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6 Small Things that make a Big Difference in Making a Good First Impression of your Front Desk

 

When it comes to developing a relationship with your customers, first impressions are essential.

 

Your front desk is the first thing people interact with, so it must be a welcoming and positive experience. Body language, appearance, demeanour and expressions are all important things to consider.

 

People make decisions early on about you. 55% of all first impressions are influenced by visual cues and interactions. Because of this, customers should be treated with the utmost respect, greeted pleasantly with a smile and be provided as much information as possible when voicing inquiries.

 

Not only should people be spoken to with a professional attitude in person but also on the phone or through email. Whenever dealing directly with customers, confidence and professionalism is key to make a successful impression.

 

Here are 6 mannerisms to consider when projecting your ideal front desk first impression.

 

1. Open with a Friendly Greeting and Nice Smile

A simple “Good morning, what can I help you with today?” could help build the beginning of a good relationship with your customer. This swiftly puts the needs of the customer before the needs of yourself, making them feel important.

 

One of the most important things that anyone providing customer service can do to dramatically improve your interactions is smiling. Not only does it convey to the customer that you are happy to assist them, but it improves your own mood too.

 

Happiness spawns happiness. Even customers having a bad day will likely be more pleasant if you continuously reply with a friendly tone.

 

2. Eye Contact

It may sound cliché, but it’s important to maintain strong eye contact throughout your interactions.

 

Eye contact indicates to the customer that you are present, listening and focused on them. It helps build a connection with them. They feel valued as a result.

 

By not engaging in eye contact, the customer could assume you do not want to help them, or that you are unsure about their inquiry. This could cause the customer to feel a negative association with you and the company you work for.

 

Not only that but eye contact is a huge trust builder. Especially with medical practitioners, gaining trust is crucial in order for the customer to be comfortable. Eye contact ensures that, as a receptionist, you know what you are talking about and thus your organization also does. Safety and security are the keys to building happy relationships with your customers.

 

3. Pay Attention to the Customer

Never ignore the customer. They are your number one priority. Show to the customer that they have your full, willing and undivided attention throughout the entire interaction.

 

You can demonstrate this by simply asking for their name and using it throughout the conversation. You will not only make the customer feel like they have your full attention, but people will feel a significantly increased rapport by making the interaction personal to them.

 

4. Speak Slowly

This might be considered odd but could help you improve information being presented for those that may get nervous or just generally speak quickly.

 

Stumbling or pausing is natural for people to do but it can come across as unprofessional. When speaking quickly, it can hinder the comprehension of information for your visitors. Your information should be clearly presented and speaking slowly limits the amount of opportunities for you to stumble or pause awkwardly.

 

By minimizing the faults in your speech, you project a very strong sense of knowledge and charisma. You become more enjoyable to listen to as a result.

 

5. Personal Presentation

How you appear when working is how you are representing your business. Customers will identify the products and your business as respectable because you show respect towards them.

 

Depending on your establishment, you may have a uniform, or you may be free to choose your own attire. In the case of the latter, you should tailor the wardrobe to the company standards.

 

When dealing with documents or products, something that is overlooked is keeping nails well-groomed and professional. Your desk should reflect this as well. A messy desk can make the company feel disorganized and sloppy.

Outward appearance is not all of your personal presentation though. How you present your outward appearance affects you too. Confidence is often conveyed through posture. Straight but still relaxed posture exemplifies natural confidence and a pleasant appearance.

 

Fidgeting and/or constant movement adjustments can distract the customer and make you appear unsure of yourself. Minimizing this can help you seem more engaged or present in the conversation.

 

6. Attitude

Customers will always favour doing business with someone who is pleasant and happy.

 

Your attitude is a reflection on the respect you have towards the establishment. Similarly, it affects how you approach your job and the people you interact with. A negative attitude pushes the customer away.

 

It’s important to maintain a positive atmosphere, even when feeling subpar, because people often copy others’ emotions. What you convey to the customer is what you will most likely receive.

 

There are always ways for you to improve the impression you present to customers. This should shed some light on some areas maybe that have been neglected or introduced you to new ideas.

 

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7 Methods of Disposing Dental Waste

 

 

Dental waste management is an important aspect of your dental practice management.

 

Dental waste or bio waste accumulates throughout any given day in a busy dental practice. This clinical waste can include human tissue, bodily wastes, pharmaceutical products, syringes, needles, swabs and so on. Additionally, it may include x-ray fixer, developer and gypsum found in dental molds.

