approach to dealing with a new patient, how this techinque seems to give patients and dentists a better approach to dealing with the problems patients present with. If time allows I will write another note in a few hours. RIght now, however, I am working on a patient who is delighted to have a dentist who sat down, developed a plan of attack with the patient, we decided how to approach her problems and are now proceeding as a team.