Like anyone else, we as dental professionals, can fall into a rut. I want to remind you it is all about your daily mindset. I often hear stories about how a hygienist or dentist saved someone’s life. We all know a great smile can change someone’s confidence, but I am referring to something else. What about finding that questionable spot during an oral cancer screening, or finding a lump in someone’s neck during an exam?
I am not getting political here, but think about our healthcare system. The most time a patient is seen by a healthcare professional each year is by the hygienist. If the hygienist has one hour with a patient for each visit, then two hours is spent with them each year. I know there are a lot of tasks to do during that appointment, but think about the amount of education about oral health that can be shared during this time. Most patients do not understand there is a link between the health of their mouth and their body.
The entire dental team needs to be on the same page so patients hear the same message when they come to your office. I got into this discussion a little deeper than normal with a client and his team last week. They were accepting that a routine hygiene exam was “just a cleaning”. Well, as you can imagine, I spent a lot of time going into detail why the hygiene exam is not “just a cleaning”. First, if your focus and understanding is like mine that the dentist is an oral physician, then the hygiene visit is a checkup, not just a cleaning. Having this shift in understanding could really benefit your team and your patients. Scheduling a “checkup” is better verbiage for your team to use since it truly represents what is happening every 6 months. Using this verbiage will also get more of your patients to show up for their “checkup” versus “for their cleaning”.
It has been my experience that many dental practices need to be reminded of this. I hope you are starting your 2017 off with a renewed understanding that you are oral physicians and so much more takes place in your hygiene department than “just a cleaning”.