Let’s be frank.
The real value of a great dental hygienist for a dental office is her ability to help the dentist in finding defects and decay in the mouths of the patients that she sees and treats. Her true worth is her ability to plant the seeds in the patients’ minds as to what sort of treatment they may need to rectify any such defects.
There. I said it.
You see, many many years ago, I came into my hygienist’s treatment room to do a hygiene check, or examination, on one of her patients.
As soon as the patient opened wide, there, as plain as the nose on your face, was a huge gaping defect on a lower right second molar, where the whole mesio-lingual cusp had been sheared right clean off and away!!
Now you couldn’t miss this, because on top of this, the lower right first molar had been previously removed.
So it was pretty well obvious…
Like I said, it just jumped straight out at you!
So I said to this lady, the patient: “Oh wow! You’ve got a broken tooth down there!” to which she replied back to me, with clear amazement in her voice:
“Oh, have I?”
Well knock me down with a feather!!
“Oh, have I?”
Oh have I indeed!!
Please help me up off the floor as I recovered.
What hit me there and then was that my wonderful new hygienist had just been visiting for an hour in this lady’s mouth and had not even raised, asked or mentioned to the patient a question or point or observation that a huge piece of tooth was missing from her body.
“Excuse me Mrs. Patient. I see you have a piece of tooth missing from down here?”
“Excuse me Mrs. Patient, are you experiencing any discomfort from down here where there’s a piece of your tooth missing?”
Not a peep.
Zero. Zip. Nil.
My wonderful new hygienist had not mentioned or raised the broken tooth with the patient at all.
And then it hit me.
The dental hygienist has such a great opportunity to detect, observe and collect and collate a list of defects and decay that she sees in the patient’s mouth during their hygiene visit.
Reinforcing this fact, I received the comment below from a colleague, Kristin Nickells, following on from her reading last week’s blog post, Is Your Hygiene Department A Profit Centre?
“That of course is not taking into consideration that your hygiene department should be your front line marketing tool, planting the seeds of treatment options, questions to ask the dentists, and following up with benefits (all to a captive audience!). THAT is where the real gold comes in.”
As Kristin points out, the hygiene visit is a great opportunity for the hygienist to alert the patient to those things that she sees that she is going to bring to the attention of the dentist.
Because let’s face it, she’s in there for such a long period of time, and has the trust of the patient. So it makes good sense for her to act as the doctor’s second set of eyes, so that when the doc comes in to do the examination, the hygienist can have a complete list of defects and spots that she wants the doc to pass opinion on.
After all, the hygienist is a dental professional. An educated dental professional.
And patients do trust her.
And she does know what decay can look like. And a crack. And a margin deficiency.
So there’s no reason at all, why during the performance of her hygiene duties, that she can’t alert the patient to a list of things that she’s seen that she thinks the doctor will need to check.
Because we know, that there are some parts of the world where dental hygienists cannot diagnose….
But they can ask the doctor to review some things that they’ve seen..
A great dental hygienist will have a thorough and complete list ready for the doc on each and every patient.
And this makes everybody’s life so much easier.
Next week I’ll discuss some absolutely brilliant ways that I’ve seen where a hygienist can even go Above and Beyond for her patient and for her Doc.
Well structured productive hygiene is one key part of building and operating The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.
Email me: david@theUPE.com
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