Monday, March 31, 2008

What are you waiting for?

I always encourage dental hygienists from all over the country to put in an application for the Sunstar/RDH magazine Award of Distinction. So often, I hear hygienists say that they can't possibly apply for the award. Their excuses are just not good enough.

There are hygienists all over the country who are on fire about the dental hygiene profession. They are dedicated to helping people improve their lives through improved oral health. Sunstar is ready to treat eight more dental hygienists royally at this year's RDH Under One Roof conference. Are you ready for an experience of a lifetime?

If you have a passion for your profession, take the time to put your feelings down on paper and send your application in before March 31. If you've submitted before, dust off your old application, update your answers and let the folks at Sunstar and RDH know how passionate you are about our profession. Remember, you can't be honored if you don't apply!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reports from inside the GWCC

By Kevin Henry, editor, Proofs

Interview with John Bettencourt, vice president of marketing for Patterson Dental.

"Our booth had quite a bit of water damage as well as a large amount of soot. We did have some severe damage to our technology. Our technology will be brought back to our technology center to see what can be salvaged. It's hard to tell right now about our booth structure. Until the swelling on the booth goes down, we don't know what we'll be able to utilize and what we can't.

"We definitely will salvage what we can. We'll be meeting on Thursday to look at our options, and see what we need to do for the California meeting. We have some other regional setups we can use, and if we combine that with some rentals, we'll be OK for Anaheim.

"Leads were processed at our booth and nothing was lost in that respect.

"Honestly, we were looking at a new booth overall. Certainly this isn't the way you want to move along the project, but we will move forward. There's nothing we can do about what happened. We'll chalk it up and move our plans forward."

By Penny Anderson, senior editor, Dental Economics

Kathy Taylor is the director of trade shows and special events with Zila Pharmaceuticals. At 12 noon today, she and other exhibitors were allowed back into the exhibit hall at the Georgia World Congress Center.

“At first, it didn’t look that bad.” said Taylor. “The holes had been temporarily patched and the carpet rolled up. But as you continued in, you became aware of just how devastating it was, and while some areas and booths were not structurally damaged, others had a lot of damage.”

Taylor said the worst damage was on the right side of the aisle where the higher-numbered booths were. “The biggest hole in the roof was right above the Patterson booth, and that booth sustained a lot of damage. The wind came through the wall on the back and blew over the lightweight pop-up booths.

“We had two booths. The one in the 700 aisles was not damaged. The booth in the 1700 aisle was covered with dirt and debris, but it has been determined to be structurally sound. Many booth had a lot of water damage as well as dirt and debris.”

“There were a lot of labor people lined up to file into the arena as we did when the exhibit hall opened, and everybody went right to work to clean things up. We had planned to retire one of our booth for the year after this meeting, so that was good. The other booth will be wiped down and cleaned up and sent on to the California Dental Meeting, our next show.”

From John T. O'Brien III, Southeast Regional Sales Manager, A-dec Corp.

A-dec survived this disaster with minimal damage. As the result of the outstanding efforts of our corporate exhibit team (Bill Staser and Linda Turnidge) and the local A-dec Territory Managers (Clint Campbell, Perry Greenway, Chad Mohon and Mark Pontarelli), we were able to finishing packing our booth by 5:30PM EST yesterday (Wednesday, March 18). The transportation trucks departed with our booth at 10:00AM this morning (Thursday March 19). This was very important as a strong storm with heavy winds and rain are expected today in the metro Atlanta area.

There was significant damage to the back wall of the Georgia World Congress Center in the concession area as well as several large holes in the ceiling. The Patterson booth took a heavy hit and several other exhibits were water damaged. The water main break that was widely shown on television was actually in Exhibit Hall C while the Hinman Meeting Exhibits were located in Hall A.

It is A-dec policy to not leave our leads or sales bags in the booth overnight. As a result, we are not concerned about lost information as it pertains to sales.