 

As in all healthcare facilities, these wastes need to be disposed of safely without any negative impact on the environment. Health and safety protocols are set to guide these disposal activities.

 

Amalgam Waste

Amalgam – used as a restorative material – is made up of several chemicals bound together by mercury. The removal of old fillings and shaping/polishing of new fillings creates mercury-containing waste that poses a threat to the environment. Mercury has been declared a dangerous substance under the Canadian Environment Protection Act, 1999 and can do much harm if allowed to enter the environment through scrap, vapors, or waste water.

 

A Canada-wide standard states that amalgam traps and filters to collect the waste be implemented as a dental office’s best practice, allowing it to be recycled or disposed of in such a way that it does not enter the sewage system. An approved waste carrier should be contacted for recycling or disposal.

 

Silver-Containing Waste

Used x-ray fixer and developer contains silver and are classified as hazardous under Ontario Regulation 347. Municipal bylaws place concentration limits on heavy metals such as silver entering the wastewater system which can affect aquatic life.

 

A dental practice should collect used fixer and developer solutions in separate containers provided by an approved waste carrier or supplier, who will then recycle or safely dispose. Silver recovery units can also be used to reclaim the silver from the fixer solution. Once the recovery cartridge is full, an approved waste carrier can recycle or dispose. Alternatively, dental practices can switch to digital equipment, eliminating the need for x-ray machines.

 

Lead-Containing Waste

X-ray packets and aprons contain lead which is also classified as hazardous under Ontario Regulation 347. Lead can contaminate the soil and groundwater if disposed to landfill. An x-ray film manufacturer will often provide containers for recycling or disposal through an approved waste carrier. Lead aprons must not be disposed to the regular waste system. Approved waste carriers must be utilized for disposal.

 

Bodily Wastes

Biomedical wastes are also classified as hazardous under Ontario Regulation 347. Bodily wastes may include blood-soaked materials, and human tissue. Extracted teeth, gauze, surgical gloves, and saliva-soaked materials are not included under the definition of biomedical waste provided they do not contain blood.

 

Blood-soaked materials should be collected in yellow liner bags marked with the biohazard symbol and disposed of through an approved biomedical waste carrier. If blood-soaked materials are stored on-site for more than 4 days, they should be stored in a refrigerated area, locked and separate from other supply areas.

 
Sharps

Sharp objects used in a dental practice may include syringes, needles, and other sharp instruments such as scalpel blades and clinical glass and should be separated from any human waste. Sharps containers are puncture-resistant and leak proof and designed specifically for safe containment and disposal of these items.

 

Disinfectants and Other Chemicals

There are many chemicals used in dental clinics for sterilizing, disinfecting and cleaning. Some of these chemicals may be explosive if released to sewers in large enough quantities. Many of these chemicals can affect the environment adversely.

 

Follow the directions on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the proper handling and disposal of all chemicals in the dental practice. Contact your local municipality for guidelines on disposal of solvents such as ethers, alcohols, acetone or chloroform.

 

Using less harmful cleaning products and methods can reduce the impact on the environment and the need for special handling of waste in the dental practice.

 

Being Compliant

You can ensure your dental practice is compliant by:

  • Documenting the handling, transfer and disposal of all wastes from your dental practice. It is important that your dental office keeps accurate records and maintains all paperwork up-to-date.
  • Choosing a waste carrier that has a certificate of approval for the transport of hazardous waste which should include multiple waste classes.
  • Using recyclable containers provided by waste carriers where possible.
  • Confirming that the waste carrier complies with requirements under the TDGA (Transport of Dangerous Goods Act) requirements such as labelling and containment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Xylitol: The New Sugar

As humans, there are few things we enjoy more in this world than sweets. But with tooth decay a full-on epidemic, alternatives to sugar are becoming more and more popular.

Not all sugar substitutes are considered equal, but Xylitol has great odds in the battle against tooth decay. 

 

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a lower-calorie substitute for sugar. Manufacturers typically use Xylitol as a sugar substitute, since its sweetness is comparable to that of table sugar but with fewer calories.

 

With a similar taste to regular sugar, it also boasts a low glycemic index, making it a great choice for those diagnosed with diabetes.

 

Research suggests that Xylitol may also improve dental health, prevent infections and it possesses powerful antioxidant properties.

 

Where Does Xylitol Come From?

Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol found in the fibers of many fruits, vegetables, the bark of birch trees and other hardwood species containing the organic substance xylan.

 

Even though Xylitol is extracted from natural sources, it goes through a process called sugar hydrogenation to become a shelf-stable white powder for food and dental use.

 

Benefits of Xylitol

Xylitol can be beneficial for people with high tooth decay rate and risk.

 

Since it exists in many forms, Xylitol is easy to incorporate it into your daily diet and routine. Chewing Xylitol gum or using a Xylitol mint after meals can help reduce food debris and plaque, increase saliva flow, and inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria.

Xylitol is widely marketed and easy to order or purchase.

 

Some of the main benefits of Xylitol include:

  • Low Glycemic Index. One of the negative effects of added sugar is that it can spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Xylitol contains zero fructose and has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin
  • Dental Health. Many dentists recommend using a Xylitol-sweetened chewing gum since Xylitol boost dental health and prevents tooth decay. Animal studies also suggest that xylitol may increase absorption of calcium in your digestive system, protecting against osteoporosis and strengthening teeth
  • Ear infections. Incorporating Xylitol into your diet can help to reduce the frequency of ear and yeast infections. It turns out that Xylitol can starve some of the bacteria in the same way that it starves plaque-producing bacteria
  • Antioxidant Properties. For those looking to increase anabolism, Xylitol may be a key addition to the list of substances that can aid in this. Xylitol has been shown to increase Adenosine tri phosphate – a molecule made in every cell of your body also known as APT, to help fight muscle fatigue

Are There Any Downsides?

It should be noted that there are some situations where minor side effects could occur with Xylitol, though this is not common.

 

Xylitol is, however, very toxic to cats and dogs.

 

One of its benefits to humans is that Xylitol is absorbed slowly and has no impact on insulin levels. The same cannot be said for dogs. When dogs eat Xylitol, their bodies mistake it for glucose and start producing large amounts of insulin. When the dog’s cells start absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, hypoglycemia or even death can occur.

 

If you own a dog, be sure to keep Xylitol safely contained.

 

Xylitol Uses

Manufacturers add xylitol to a range of foods, including:

  • Sugar-free candies, such as gum, mints, and gummies
  • Jams and jellies
  • Honey
  • Nut butters, including peanut butter
  • Yogurt

Xylitol is also an ingredient in some dental care products, including:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Other fluoride products

Xylitol may be better for dental health compared to consuming large amounts of sugar, however, it’s still a sweetener. As with other sugar alternatives, too much is not recommended. The best way to control dental cavities is to avoid excess sugar and strive for a balanced diet.   

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How Ultrasonic Scaling Benefits Patients and Dental Hygienists Alike

 

 

Scaling used to be a dental hygienist’s daily grind. But owing to advancements in ultrasonic scaling, the process has become increasingly efficient and effective. Not only is ultrasonic scaling more convenient to the hygienist than scaling with hand instruments, it has numerous benefits to patients’ oral hygiene as well.

 

What is Ultrasonic Scaling?

An ultrasonic scaler is a power-driven scaling device that utilizes ultrasonic vibration to break up hardened calculus deposits on patients’ teeth. The vibration is driven by a generator converts electricity into ultrasonic waves through piezoelectricity or magnetostriction.

 

Once activated, the tip of an ultrasonic scaler oscillates at incredible speeds up to 35,000 cycles per second. The hygienist guides the tip from the coronal to the apical of a tooth, pulverizing calculus so it can be washed away by a coolant spray.

 

Ultrasonic scalers remove plaque through a dual application of mechanical force and cavitation. The vibration of the tip creates pressure waves in the water dispersed as coolant, causing the formation and implosion of atomized gas bubbles. These shockwaves help to disrupt bacterial biofilm and fracture the calculus deposits as they are pounded by mechanical force.

 

The oscillating tip of an ultrasonic scaler is replaceable, with tips of various shapes and diameter available for different purposes. Thicker tips are generally suitable for use with higher power settings to remove heavier calculus deposits, whereas thin tips are used for light calculus or biofilm removal. In any case, hygienists should read the manufacturer’s directions as to a tip’s proper usage.

