Why did you purchase the car you are driving?
Why do you shop at the grocery store you frequent and why do you stay at a specific hotel when on vacation?
The answer to these questions should be the reason why your patients come to their hygiene appointment routinely.
What can your patients expect during their routine hygiene appointment?
There are a few systems patients can expect during their dental hygiene appointment when you have systems I place.
This is about consistency. It’s about efficiency and making people feel like they are Number 1!
Does each hygienist in your dental practice know what services they will complete on each patient, at specific hygiene appointments?
Each one of your team members should also know about these systems.
There are many services that hygienists provide patients during a hygiene appointment.
Having written systems for hygiene appointments will make life easier for employees, your team members as well as, keep your patients returning because they feel valued. Your systems provide the best care for patients and your patients feel it.
It is very important for hygienists audit the patient record before they begin their day. This morning or day before seeing patients, is the first system and a good place to begin when implementing systems. The patient- record – audit – information, is used during your morning team huddle.
Here is a list of the services your patients should expect to receive during routine dental hygiene appointments. Your system will include all of these and maybe more:
- Build rapport
This is probably the most important part of your appointment. Take note how many of your patients are seated without a bib being placed on them right away?
Just sit and catch-up or if this is the first time you are meeting, take time to ask about them. Find out something unique, interesting and something fun to remember.
You will be amazed how great it makes your patient feel to just sit a few minutes and chat rather than sit with a bib on their chest immediately.
- Update medical history
This is where you need to be the detective. Ask more than “Any changes in your health?” It is very important to ask questions like, “What medications do you take?” Medications can affect their oral health, cause xerostomia, etc. Ask, “Do you take herbs?” Some herbs can cause excessive bleeding.
Ask, “Any surgeries?” Be sure to ask, “Do you take blood thinners, do you have any teeth that concern you?”
- The next step is to inform your patient about what services you will provide for them. Consider this as “consent to treat your patient,” even if you believe they know why they are there.
Once you have informed your patient and they have informed you about their health and any chief complaints, you must know what interval your dental practice will take BWXs, FMXs and PA’s.
Does your office use the latest 1fluorescence technology? Our hygiene team recommends that dental hygienists complete this type of screening once a year. HPV is on the rise causing oral and pharyngeal cancers.
We are in the business of saving lives!
- Once you have competed these screenings it is time to check the health of your patients’ gums.
How often does your dental practice recommend a comprehensive periodontal exam (CPE)? See the recommendations from the 2AAP to know if you are providing the standard of care.
If your patient is not due for an annual CPE, what is your protocol to spot probe to be sure your patient does not have any new areas of inflammation or infection?
Which teeth do you spot check? And why these specific teeth do you spot check?
- Treatment planning /Coordinating the treatment plan with your patient.
- Doctor/Hygiene Exam. When does doctor know to arrive in the hygiene room to complete the hygiene patient exam?
- Scheduling the next appointment. When patients need to return for a routine hygiene appointment, we recommend the hygienist schedule this appointment when the patient is finished with their hygiene appointment and before they are escorted to the front desk.
The hygienist has spent in most offices we work with, fifty minutes looking in the patient’s mouth, and they are the best person to know exactly when the patient needs to return and why it is important for them to return at this specific time.
What written systems does your hygiene department have?
When systems are in place, people will know what is expected. When everyone on your team knows what is expected your dental practice will run efficiently. Your systems need to have information that will allow your team to have the information they need to provide the best patient care.
When you provide the best patient care, you will have patients who feel well-cared for and these are the patients who continue to return to your office indefinitely.
References from the blog:
Does your hygiene department have a system in place to support each of the identified services in a routine hygiene appointment? If you don’t have all systems in place or you want to “Up Your Game,” let’s schedule a time to chat! Call our office to schedule a time: 949-351-8741. You can email to schedule: firstname.lastname@example.org or Schedule directly from our calendar here.
About the Author
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, CEO Dental Practice Solutions
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is founder and CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. She is also a former dental hygiene program director. Her expertise is optimizing the hygiene department by taking a total team approach; including the doctor as the leader.
Dental Practice Solutions is able to support your dental practice with supporting your front office admin skills, insurance billing, reimbursement as well as credentialing and increasing your PPO fees.