This was a devastating storm and one that nobody will soon forget. We are confident that the 2009 Hinman Dental Meeting will be bigger than ever. We believe this because of the fortitude of the Hinman management and staff, it’s manufacturing partners and the dental community it serves.

GWCC to let exhibitors back in .. and attendee refund information


We have received notice from the Georgia World Congress Center that it is now safe to re-enter the Exhibit Hall. You may begin entering the hall on Tuesday, March 18 at 12:00 noon ET. Aisle carpet will have already been removed at this point in time and your empty storage containers will be returned to your booth beginning at 12 noon on March 18th. We have scheduled access for the hall on Tuesday (3/18) from
12 noon-10:00 p.m. The hall will be open on Wednesday (3/19) and Thursday (3/20) from 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Please visit the Shepard website for the dismantling notice regarding move out procedures and how to access the hall. There will be security guards there to check you in. Please bring your name badge and photo identification. There will be no access through the Main Entrance.

If you are assigning authority to another individual or organization (other than Shepard), we need that from you, in writing, via email (

Thank you for working with us in this challenging situation.

Also coming from the Hinman folks, news that refunds will be given on tickets for Saturday hands-on courses. The refunds will be given to ticket-holders in the manner the ticket (credit card, etc.) was bought within six weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stunned on Saturday in Atlanta

By Ted Anibal, assistant editor, Dental Economics

Jennifer M. Riggs is the Front Desk Coordinator for the Peachtree Smile Center located at 2045 Peachtree Road in Atlanta. She was scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. Continuing Education course on Saturday at the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting held at the Georgia World Congress Center downtown. Riggs had not listened to news broadcasts that morning nor heard any warning sirens when the tornado hit on Friday night. She discovered the devastation firsthand as she approached the downtown area and was repeatedly detoured by police barricades. Riggs never made it to the GWCC, and became very concerned about her office and the safety of her co-workers. As she was attempting to navigate the downtown streets strewn with broken glass and debris, a friend called Riggs’ cell phone to check on her safety. At that point, Riggs pulled into a church parking lot near the State Capitol and wept as she was finally overcome by the extent and severity of the tornado damage. Riggs reported that she made it out of the downtown area safely and confirmed that her office and co-workers were safe. This morning (Monday, March 17), Riggs was on the job fielding phone calls from patients who sustained injuries or damage to their homes and must reschedule their dental appointments.

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down …

Map is courtesy of

By Penny E. Anderson
Senior Editor
Dental Economics

Del Webb, DDS, a noted speaker on dental insurance and former columnist for DE, survived some harrowing moments at the Hinman Dental Meeting when an uninvited guest — a tornado — showed up.

Dr. Webb arrived at the Hinman Wednesday night and spoke Thursday and Friday on insurance coding and fee management. After his last lecture, he went out to dinner with his host from the Hinman, and then returned to his hotel, the Omni Hotel on top of the CNN Center in the middle of downtown Atlanta.

“I was in Room 1538, recalls Dr. Webb, “in a corner room with a veranda and a sliding glass door. It was about 9 p.m. when I got back to my room. I turned on the TV, sat on the edge of one of the beds, and watched the SEC Conference basketball tournament. As I was watching the game, a crawl came across the screen from the National Weather Service, announcing a tornado warning for Fulton County. I knew that was Atlanta.

“I opened up my sliding glass door and it looked like conditions were ripe for a tornado. I had lived in Dallas before, so I knew about tornadic conditions. Below, I could see the police were out in force and about a dozen motorcyles were lined up . . . a few moments later, all those motorcycles were tipped over by the high winds. I left the sliding glass door open and opened the door to my room because I knew that was the best things to do.

“About 9:42, the wind started whipping through the room, and I knew that was a bad sign. We found out later that the winds during that period were at 135 mph. But then, just as suddenly, the wind stopped and I knew that was a worse sign.

There were two beds in the room and I was on the bed furthest from the bathroom, and I knew the bathroom would be the best place to be. So, I started heading for the bathroom. I got to the side of the second bed, and something just told me to 'get down now.' I tried to get under the floor of the bed closest to the bathroom, but I just couldn't get my body all the way under it.