 

Benefits to Ultrasonic Scaling

Ultrasonic scaling is highly effective in removing subgingival/supragingival calculus from teeth without damaging roots or gum tissue. Other benefits to ultrasonic scaling include:

  • Using an ultrasonic scaler, hygienists can remove calculus from pockets between teeth and gums at probing depths that are unreachable with hand tools (4mm or greater.)
  • Ultrasonic scalers have replaceable, specially-designed tips that can penetrate difficult nooks and corners.
  • Since there are no sharp cutting edges and no ‘scraping’ sound, many patients find ultrasonic scaling is more comfortable than scaling with hand dental instruments.
  • Scaling using an ultrasonic scaler is faster than hand scaling, allowing more time for the hygienist to speak to and educate the patient at the end of the appointment.
  • Ultrasonic scaling is more ergonomically sound, as its power-driven vibration replaces the need to exert lateral pressure on the instrument to remove plaque.

These benefits have made ultrasonic systems like the Cavitron-Compatible Autoscaler the method of choice for many dental practices, replacing other methods power-driven scaling.

 

However, ultrasonic scalers are not suitable for all patients. Notably, ultrasonic scaling should never be used on or near a person with a cardiac pacemaker. Additionally, some patients are apprehensive of power-driven scalers and prefer that their hygienist provide scaling using hand instruments.  

 

Ultrasonic Scaling Technologies: Magnetostrictive vs. Piezoelectric Scalers

Ultrasonic scalers are driven by one of two types of generators: magnetostrictive or piezoelectric. Both can be effective, but there is a learning curve associated with each.

 

A piezoelectric ultrasonic scaler uses transducers to convert electricity into mechanical energy using materials like quartz crystals. The device sends electrical energy to ‘activate’ the material within the handpiece and vibrate the instrument tip at 28,000 to 35,000 cycles per second. The tip vibrates in a back-and-forth motion and only the lateral sides are active.

 

Magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers like the Autoscaler generate vibratory motion by transferring electrical energy to metal components in the handpiece. The tip operates in an elliptical motion at 25,000 to 30,000 cycles per second. Unlike piezoelectric scalers, all sides of the tip (lateral, face and back) are active in a magnetostrictive device.

 

Questions? For more information about ultrasonic scaling or Sable’s Cavitron Compatible Autoscaler, contact our team of dental experts. We’re always happy to help!

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3 Steps to Handling the Unhappy Denture Patient

 

Patient satisfaction is key to the success of any dental practice.

 

As a dental professional you will do whatever you can to ensure your dental patients are happy, comfortable and pain-free. You know that a dental patient who has a positive experience will keep returning and refer your services to their friends.

 

No matter how well you have prepared them, at one time or another you may have to deal with an unhappy denture patient. A denture patient will have a unique range of concerns over the procedure involved in getting dentures to replace their teeth. Educating your denture patient on what the procedure entails prior to treatment will help to alleviate their concerns. It’s essential to communicate effectively to your patients and manage their expectations.

 

Documentation is important and must be kept with the patient’s records. Dentists should follow the rule that if it’s not documented, it did not occur.

 

Follow these 3 steps to manage a patient that is having trouble adjusting to new dentures.

 

  1. Listen

    • The first and most important thing you can do is listen to your patient. Be sensitive and remain calm while you try to understand the cause of any discomfort or pain.

    • If dentures are new, there is a transition period in adjusting to them. It’s only natural that replacing teeth with false teeth, or dentures can take time to get used to.

    • If the patient is suggesting you did a bad job, and is questioning your professionalism, resist the urge to get angry, and keep your emotions in check.

  2. Assure

    • Assure your patient that new dentures need not be uncomfortable. Make sure they understand that you have their well-being at heart. Identify the problem and suggest possible solutions. Make sure your patient has been given all the necessary information on the proper care and handling of dentures.
  3. Advise

    • Discuss the possible actions that you could take to help your patient. Most unhappy denture patients just want you to solve their problem. Some may push you to waive all or part of your fee. Others may request procedure changes or other concessions. Remember your end goal of a happy patient!

Common complaints from new denture wearers are:

 

Sore Gums

Gum tissues are initially soft and need to time to heal. Gums will become smoother and firmer over time. Gums will continue to shrink and change, and they may need readjusting.

 
Gagging

Gagging can be caused by a few reasons. Dentures may be too loose and move around, or they may be too large, touching the back of the throat. In some cases, a denture adhesive may help. In others, dentures may need to be relined or even remade. A soft lining material can be added to fill up space. This might have to be repeated every three to six weeks until your patient has completely healed, after which final adjustments can be made.

