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Demystifying Smiles: Strategies for the Dental Team

Today’s dental patients are as concerned with the appearance of their smiles as they are with oral health. Whether they are looking for Hollywood smiles or just wanting to correct minor problems, the dental team that is well versed in the art of esthetics can make their dreams become realities and ensure a financially healthy practice!

Demystifying Smiles: Strategies for the Dental Team will help dental teams adapt to and profit from the latest changes in esthetic dentistry and hygiene. Learn the fundamentals of cosmetic dentistry, dental assisting, and dental hygiene, so team members can reinvent themselves and develop new roles for themselves and their teams—all in support of the practice and its clients!


• Glossary of terms covers basic definitions that will help clarify esthetic and restorative options. This will provide team members with an enhanced ability to pre-diagnose the possibilities of the dental outcome and allow them to assist the dentist in differentiation diagnosis.

• Topics within each chapter are showcased in various avenues: Guest essays, “Kristineology”, strategy tips, and action steps at the end of each chapter will help you create your own professional game plan.

About the Author

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS is a successful esthetic hygienist who presents nationally to audiences. She is the developer of Pre-D Systems, a pre-diagnostic smile analysis software tool for the professional team. Kristine writes the monthly column “Esthetic Hygiene” in RDH Magazine. She authors numerous articles, holds an adjunct dental hygiene faculty position, and has served on the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners. Kristine has also held dental hygiene leadership positions and her corporate responsibilities have covered sales, training, program development and education.

Book Excerpt (first 3 pages):


This Understanding the Bigger Picture
The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are
likely to see. • Winston Churchill

Show Up, Connect, and Infect
My observation is that many team members are not
clear on what they want for themselves professionally and
do not actually know what business their practices are in.
Getting a plan established that consistently provides comprehensive
restorative, aesthetic, and periodontal care
takes a true team. It takes a shared vision, and it takes
independent knowledge.
Success means many different things to many people.
Our vision of success is usually measured by our own set
of values and goals. Our individual values and goals make
up our personal and professional vision.
So, it is discouraging for me to hear that a team member
feels pressure to “sell” cosmetic services, or is having
some personal conflicts with the office demands. Rallying
the practice troops to take sides, or attempting to undermine
the doctor/owner, will not solve anything. You, as
an individual, must discover what business you are in.
Some or all of the following questions may help to clarify
your own professional mission. There are no right or
wrong answers––only those answers that fit your professional
Ask yourself:
• How do I want to help others? Why?
• What will make me happy in my work? Why?
• What is my standard of care? And why?
• What type of environment do I choose to work in? Why?
• What is my goal when serving my patients?
• What are my beliefs about comprehensive periodontal,
aesthetic, and restorative dentistry?
• What is my ideal smile?
• How do I feel about having optimal aesthetic and restorative
dentistry in my mouth?
• What am I willing to do, change, or risk to practice within
a team?
• What are the professional goals that I want to achieve?
• How will I go about designing my own professional
growth curriculum?
If you cannot answer these introspective questions or visualize
your ideal practice environment, or finish statements like “I
will be happy professionally when . . . ,” how are you able to
deliver care in the environment in which you are currently working?
Or, if you already know you are unhappy in your current
work situation and want to make a shift to a new dental employment
home, how will you know what to look for the next time,
without clarifying what you want? Or––equally as
powerful––what you do not want?
Because the “practice” of dental hygiene is actually a “practice
within a practice,” and because dental assistants usually work
interdependently with the doctor, it is imperative that all team
members and the doctor share not only values and goals, but also
a vision of where they want to take the practice. This aligned vision
is like a road map to the practice they wish to create.
How can everyone be expected to reach the same destination
if they don’t share the same map? If the doctor is heading down
one road and a certain team member is driving in another direction,
neither will have created what they wished for––and both
will feel dissatisfied, frustrated, and possibly even under-appreciated
or burned out. An impasse to success in many dental practices
is this difference between the doctor’s paradigm of success
and that of the team’s.
Though all parties may share the values of high quality care
and concern for patients, for example, the players may have very
different visions of what those values may look like in a practice.
For instance, what if the hygienist’s vision of “concern for the
patient” includes worrying about what the patient can afford, or
he or she believes that cosmetic dentistry is optional dentistry
that only a particular segment of the patient base can afford? The
dentist, in fact, may feel very differently about those values. The
dentist may feel that patients should have the right to choose for
themselves whatever level of care they feel is appropriate. The
reality falls somewhere in the middle, but this difference of vision
could create aggravation between the doctor and the hygienist
and create dissatisfaction for the entire team. However, if the
vision for the practice has been fully articulated by the doctor and
all aspects of the goals and values discussed, then the collaboration
among doctor and team may have the opportunity to grow
into an ownership-shared vision.
Ownership is a powerful tool that can move people much
more quickly toward the realization of their goals. This partnership
and vision can ensure that all parties are traveling the same road in
the same direction at the same speed.
Now, it is time to make clear the distinctions of your current
practice. Ask yourself the following:
What is the mission of my practice?
• Is my professional mission congruent with my current
work atmosphere?
• Do I own that vision and mission with the doctor and the
rest of the team?
• What knowledge will I have to gain to support that
shared vision?
• What services does the practice want to provide––smile
enhancement, periodontal, total-health, emergent care,
orthodontics, etc.?
• Do I believe in all the services my office provides?

Understanding The Bigger Picture