Celebrating the powerful impact of the dental hygienist!
It's National Dental Hygiene Month in the United States. Each year, October marks the start of autumn weather, the return of sweaters, and awareness of oral health and the dental hygiene career. Every day, dental hygienists work tirelessly on behalf of patients.
RDH may as well stand for "Real Dental Hero". Hygienists bear witness to their patients' stories, using that information to understand the person behind the teeth and the care that is needed. They connect with their patients on a personal level. They screen for oral cancers and save lives. They comfort children and adults alike who fear the dental chair. They volunteer in schools, clinics, and dental missions, providing care where it is most sorely needed. And they organize and advocate for better policies and access to care. Not all heroes wear capes and throw punches – many everyday heroes wear purple scrubs and protect the masses with a scaler.
Dental Hygienists are really amazing people. When asked to describe their hygienist, many people use words like kind, engaging, warm, caring, or gentle. Additionally, hygienists save lives through oral cancer screenings and spotting oral signs of various diseases.
The intercollegiate color of dentistry is lilac; in the same vein, the official color of dental hygiene is purple – a color said to represent compassion, purpose, and inspiration. Historically, purple has always been associated with pride and positions of power – making it an ideal color for the hygienist, who is at once empowered by their education and passion to improve the lives of patients while also proud of their career. The purple scrubs, surgical glasses, and headbands that are so popular with hygienists are not simply fun; their color represents the pride of a dedicated, connected group of allied health professionals.
In recognition of the fact that dental hygienists are everyday heroes, in 2013 Hu-Friedy sought to create an event during dental hygiene month that would specifically thank RDH's for all they do, while providing a fun way to unite. Thus, #ShowUsYourPurple was born – an online event designed to unite dental hygienists across the nation in a positive show of force through the wearing of purple.
“Hu-Friedy has many different customer segments, but one group in particular has always been near and dear to our hearts – Dental Hygienists,” explains Hu-Friedy Chief Marketing Officer Patrick Bernardi. “In addition to creating a welcoming and nurturing experience for patients, the real impact of Dental Hygienists is that they save lives. Dental Hygienists are on the front lines of oral health; given how much we know about the connection between oral health and systemic health, the value of the Dental Hygienist cannot be understated. This is why we created the #ShowUsYourPurple campaign – to express our gratitude and to deliver a rallying cry for this special group to celebrate one another.”
Hu-Friedy’s relationship with Dental Hygienists is more than surface-deep. Hu-Friedy has over 26 hygienists on staff, and works closely with many hygienists who are industry Key Opinion Leaders. Hu-Friedy works with their own hygienists and with Key Opinion Leaders to inform their understanding of dentistry, the needs of hygienists and patients, and to develop solutions and instruments in the best interest of clinician and patient alike.
On a somber note, this is the first Dental Hygiene month since the passing of Dr. Esther Wilkins. While we mourn the loss of Dr. Wilkins, we celebrate her life and the career she helped to shape. For many years, Dr. Wilkins, pioneer of dental hygiene, distinguished professor, and author of the seminal textbook, Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, was the leading voice of advancement for the dental hygiene profession. Dr. Wilkins was much beloved by hygienists around the world not only for her extensive knowledge, but for her approachable demeanor, her advocacy, and for her lasting impression on dentistry. Dr. Wilkins frequently collaborated with Hu-Friedy and others, doing so with her effervescent grin and signature purple glasses.
This year, in recognition of the fifth anniversary of #ShowUsYourPurple, the event will span five days: Oct. 16-20. The event will be bigger than ever, and hygienists are encouraged to wear as much purple as possible all week. Additionally, hygienists are encouraged to post pictures of themselves decked in purple to social media, using the hashtags #ShowUsYourPurple and #RDHStrong. Hu-Friedy will showcase these photos on their own social media channels. Meanwhile, Hu-Friedy will be dressed in purple all week, too.
Being a hygienist is so much more than prophy appointments and purple clothes. We all know this. However, we frequently find ourselves wondering aloud, "What does it really mean to be a part of the dental hygiene profession?" To that end, Hu-Friedy invites you to look to the excited, hopeful, aspirational voice of dental hygiene students. These students are the next wave of dental hygienists, and they are full of passion for their calling. When we asked "Why are you going into dental hygiene?" these are some of the enthusiastic responses we got in return:
Why have you gone into dental hygiene? Leave us your reasons in the comments section below. And don't forget to #ShowUsYourPurple, Oct. 16-20!