 

Sore spots

Sore spots can be eliminated by grinding down pressure points inside the denture.

 

Dentures Don’t Fit

Over time bones and gums can change and dentures won’t fit as well. A replacement set or modifications can be made.

 

Mouth Infections

Some people who wear dentures get mouth infections such as cheilitis. Cheilitis is a painful infection caused by the overgrowth of yeast, that causes cracking at the corners of the mouth. Stomatitis is also caused by too much yeast and causes small red bumps on the roof of the mouth. Both can be treated with medicine and proper fitting dentures.

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5 Non-Traditional Career Opportunities for Dental Hygienists

 

As dental hygienists, we love what we do! But scaling teeth day in and day out can be tiring to some. Thankfully, our industry has reached a pivotal moment where there are now countless non-traditional career opportunities both in and out of the clinical setting. Dental hygienists are finding themselves leading initiatives, managing teams, advising policy and bridging the medical-dental divide.  

 

If you're looking for a break from your daily routine, consider expanding your knowledge base and transitioning to one of these non-traditional roles.  

 

Myofunctional Therapist  

Dealing with disorders of the muscles, Myofunctional Therapists deal with disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. It's a program of specific exercises that strengthen the tongue in order to target the facial muscles used to chew and swallow. Myofunctional therapy includes exercises meant to improve the strength of the muscles within the oropharynx, working to reinforce the proper position of the tongue within the mouth. 

 

Sleep specialists use this therapy to improve breathing problems during sleep, especially in children. Moreover, it is used by dentists and orthodontists concerned about the movement of teeth that occurs when the tongue pushes against teeth.

  

Myofunctional therapists are typically licensed dental hygienists or speech-language pathologists and integrated into various clinical care settings. Because there is no governing board overseeing the industry, myofunctional therapists do not necessarily have to be certified, but there are two well-known organizations that do provide certification courses: 

  1. Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT) 
  2. International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) 

Oral Health Practitioner  

Many dental hygienists are passionate about educating others on the importance of oral health. These days, there are many creative ways to bridge the medical-dental divide. Oral health practitioners in various medical settings are vital to the future of our healthcare in Canada. From providing oral health education to nurses to providing preventative and therapeutic treatment, the opportunities in this field are endless.  

 

Brand Ambassador  

Brand ambassadors typically work as independent contractors and usually receive commission based on direct sales. These brand ambassadors tend to use social media to promote their selected brands. If you're interested in sales and promoting dental brands, this career choice could be for you.   

 

Independent Consultant  

Looking to transition to the world of independent coaching or consulting? This path can really take you wherever you want to go!  

Whether it be working one-on-one with a client, focusing on health coaching, motivational or professional career coaching, or perhaps you'd like to take the team approach. This would allow you to work with other health professionals in developing in-house programming to improve patient experience, increase patient revenue and even work to improve customer retention.  

 

Own or Manage a Dental Program 

Depending on where you live, dental hygienists may even be able to own or manage mobile dental programs in non-traditional practice settings. This could include schools, universities, workplaces, hospitals, or even private homes. Do the research: In Ontario, travelling dental hygienists are becoming more and more commonplace.  

 

Author 

Have you worked in the industry for some time? Do you enjoy writing? If you're looking for a change of pace, try submitting a few pieces to a dentistry journal or magazine. Of course, you can widen your horizons so you're not limiting yourself to just dental publications. Other avenues include blogs, local newspapers, and journals geared towards healthcare and medical professionals.  

 

New Chapter 

Remember, you're not limited to your clinical role. If you're looking for a change, why not use your dental hygiene experience to explore a more non-traditional opportunity and enjoy your new chapter! 

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Introducing a Tooth Whitening Program to Your Practice

 

Tooth whitening is big business. Generating over $1 billion in sales every year, professional whitening stands out as the most frequently-requested dental procedure. It’s also major source of revenue for dental practices across North America. 

 

Together, a dentist and their hygiene team can create comprehensive whitening programs that integrate whitening into a long-term oral care plan. That way, whitening can serve to facilitate financial gain to hygiene and other ancillary offerings. 

 

In a recent piece for Hygiene Town, Mary Jane Livingston and Jennifer Vasquez provide insight into the process of creating a professional whitening program at your practice. Here’s what to keep in mind in offering tooth whitening to your patients. 

 

Professional Whitening 101: How the Tooth Whitening Process Works 

There are several reasons why teeth lose their natural whiteness: diet, genes and oral hygiene all play a part. 

