Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Do You Garden?


One of the things a dental hygienist must do in order to establish a good rapport with her patients is to be able to relate to them and engage them in conversation that conveys that they aren't just a mouth. They are a real person that you care about in a professional way, but also are interested in as a human being.

I've had the pleasure over the past 30 years of getting to know many, many patients and their families and I love it that I am now treating the children of patients that were children themselves when I first started working in the office where I am currently employed. It doesn't even make me feel old saying that!

There are a few standard questions I ask when getting to know someone for the first time and on occasion in the last few years, one of them has been "Do you garden?" There are actually a few ways to ask this question and depending on which one you choose, you might get different answers. Whether you live in the city or the country might determine how the question gets answered, too.

If I asked, "Do you garden?" I might hear back, "Just vegetables," or "Just flowers." The same response might be gotten by asking, "Are you a gardener?" Around here, people are more likely to assume that gardening means growing vegetables, and if you ask, "Do you put out a garden?" it definitely means vegetables.

While I'm sensitive to these nuances in meaning, if you asked me if I'm a gardener, I would answer, "Oh yes," and then be sure to tell you that I grow both vegetables and flowers. This doesn't mean that someone who does one or the other but not both is any less of a gardener, it's just an indication that we should never assume what the answer to our question really means.

And since this question begs further exploration and conversation once it's asked, one other thing I have learned over the years is to only ask it when the appointment is finished and my patient is free to answer properly. Although I really can understand "gauze talk."

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gauze talk - noun. The language spoken by dental patients when they have the dentist's, assistant's, or hygienist's hands in their mouth and they are unable to speak clearly. So named for the garbled speech a patient has while biting on gauze after a tooth extraction.

18 comments:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

gardeners version of "how do you like this weather?"

Shady Gardener said...

Ah, yes. Gauze talk! ;-) Something that must take lots of practice... When I find myself in that position only twice a year (usually), I don't seem to get better at it!

It is awfully nice to have a personable hygienist. I'm sure you're good at it.

Carol said...

I'm going to see the dentist and dental hygienest tomorrow. I think I'll ask them if THEY garden. They do have some nice plantings viewable out the windows to look at while you are getting your teeth cleaned, complete with bird feeders. It's a nice setting.

And my Dad was a dentist. He was a gardener, but more often asked his patients if they fished!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Cabs said...

Interesting how our passion for gardening emerges in so many ways! I just found your blog thru botanical and spent a bit of time browsing. Spring is coming - Yeah!
I love the monarch's!
Stop in for a visit, Carol
terranovadesign@blogspot.com

Blackswamp_Girl said...

So... is the young gentleman in the picture a gardener? :)

beckie said...

I knew that in the midwest people who put out a garden grew veggies...but you explained it and the rest of the nuances so well! And thanks for the definition of gauze talk. I'll ask my hygientist if she knows what that means:)

Sky said...

how i hate the guaze talk - but they always seem to understand me somehow! ;-)

Frances, said...

How timely a post for me, went to the dentist yesterday for the biannual cleaning and we spoke of gardening. She hated spring! I was taken aback and had just said how I loved spring, being a gardener. She went on to explain that she had such severe allergies brought on by the flowers, and could breathe better in summer! Poor thing, no garden talk for her. It made me think of her as a person as well, from the patient's view point, like you think of your patients as real people. How sad to not be able to enjoy flowers at all much less garden. I suggested a water garden, she said her own mother was always after her to get out and garden! Or a rock garden?
Thanks for making us think, once again!
Frances at Faire Garden

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kylee, you look so pretty in that dark pink!

I don't particularly care for gauze talk either. I'm sure that you would make even something as uncomfortable as that enjoyable!

Meems said...

My dental hygienist loves birds- she has placed some feeders outside the windows of the office and we talk about those together. She usually chit-chats prior to the cleaning.

My dentist on the other hand is quite funny and he talks away while gauze is inserted- that way he is the only one doing the talking. I just laugh.

Nice of you to find common ground with your patients. Gardening is a great equalizer and provides much material for friendly discussion.

Meems @ HoeandShovel.blogspot

Kylee said...

Aunt Debbie/Kurt's mom ~ Exactly right! Actually, I start out with the weather, which is a great lead-in to the gardening subject!

Shady Gardener ~ Well, I have been at it for a long time and I've worked in the same office for a long time, too, so it feels really good when I go to get a patient from the reception area and they greet me with, "Oh good, I got you." :-)

Carol ~ I didn't know your dad was a dentist! Very cool! Since I have an Indiana license, I could have worked for him! ;-) A bit of a drive though...

Carol ~ Welcome to Our Little Acre! Isn't Blotanical great? I sure will visit your blog soon! Actually, I have visited once - yesterday, I think it was - but I'll be back so I can look more.

Kim ~ Knowing that young man, I wouldn't be surprised!

Beckie ~ Let me know what your hygienist says!

Sky ~ We have a whole class in college about Gauze Talk. Really! No, not really, but it's kind of like mothers and their children. What sounds like a foreign language to other people is quite understandable to us!

Frances ~ Oh, Frances, how horrible for your dentist! I wonder if she is also allergic to trees and grass? I mean, with all those things around much of the time, would flowers or veggies make much difference?

Robin ~ Thank you! We don't wear those scrubs anymore. Now we have brown ones with turquoise and beige dots. We have different ones for each day of the week.
I hope my patients all think that way about me! ;-)

jodi said...

That's fun, Kylee! I get doctors asking ME about gardening (it's hilarious to go to a specialist I've never met and have them know who I am and ask about gardening stuff). and um....I'm wayyyyy due to go see my dentists (I have a husband-wife team) so you've reminded me I'd best call them!

Randy and Jamie said...

You guys really are very good at translating gauze talk! I marvel at the ability of my hygienist to understand my mumbling
-Randy

Muum said...

Lol about 'putting out a garden'- havent' heard thatsince I left Ohio!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I would never have thought that such a simple question could be so complicated. By my definition, anyone who nurtures plants, any type, any where, is a garden. I'm lucky because my dentist's rooms look out over a beautiful garden that has something to look at (& occupy my mind) during every season.

Pam/Digging said...

I just went to the dentist today. Kylee, you have a great smile---a good advertisement for the dentist you work for.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Gauze talking is what I'll be doing shortly. :-(

My dental hygienist is a gardener too!

vonlafin said...

I have landscaped both my dentist, and his hygienist's homes. It is not often that you are able to earn back all of the money you have spent on your mouth over the years! :)

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