“The next thing I knew, what I thought was a picture off the wall hit me on the back of the head and I was trapped. I tried to push the picture off my head and shoulders, but I couldn't lift it. I could see lights coming from outside the door of my room and into the hallway.

“I started slowly crawling, trying to pull myself out from under the picture frame. I finally was able to stand up and when I did, I saw that what I had assumed was a picture frame was an entire wall in one sheet, including the wood support and frame. I realized I had no serious injuries and was so grateful when I saw what had fallen on top of me.

“As they went by my room, people would ask if I was OK and I told them I was. Some even took pictures of my room. Everyone was polite and trying to be helpful.

About 40 minutes later, some firemen came into the room and one of them said, You're out of here, boy!” I started to reach for my bags and he said, “You're out of here; the bags stay.” The firemen walked me down 15 floors of stairs to the ballroom downstairs. They had us stay in the ballroom about three hours. The wife of one of the doctors who was attending the meeting was picking glass out of her feet as a result of the high winds blowing out the glass in the windows into their room. She had no shoes on.

“About 1:30 a.m., they told us we could go back to our rooms and get our stuff. I wasn't scheduled to leave Atlanta until the next morning, so I didn't know what else to do but stay in my room in the condition it was it. But another doctor just down the hall came in to my room to tell me he and his wife were leaving right then and that their room was untouched and I was more than welcome to use it.

“When I went down to the room, the doctor’s wife said even though there were two beds in the room, they had only slept in one, so one had clean sheets on it. Clean sheets were the last thing I was worried about at that point, but I thought that was really nice of her.

“The hotel sent up someone to check on me, make sure I didn’t need medical attention or anything else. Although the wall fell on my head, thankfully there were no injuries.

“At 6 a.m. the next morning, I got into a car to take me to the airport and I had an uneventful flight home. For that, I was most grateful.”

And how has this experience left Dr. Webb? He smiles and says, “When you know that no one was seriously injured, it makes the whole thing a fun adventure.”

These dentists are tough in the eye of danger!

Dental Economics Editor recalls tornado at Hinman

Everyone who attended the 2008 Hinman Dental Meeting will never forget where they were at 9:40 pm on Friday night. That was when a totally unannounced tornado slammed into the Atlanta downtown smashing into the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Conference Center (GWCC) and the Omni Hotel. Approximately 8,000 people were watching a basketball game in the Georgia Dome that was tied after regulation. It was during the overtime that the tornado struck, causing a tear in the fabric roof and debris that showered down on the court and the crowd. If that game had ended on time, all of those people would have been on the streets when the tornado hit.

I was having dinner with my son Marty, Genna Leutzinger, and several friends at the Ruth's Chris Steak House in the Embassy Suites Hotel next to Centennial Olympic Park, when a thunderstorm moved into the area with a fascinating lightning and thunder show. Then the rain started and quickly became a downpour. The tornado quickly followed. We did not realize it was a tornado until we left the restaurant and began walking back to the Omni Hotel where we were all staying. As we turned the corner we could see the tremendous amount of damage to the Omni and the CNN Center. The street was covered with at least two inches of glass, cars were overturned, cars were abandoned on the street with the windows all blown out, hotel windows were gone, and the drapes were waving in the wind and people were wandering around.

We got into the hotel by way of the motor lobby and made our way to the entrance to the CNN Center. The security people and police were blocking the entrance to the stairways. I was worried about my laptop computer that was sitting on my desk about two feet away from the window. Luckily, the hotel did not loose electrical power so we had light. After about a half an hour, we were able to make our way to the third floor lobby and the stairway. We climbed to the ninth floor and checked out Genna’s room, which was ok. Then Marty and I climbed to the 14th floor to our room. We opened the door and immediately saw that my laptop had survived but the center window had blown into the room leaving a huge pile of glass on the carpet. We packed and moved out of the room.

