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3 Reasons Your Patients Have A Dental Cleaning Mindset

3 Reasons Your Patients Have A Dental Cleaning Mindset

3 Reasons Your Patients Have A Dental Cleaning Mindset

In 2007, I decided to write a book on how assisted hygiene would work in a dental practice, titled “Just a Cleaning? Breakthrough Methods to Maximize Patient Care and the Bottom Line”. My hope was to begin a movement in our profession by extinguishing those first 3 words. Fast forward to 2016, where I witnessed a local commercial encouraging viewers to call the practice for their “cleaning”. Yes, the struggle for all that legally encompasses your dental hygiene visit is very real.

There are 3 reasons your patients continue to have this mindset:

1. You are not teaching your patients

Why do your patients believe it is just a cleaning? Do they know all that is encompassed in the dental hygiene visit? Could they list what is accomplished other than x-rays, scraping, and polishing teeth?

You and your team are responsible for what you teach your patients. When it comes to the valuable services you are providing them with, it’s up to you to educate them.

Think of it this way: do you remember your first time in Starbucks? They taught you their language when it came to the size of your drink. And if you said small, medium, or large, the barista confirmed your choice with their language – tall, grande, or venti. They taught us their culture. Years later, what do we say when we order? You can do the same thing in your practice by communicating clearly with your patients on what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what the benefit will be for them.

2. Your Message Isn’t Clear

What words or actions reflect the service your dental hygiene team provides your patients? Consider health, wellness and prevention.

Even if you are not taking blood pressure, consider discussing additional health conditions that are not on the health history template such as:

  • dangers of e-cigs/vaping and hookah,
  • HPV vaccine,
  • recognizing medications that are linked to heart disease,
  • recording all 6 areas of periodontal pocketing at least once per year,
  • sharing nutrition choices and impact on caries risk,
  • documenting recession and making recommendations for oral hygiene, or dispensing oral hygiene products.

When your message is clear, you dissolve their fear for joining you on the the highway to health!

3. You are treating it as “just a cleaning”

What is accomplished in the 60 minute hygiene appointment? Do your patients feel like a number? Have you asked them? If the hygiene visit is a quick assembly line, it is a drive-thru service whose message is to actively choose to ignore the existence of chronic diseases, side effects of lifestyle choices or health conditions and more.

Be relentless in your communication to emphasize the added value you provide them, infuse current news from your publications or CE programs. All patients deserve to know.

Personally, I believe the word for a dental hygiene visit is wellness. Think I’m crazy? I challenge you to go to Twitter and hash tag two words. #teethcleaning and #wellness. It won’t take you long to realize which word unleashes the value of health or abundance of areas oral health is linked. This exercise may be the first step to share with your team and your patients in understanding why the meaning of a dental hygiene visit spans far beyond a “cleaning”.

Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist

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