 

Darkening can occur both in the tooth’s outer enamel layer and the secondary layer of dentin. Tooth enamel, made of phosphate and hydroxyapatite, can develop surface stains that attach to the biofilm. These so-called extrinsic stains typically stem from the patient’s diet and habits – frequent smokers and red wine drinkers are likely to have enamel stains. 

 

Stains within the dentin, known as intrinsic stains, can result from medications, fluoride exposure, genetic conditions or systemic conditions. It is more difficult to remove stains from dentin than enamel. 

 

Professional whitening gels use hydrogen peroxide (or a compound containing H2O2) to break the bonds of light-absorbing colour molecules on the teeth. These molecules, called chromophores, contribute to the darkened or stained appearance of teeth. Once the peroxide breaks the molecular ‘glue’ that holds the chromophores together, the teeth look whiter and brighter than before. 

 

Tooth whitening is not a one-time solution – the procedure has a cumulative effect of breaking down stains over time. Additionally, since the average person’s teeth become two to three shades darker every ten years, requiring multiple whitening treatments to maintain the results. 

 

Still, the popularity of professional tooth whitening (not to mention sales of whitening strips, tooth whitening strips and other home treatments) speaks for itself. Many patients are more than willing to invest the time and money necessary to improve the appearance of their smile. Dental practitioners can benefit by investing in a tooth whitening program. 

 

Introducing a Whitening Program to Your Dental Practice 

The benefits of a teeth whitening program go beyond offering your patients brighter smiles. 

 

Tooth whitening brings an emotional component to your dental care. It gives people a greater sense of confidence and satisfaction, which in turn boosts their motivation to maintain better oral health overall. A whitening program increases the likelihood of patients returning for hygiene appointments and other treatments. 

 

Consider the following in determining the best teeth whitening system for your patients. 

 

1.      Contact time. Modern whitening systems use a heat-activated mouthpiece to decrease treatment time, which reduces the risk of the bleaching agent causing sensitive teeth. Shorter contact time also means shorter appointments and increased efficiency. 

2.      Concentration. Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (24 to 38%) produce more dramatic results, but also the risk of sensitivity. More concentrated whitening products may not be suitable for all patients. 

3.      Hydrogen peroxide versus carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide provides a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide and increases contact time, which can increase the risk of tooth and gum line sensitivity. A more concentrated formula with shorter contact time may be preferable for patients who require a shorter contact time. 

4.      Open versus closed environments. Closed-system environments (such as bleaching trays and whitening mouthpieces) result in superior whitening results by keeping the active ingredients in the whitening compound concentrated. 

5.      pH level. Consider the patient’s enamel health and sensitivity when choosing a whitening gel. When mouth pH drops below 5.7, enamel demineralization can occur. 

 

Thinking of introducing a whitening program to your practice? Get the right start with industry-leading instruments. Browse our catalog of dental handpieces, supplies and other dental tools. 

 

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7 Truths About Hygiene School to Remember When It’s Getting the Best of You

 

Late-night study sessions. Lifelong friends. Stress, tears, and anxiety. And, above all, the satisfaction of pouring it all into a hard-earned degree in dental hygiene.

 

When Kara Vavrosky looks back on her time in hygiene school, those are a few of the things that come to mind.

 

Most dental hygienists would concur. Dental hygiene school is a rewarding experience, of course – but at times, it’s also a gruelling one.

 

From the writings of hygienists who’ve been there, here are seven truths about hygiene school to reflect on when you’re feeling the pressure.

 

1. It Pays to Be Organized

By now, you’ve learned that dental hygiene school isn’t like other post-secondary programs. The coursework is dense, the deadlines come fast, and the practical fieldwork leaves no room to play catch-up.

Put simply, procrastination isn’t an option.

 

Kara Varovsky, who wrote about her experience in Today’s RDH, admits she spent more time in her first week at hygiene school staring at the books and assignments than sitting down doing them. To keep up, she had to make a concentrated effort to begin tracking and prioritizing homework and exams.

 

Keeping to-do lists and assignment sheets might just feel like more work at first, but it can save a lot of time and stress in the long run.

 

“If you’re having a really tough time, take it one day at a time until you can handle taking it week by week,” Kara suggests. “Ask yourself, “What do I have to get done by tomorrow?” It makes everything feel achievable when you break it down and don’t look too far ahead.”