The Hinman Dental Meeting was cancelled early the next morning and we were all lucky to get flights out Saturday morning. The destruction was even more evident in the daylight. Amazingly, no one was killed! God was certainly looking out for his people Friday night.

- Joe Blaes, DDS

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Photo from Craig Dickson in Atlanta

Craig Dickson, the publisher of RDH magazine submitted this photo, saying, "Here is a photograph of the blown-out window at the restaurant we were eating. Very exciting experience for all of us."

Details and eyewitness descriptions from Atlanta

David Hurlbrink, regional sales manager for PennWell…
March 15, 12 noon ET
We were eating at City Grill in downtown Atlanta last night (March 14). We were sitting there eating and we heard a tremendous noise, almost like a freight train. We wondered what it was. Suddenly, glass blew in on the people’s table across the table. They dove for cover. My initial reaction was tornado because I thought I had heard wind. We heard a roar. The restaurant staff took us to a hallway where they thought it would be safer. People were fairly calm, but some were shaken up. Afterwards, we heard a lot of sirens and the restaurant staff was telling us it was coming back again in around 10 minutes. Stayed there for about 10 minutes, then meandered back to table. We finished dinner, then once we went outside, we saw all the damage. You know the bronze plaques on historic buildings? One was halfway ripped out of the wall. We were directed by fire and police to stay off certain roads because of tree and sidewalk damage. We walked back to the Westin where some friends were staying, but they weren’t letting anyone upstairs. We went to the Marriott and everything seemed OK.

From Kristine Hodsdon, eVillage director…
March 15, 12:15 p.m. ET
I have heard that the roof collapsed in Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC, home of the Hinman Meeting) around the 2000 aisle. We have been told that pretty much everything in the exhibit hall is going to have some kind of water damage. The exhibitor committee is meeting with structural engineers and going through the GWCC at the moment to see the damage and to see when people can be let back in.

From Kim Ryan, public relations and marketing manager for the Hinman Dental Meeting...
March 15, 1:30 p.m. ET
The Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Hotel at CNN Center are not allowing people to hold any kind of meeting, therefore the remainder of the Hinman Dental Meeting has been canceled. The GWCC is structurally unsound and exhibitors will not be allowed back into the building for at least 48 hours. We will know more on Monday.

Exhibit Hall A (where the Hinman exhibit hall was located) was hit the hardest by the storm. Parts of the roof have been torn off and there has been water damage to the exhibits in the hall.

Official release from Hinman Dental Meeting
March 16, 10:15 a.m.
Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting
The safety of the attendees and exhibitors of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting is our primary concern at this time. Due to extensive damage sustained by both the Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Hotel at CNN Center - the site of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting -- we will not be able to continue the meeting on Saturday, March 15.

According to Dan Graveline, Executive Director of the Georgia World Congress Center, for the purposes of safety, people cannot be allowed to return to the facility.

In addition, Gary Froeba, Regional Vice President and Managing Director of the Omni Hotel at CNN Center , has advised us that the Omni Hotel at CNN Center is currently occupying guest rooms that have no damage to the windows. Guests with window damage are being relocated to hotels throughout the city. The Omni Hotel is no longer taking reservations or conducting meetings until further notice.

The organizers of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting will actively communicate with both attendees and exhibitors in the days ahead. We appreciate everyones patience and understanding during this time.

From Kim Ryan, public relations and marketing manager for the Hinman Dental Meeting...
March 17, 10 a.m. ET
The assessment of the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) will be completed today (Monday, March 17) and an announcement will be made at 4:30 p.m. ET regarding when exhibitors can access the GWCC. The GWCC will give every exhibitor ample time to perform their moveout.

Right now, it is estimated that the GWCC will be closed to the public for at least two weeks because of the estimated $100-$150 million in damages to the facility.

From Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 17, 11:30 am ET
The Hinman meeting generates about $26 million in revenue for Atlanta.

