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How to work with the experienced hygienist?

Hi I’m a newer RDH (2 years experience) who has work at a wonderful office for a year. I work with a hygienist who has almost 40 years of experience. Sometimes we share SRP patients and she says she finds calculus left. She will tell me that I left so much calculus and really discourages me about my skills. The dentists I work for are SO NICE and have never told me I’ve missed anything. I dont know if I’m really leaving calculus behind or if she is just being mean? I dont know how to deal with this co worker because I give a 100% every cleaning. I actually had a patient the other day who never had a cleaning ever and I had the dentist check my quadrant and she said “perfect”. I also kinda of fear that she might be telling the patients that I didnt do a good job. I dont know if I should address my problem with the dentists or just leave it alone. Thanks !

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1 Answer

This is a great question and took some time for me to think over because it’s a very tricky situation to be in. First off, if you are giving it your all with every cleaning and double checking your work you should know if you are leaving calculus behind. It sounds like you know this if the doctor isn’t detecting any missed deposits either. This means the other hygienist is criticizing you for the sake of criticizing you. If she was sincere in wanting to bring up these issues to help you improve as a hygienist, you would know it. She would take on a positive tone of mentorship and not leave you feeling discouraged.
Here’s where things get tricky though. If the hygienist has worked for the doctor for a long time and they have a close relationship, it can be difficult to bring up in a way where the doctor will see what is going on. I have been a situation very similar to this and it ended up being a lost cause trying to bring it up because the older hygienist was sweet as can be around the doctor.
My advice is to recognize that this hygienist has her own set of issues going on. Anybody who criticizes for the sake of criticizing is doing it because of their own issues, and not because of anything the person they are criticizing has done. If you are able to recognize this and look past her criticism then you should do that. There are a couple things that could happen: the older hygienist will see that she isn’t getting under your skin and will just give up. Or she’ll keep pushing until she does get under your skin. Once things start to feel hostile at work, you should bring this up with the doctor. Let him or her know how you are being made to feel and that it is making you uncomfortable. Say that you aren’t looking for any confrontation, you just want to feel comfortable in your work environment. If things continue or take a turn from the worse after that, let the doctor know again, but unfortunately it might be time to make a tough decision of looking for a new job.
Hopefully things don’t get to that point, but I wish you the very best of luck because this a difficult situation to be in.

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