5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Hygiene Production
Recently, I read a post by a dentist sharing an experience from his own appointment with the dental hygienist. To my surprise, the word used to describe this valuable service was “cleaning”. I’m aware that patients continue to call their dental hygiene visit a cleaning, but we dental professionals shouldn’t support the misnomer by simply being lazy in our language.
While a dental hygiene appointment can be packed with value for your patients, it can be equally productive for your practice. Below are 5 ways to increase your hygiene production that are far, far from a cleaning.
Your dental practice is a brand – your brand. And while your services reflect your brand, you must ensure that your content on social media, newsletters, your website, and the language used throughout your entire team sends the same, positive message. Dental hygiene visits embrace prevention, co-diagnosis, case presentation, case acceptance, therapeutic services, etc. So as you look back at your own practice, think to yourself, “Are we sending the right message to our patients?”.
Downtime Can Be Productive
Downtime is bound to happen. Encourage your staff to use that downtime to check the schedule. One patient, who may be currently on the restorative side or coming in for restorative work may be due for an update in radiographs, a comprehensive periodontal charting, or home care product consulting or dispensing. This is where your communication comes back into play. You could say, “Anastasia, I noticed that you are due for us to update your periodontal charting. While Dr. Rice is working with another patient, would it work for you to get those measurements completed today?” This can be done for any service your dental hygienist can legally perform! And even better, it helps increase your production without coming off as pushy to your patients.
Forget “sugar bugs” – an active bacterial infection isn’t cute. Follow the ADA guidelines for categories of risk, inform patients where they are in this category and document. It is a nice segway into applying adult fluoride varnish and, spark a discussion how to prevent this infection or take control of it. Again, communication is key!
Two words connected to most every facet of your patients’ lives. Yes, I’m suggesting for you to be a perio-profiler. Your patients KNOW about gum disease, yet if they still view dental hygiene services as a cleaning, why pay more for the same hour of power. Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection and that alone separates the boys from the men in reference to a cleaning. It demands more time. It requires instruments and technology that are updated to treat and monitor. It requires dispensable oral hygiene home care products.
Oral Cancer Screening
Take time to fully provide intra-oral and extra-oral screenings. Discuss all of the risk factors. Initiate a collaboration with an OBGYN to educate on HPV and how it isn’t only associated with cervical cancer.
The key to hygiene production is to be relentless in how your brand is recognized by your team and your patients. Can you tolerate a dental hygiene department that is unproductive? No! Empower your dental hygienists, engage your patients on the value of prevention and health-centered dental hygiene services, and expect a change in production.
Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist