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We will increase your TOTAL dental practice profitability without working more hours or days each year.

- Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, Speaker, Author. Dental Hygiene Coach & Consultant

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Dental Hygienists Role in Maintaining Dental Implants

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

May 10, 2017

Dental Hygienists Role in Treating Implants

Dental Hygienists Role in Treating Implant Patients

Dental Implants are an expensive alternative to tooth replacement and they must last a lifetime. This is our ultimate goal when placing implants.

If our desire is to keep implants for a lifetime of the patient, it is important for the dental hygienist to understand the morphology of the peri-implant mucosa, the attachment between the mucosa and the titanium implant. This area comprises the junctional epithelium, about 2 mm high, and the connective tissue zone of greater than or equal to 1 mm in height. This is the zone that protects the osseointegrated surface from environmental factors, such as plaque in the oral cavity.

It is this zone where the health and longevity of a dental implant is imperative and it is a major role for dental hygienists is to maintain dental implants.

Dental Implants

Dental Implant Maintenance

An important role of the hygienist is to assess if their patient as a potential implant candidate. Many people know about dental implants but choose not to inquire about them and they choose not to consider them for tooth replacement.

It is the open-ended questions, a smile evaluation and communication with a potential implant patient will begin a foundation for case acceptance of dental implants. When you allow the patient to complete a smile evaluation, you allow the patient to be the one asking about the area where a tooth is missing.

Allowing your patient to be the one inquiring about treatment will put them in the drivers seat and you are only there to offer answers to the area the patient has checked off in their smile evaluation that the are not 100% satisfied with.

You can now lead this conversation into a discussion about the consequences of not having an implant. You now have an opportunity to discuss why  implant therapy a good option for a particular patient.

Continuing with your conversation you may talk about adjunctive or alternative forms of therapy/treatment that can be utilized.

It is very important for all the auxiliaries to understand why implants work, how well they work, and everyone on the dental team must understand all aspects of implant care so communications and explanations to the patient, that based on the doctor’s diagnosis, is a seamless process. This means that you have had role-play sessions as a team about “what to say,” “Who are the patients that doctor considers a good implant candidate, etc.”

When your patient accepts treatment, it’s the hygienist who will be responsible for educating the patient about oral care during the surgical and prosthetic phases of treatment. It is important for all the clinicians to understand the surgical treatment your patient will undergo and the types of restorations that will be placed. It is imperative that you recommend the appropriate oral hygiene techniques during healing phases.

Clinical hygiene and routine home-care procedures need to be effective but non-invasive so the healing tissues are not disturbed. It is also important for the patient to be aware that gentle debridement will only be effective while tissues are healing. Once healing and restoration are complete, a new hygiene routine will need to be established, learned, and complied with.

It crucial for the hygienist to educate their patients about the need for routine, maintenance. This is not an option if the patient has a desire to keep their implants for the rest of their life. Explain to your patient what can happen when their implants are not properly cared for at home and maintained by their dental hygienist.

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS One of Dentistry Today's Top Consultants

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS One of Dentistry Today’s Top Consultants


Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is a dental consultant, coach, speaker and author. She is also CEO of Dental Hygiene Solutions, powered by Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is a world-class leader in creating profitable hygiene departments. She is well-known as a former clinical assistant professor at USC in Los Angeles and a former hygiene department program director. Dentistry Today recognizes Debbie as a Leader in Dental Consulting. She can be reached at (888) 816-1511. Send an e-mail to info@dentalpracticesolutions.com or go to her website: http://www.dentalpracticesolutions.com

Be sure to check out the live CE Events for FUN, Educational learning and AGD CE Credits.

To Charge or Not to Charge. Oral Cancer Screenings

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

March 13, 2017

Oral Cancer Screening

Video: Oral Cancer Screenings. To Charge or Not to Charge


Years ago, the dilemma that most dental professionals faced was regarding whether to use advanced technology to screen for oral cancer.

Today’s Facts: The occurrence of oral cancer has continued to rise and has begun affecting a younger demographic, due to a staggering increase in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV). Fluorescent technology for early discovery of this growing epidemic has continued to evolve. Adjunctive devices have been simplified and very cost-efficient. My preference is the OralID because of the light weight and small size of the device. This technology makes oral cancer screening a no-brainer.

The questions that continue to repeat in the dental clinicians mind is:  “Should we charge for this or not charge?”

Once the dental team has decided to charge the next questions are:
“How much do we charge our patients for this enhanced oral cancer screening?”
“Do we only bill insurance, or do we screen for free as a service to our patients?”

The great news is: With the latest device having zero cost per patient use, you can incorporate the technology with whichever answer to the question fits your practice best.

Below, I will outline a few examples on ways to incorporate enhanced oral cancer screening into your practice.
To Charge
Charging for services performed is standard in health care. As you invest in your practice, in terms of both time and money, it is natural to assume compensation will allow you to make a return on your investments. Enhanced oral cancer screening is a service you provide, and it is perfectly acceptable to expect an increase in revenue in return for the service.
How to charge for enhanced oral cancer screening can vary from office to office. Here are a few options for charging:
Charge an annual fee: You can simply charge a flat fee for your enhanced oral cancer screening. Set a fee of around $20 (or within a range of $10 to $35) per patient, per year. If you educate your patients properly, you should see fairly high acceptance rates in your office. But if you just hand a patient a consent form and ask for a $65 fee, you will not have any success. So, if you decide to incorporate this method, make sure that the fee is reasonable and that you have educated your patients about the importance of what you are doing. Explain that you have invested in the technology because it could potentially save their lives. OralID offers Lifetime Team Training by our in-house hygienist, so you can get help with ideas on how to best educate your patients and maximize screening acceptance.
Charge one fee for life: In the spirit of the “whitening for life” campaigns that some offices offer, you can charge up-front for participation in an “oral cancer screening for life” program. Charge $35 to $100 at the first visit and then screen the patient at no additional charge during future visits (as long as he or she does not miss any hygiene appointments, of course).
Raise your fees: Increase your exam and/or prophy fees to include the service and do not charge the patient directly for it. This allows you the freedom to screen every patient and compensates you for your time and for your investment.
Not To Charge
Dental practices are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from competitors. Offering advanced oral cancer screenings is a proven method for increasing marketability and gaining new patients. Performing free oral cancer screenings for every patient is a service that will be appreciated by patients and that will not only get you more loyalty from current patients but also motivate them to refer friends and family-and this is the ultimate marketing goal.
You can hand a card to each patient that reads, “Has your loved one been screened for oral cancer?” or a coupon for a free oral cancer screening. Doing so will certainly differentiate your practice from the others, building value in the practice by maintaining and growing the patient base. The days of “whitening for life” are unfortunately over, but offices can now incorporate “oral cancer screening for life” for their patients due to the latest technology finally being affordable enough to make it possible.

CDT Code to Bill: D0431
A change in thinking
Patient care should be the focus for all offices. Given that, you may eventually change the method you choose in regard to charging or not charging. It’s not uncommon for offices to begin screening by charging for the service, only to decide not to charge after finding a lesion that might not have been discovered without the device. For many practices, a situation like this one is a practice changer that leads to the realization that enhanced oral cancer screening is important for every patient.
So, when you are thinking about the new screening decision, whether “to charge or not to charge,” remember that there is no right or wrong. By making the simple choice to incorporate this technology into your practice, you could be making a life-changing decision for your patients.

For more information on the OralID go to: ORALID MORE INFORMATION