Realizing success in hygiene is not out of reach. I have found that many hygienists really want to be more productive, but they don’t know what they can do differently day to day. To realize potential in hygiene, we must be sure that we are maximizing the three roles of a modern day dental hygienist. Hygiene Diamonds helps hygiene providers know what to do to achieve maximum potential within these roles:
Dental hygienists have a significant responsibility to be focused on the prevention of disease. We are the only health professional who is given the primary role of prevention, and the ADA considers many patients high risk. Those who consistently struggle with chronic decay are frustrated: they do not want cavities, they are tired of always having problems with their teeth, and they are very interested in preventive options. Utilizing CAMBRA (caries management by risk assessment) is key to not only helping patients prevent the infection of decay, but also to help build value for preventive services.
If we are truly maximizing preventive therapy in hygiene, a nice thing happens to productivity: it goes up drastically.
Many consultants and hygiene speakers focus heavily on periodontal therapy, as it is a critical component in the life of a dental hygienist. However, it is not uncommon to see a practice that is still treating periodontal infection today with the same strategies and technology that they were using five years ago, sometimes even 10 years ago. This is truly alarming! Many things have changed. We now have better tools, better science about what causes periodontal infection, and we know how to drastically reduce it. We know so much more about the oral-systemic link and serious health risks that exist with the presence of inflammation in the body.
If we are truly maximizing potential in our role as a periodontal therapist, we are seeing periodontal disease, talking about it, and treating it. In our program, we help practices know what to do differently, how to achieve higher acceptance from patients for periodontal procedures, and how to better incorporate new technology to better serve their patients.
Patient Treatment Advocate
Hygienists often underestimate what a critical role we have in helping our patients make choices about the dentistry they need. How many times have patients turned to the hygienist, or another clinical team member to ask, “Do I really need to have this done?” or “How long can I wait before I get this taken care of?” The reality is, patients do want the team’s opinion and recommendations when it comes to the choices they have about treatment.
We also teach providers how to embrace and incorporate technology that aids us in better maximizing this role. Verbal skills, knowing which questions to ask and helping the patient decide which option best accomplishes their goals are what we are aiming for in developing this role. Presenting treatment and having the patient choose better dentistry can be incredibly rewarding.
It is also extremely rewarding to see a hygiene department begin to steadily increase their productivity. As we offer a higher level of service and give our patients the opportunity to choose more, the production will take care of itself. Hygienists become re-energized and incredibly confident in their ability to impact someone’s life for the better. As this happens, we find the entire practice is able to leverage the impact. Navigating the challenging waters of dental practice today is easier when you have a productive hygiene department.