Stay tuned for further updates. We’ll keep you updated…

Were you in Atlanta for the Hinman and the tornado?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the citizens of Atlanta and the surrounding cities this morning as they deal with the aftermath of a tornado. If you were in Atlanta for the Hinman Meeting, or live and/or practice in Atlanta, and would like to share your storm story, we'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why do dental assistants get snubbed at trade shows?

I recently posed that question to dental assistants around the country through my Dental Assisting Digest e-newsletter and through my MySpace page ( I travel to trade shows around the country and often speak to dental assistant groups during my trip. I often hear about a lack of respect for the DAs in the exhibit hall. One of my MySpace dental assistant friends from Arkansas relayed the following story to me...

The two times in the past that my office went to the Hinman Dental Convention in Atlanta, all us assistants were treated as if we didn't exist even when I told them that I did all the ordering for the entire office. Salespeople literally turned their head away from me or spoke directly to the dentist/hygienist that I was with without ever looking me in the eye! Also, assistants are never offered the free samples and "goodies." Everyone knows that the "goodies" are half the fun of a trade show! And with assistants doing the ordering, I would think that these companies would want the samples in the hands of those in the position to influence the office. These companies cater towards the dentists and the hygienists when the reality is that neither of those positions do the ordering 99% of the time. Even with new products, it is usually me who brings it up at staff meetings, etc for discussion. What is up with that?!?!

So I pose the question to you dentists and hygienists reading this ... what is up with that? Who does the ordering in your office? Is it the assistant? Are these ladies worthy of being treated with respect at dental shows? If not, why, in your opinion?

Assistants who read this ... have you been treated differently at a trade show because you were an assistant. Let me know by replying to this blog or dropping me an email at

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why news in Dunn County matters to you

My favorite dental hygiene story of the day comes from the Dunn County News in Eau Claire region of Wisconsin. You should read it for yourself ( A local project received a grant of almost $70,000 so that a dental hygienist in the area can improve the access to care for the developmentally disabled.

This kind of thing is happening all over the country. So it's good that dental hygienists are delivering the goods after talking for years about how access to care can be expanded.

A couple of things on my mind this morning:

1.) As a somewhat distant observer of dental hygiene (sitting in front of a computer in Tulsa, OK), I tend to think of dental hygienists in Michigan and Wisconsin as fighting uphill battles all the time ... a surplus of hygienists struggling for leverage in the marketplace. So it's nice to me to see this story out of Wisconsin, because this is where the cutting edge is for the profession.

2.) I gave you the Web site for the article above. You're likely not from Dunn County, if you're reading this on the Internet. But a larger percentage of newspapers are allowing readers to directly comment on a story on that site, rather than having a forum or "letters to the editor" on a different part of the site. Hygienists talk all the time about getting the attention of the public on dental hygiene issues.

Is there a better place than the "post a comment" section in a newspaper to offer your opinion about dentistry, particularly if it's dental hygiene that's been shown in a good light? You don't have to be from Dunn County to get excited.

Say something.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Most creative nickname for grandma/hygienist

I was checking the news this morning for references to dental hygienists. This is actually a nice story. A "who's who" directory called Cambridge fondly wished a pleasant retirement for a Georgia hygienist, Linda Hammond (

Linda hung it up after 28 years, and we certainly join the crowd in wishing her happiness.

But there was a reference to her plans of spending more time with her grandsons. And they call her ... "Hootinanny."

I had to laugh. Hootinanny is arguably the most creative nickname I have heard for a grandmother/dental hygienist.

It's Dental Assistants Recognition Week

The staff of Dental Economics, Woman Dentist Journal, RDH, Dental Office, and Dental Assisting Digest remind you that this week (March 2-8) is Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW), a time to recognize the contributions of these valuable team members. This week, we encourage you to take a few moments to say thank you, write a note, give a card, buy a lunch, or whatever you feel is an appropriate way to let these valuable members of your team know they are appreciated. Also, if you're a dentist or hygienist, encourage your dental assistant to sign up for PennWell's free monthly e-newsletter, Dental Assisting Digest. Log on to to sign up for this free e-newsletter.