America's Dental Bookstore

(for instructions on using this site, see our home page)

America's Dental Bookstore

Dental Books
Anatomy Books Anesthesia & Sedation BooksBehavior of Patients
Clinical Dentistry & Treatment PlanningCosmetic Dentistry BooksDental Assisting Books
Dental EmergenciesDental Hygiene BooksDental MaterialsEndodontics
Fixed ProsthodonticsHistory of DentistryHumor ImplantologyLaboratory Technology
MicrobiologyOcclusion & TMJ BooksOral BiologyOral Pathology & Oral Medicine
Oral PhysiologyOral SurgeryOrthodonticsPediatric DentistryPeriodontics & Prevention
PharmacologyPractice ManagementPractice Mgmt. Finance & Regulations
Practice Mgmt. MarketingPractice Mgmt. TheoryPsychology & Patient AnxietyRadiology
Removable ProsthodonticsRestorative DentistryTest Preparation Books

Consumer Information Books
Amalgam & MercuryBraces Children's BooksGeneral Care & Misc. Books
Consumer Information About Cosmetic DentistryDental Articles

Anesthesia & Sedation ArticlesClinical Dentistry ArticlesCosmetic Dentistry ArticlesDental Assisting ArticlesDental Hygiene ArticlesDental Humor ArticlesDental Materials ArticlesEndodontics ArticlesFixed Prosthodontics ArticlesImplant ArticlesLaboratory Technology ArticlesOral Surgery ArticlesOrthodontics ArticlesPedodontics ArticlesPeriodontics and Prevention ArticlesPractice Finance & Regulations ArticlesPractice ManagementPractice Management - MarketingRadiologyTest PreparationTMJ and Occlusion Articles

The Hygienist's Role • Laser-assisted peridontial therapy

To browse America's Dental Bookstore huge selection of dental books, click here.

The hygienist's role in promoting dental treatment

A hygienist in a dental practice today has many roles. And there is a lot of time pressure on the hygienist. Many hygienists would like to spend more time educating patients but wonder when they can do this with a fixed allotment of time.

In a typical recare appointment, the hygienist has several types of issues that could be addressed with patients. Besides new issues discovered in the patient's mouth, there are often matters of previously diagnosed treatment that hasn't been completed. The hygienist could also explain to the patient how recent advances in dentistry, such as cosmetic dentistry or implants, could benefit the patient.

There is often a need to educate the patient about home care, especially with those patients who have periodontal disease. And the need for professional periodontal care can be ongoing.

Most dentists and their staff realize that there is more dentistry in their charts that has been diagnosed but not delivered than they will ever have time to do. Herein lies a great opportunity, and it's an opportunity for the hygienist.

According to dental practice consultant Cathy Jameson, dental patients have a very special relationship with their hygienist. They see the hygienist as a concerned third party who cares about their well-being and has earned their trust. And, especially with dentistry, treatment plan compliance relates very strongly to trust. While patients may trust the dentist and the other staff members, there is greater familiarity with the hygienist, hence a greater level of comfort and trust.

Cathy Jameson's husband, Dr. John Jameson, is a dentist. In his office, she says that they schedule an average of $3,000 to $5,000 worth of dental treatment from hygiene every day. This occurs in a small rural community in southern Oklahoma, with one hygienist. They give their hygienist time during the appointment to spend in education, so that they can accomplish this.

Are the systems in your dental practice conducive to patient education and optimum care? Systems in this situation would include not only allowing the hygienist enough time to interact with the patient, but also providing the necessary tools.

Cathy Jameson recommends that you analyze each hygiene appointment type and then determine what the ideal appointment length would be so that patient care and proper patient communication isn't compromised. You have adult and child prophylaxis appointments, various periodontal appointments, plus possibly sealants and bleaching appointments.

If you find that you aren't providing adequate time for education, then you need to seriously consider this question: Would the practice be better off trimming one patient a day from the hygiene schedule so that each patient could be encouraged to pursue treatment of their unmet dental needs? If you could generate $3000 to $5000 in treatment every hygiene day, would it be worth it to see one less hygiene patient per day? Think about it.

And it's not just a matter of increased revenue. The best reason for persuading patients to receive optimum dental care is that they have a need for that care. If a patient needs a crown and walks out your door without having that treatment done, and then later fractures that tooth to where it is unrestorable, part of the responsibility for that failure is on your shoulders, if you didn't do all you could to convince the patient to receive the needed care.

Presenting needed care

Learning occurs with hearing, but more with seeing. Thus, you need to provide the hygienist with the tools to adequately present the treatment. Intraoral cameras are invaluable in helping provide this. When a patient can see the problem, they are more likely to understand it.

However, be careful in the use of intraoral cameras. If you are using the intraoral camera solely to try to convince the patient of the need for treatment, you will turn them off. Dentistry is sold on the basis of trust, and any high-powered methods are going to be met with resistance. Use the intraoral camera primarily as a diagnostic tool, but allow the patient to see it.

Another very helpful tool is the multi-media patient education system. Caesy has an excellent program that will allow you or the patient to select a topic and then present it to the patient. You can combine the Caesy DVD system, a television monitor, and the intraoral camera on one compact cart and use this as your patient education center.

Provide your hygienist with the time and tools to properly educate your patients and not only will your patients benefit but your hygienist will feel like a more valued part of your team and your practice will reap financial rewards.

Does the hygienist have a valuable role as an educator? We think so.
Referenced article by Cathy Jamison is from Dental Economics October, 2004


More articles
America's Dental Bookstore maintains this collection of articles on dentistry submitted by visitors to our site. These could be clinical tips, research articles, opinion articles, dental jokes, or whatever. Do you have something you'd like to submit? If so, click here to submit an article.