 

2. Some Stress is Normal

Few registered dental hygienists would deny there were times that hygiene school pushed their limits, especially in the first year.

 

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed in the beginning. But as the weeks and months pass and you gradually find your footing, hygiene school will become far more manageable.

 

Kimberly Rorstrom-Wittig, a hygienist in Prince George, British Columbia, encourages dental hygiene students to keep looking forward. “Keep focused on your goal and remember that you are all reaching for the same endpoint, to become a dental hygienist.”

 

However, it’s important not to ignore the toll stress can take on your mind and body. As Jason Skazyk, an RDH in Winnipeg, writes: “One of the things that I encourage each student to do is to look after your physical, mental, and spiritual self. Dental hygiene can be a demanding career physically, and if we do not look after our bodies, all that scaling can begin to take a toll.”

 

3. Mentors Make Life Easier

Whether it’s a classmate, an upper-level student, an instructor or a graduate, all hygiene students can benefit from the support and advice of a trusted mentor.

 

Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues for tips and advice. Even students in the same year as you may have hints and strategies you hadn’t considered.

 

Heather Britton, who practices in Carleton Place, Ontario, urges hygiene students to look for mentorship opportunities everywhere – even those outside the hygiene profession.

 

“The dentist can offer you knowledge on procedures that the books can only describe, by showing you the stages of restorations, prosthetics, and extractions,” she writes. “The dental assistant(s) offer a wealth of information on radiographic techniques to open that tough contact, ordering procedures, and lab techniques, to mention a few. The receptionist can also aid in telephone etiquette, computer booking, and filing systems.”

 

4. Trust Your Instructors

Why do we have to fill out pages of classifications and descriptions for every patient in the clinic?

 

Why so many competencies, rules and requirements?

 

Why won’t my instructor just give me a straight answer?

 

If you’ve spent a few weeks in hygiene school, you’ve probably asked a few these questions yourself.

 

At times, hygiene school can feel overly strict, repetitive, or just plain confusing. Frustrating as it may be, it’s all designed to prepare you for practice. Your instructors aren’t just there to teach you practical know-how, but to impart professionalism and critical thinking skills. All three are essential to becoming a registered dental hygienist.

 

Think of it this way: every obscure term you memorize and head-scratching conundrum you solve goes towards making you the best hygienist you can be.

 

5. You’re Not Alone

“My fondest memories from college days were the camaraderie of all of us,” writes Jan Krawchuk, an RDH in Windsor, Ontario. “We had a class of 20, and many of us would get together for study clubs.”

 

There are so many benefits to joining a study group in hygiene school. Not only does it get you to study at regular intervals (instead of cramming the night before a test), but to share and discuss what you have learned beyond the level of memorization.

 

6. Don’t Compare Yourself to Your Classmates

School isn’t a race. Everyone develops different skills at different paces and having a slow start doesn’t mean you cannot excel as a dental hygienist.

 

It is often tempting to compare your progress to that of your classmates. As a recent graduate, Lana MacDonald knows from experience that it’s not a useful exercise.

 

“My advice to dental hygiene students is not to rush the learning process,” she says. “Don't worry about competing with other students. Work at your own pace and learn everything the ‘right way.’ It will make things easier when you go out into practice even if you may feel behind in school.”

 

7. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Whether you choose an accelerated program or a four-year degree, dental hygiene school is a significant part of your life. Take the opportunity to make friends and create memories you’ll look back on fondly.

 

“Always strive to do the best you are able to do, but remember to enjoy this time in your life,” advises Nancy Mar Hoffos, an RDH in Alberta. “When the opportunity arises to have fun, take it, or when you reflect back, you will have regrets.”

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Cannabis Legalization - What Does it Mean for Your Dental Practice?

October has come and gone, and cannabis is officially legal in Canada. What does this mean for your dental practice and your employees?

 

It means that there is going to be some change within your office, and you will have to take a few steps to keep a happy, well-informed team.

 

Cnabis in the workplace

 

Your main priority is to gain an understanding of the regulations for medical and non-medical use, as well as the expectations of your staff. This knowledge is essential in establishing a clear, permissible policy on cannabis in your practice.

 

What’s the Policy on Cannabis in Your Dental Practice?

Take time to have a look at the current policies and practices in place. Do your employees understand their rights concerning cannabis use?

 

If you don’t have a clearly-outlined process in place, this is a great time to create a new one, adding in the new cannabis policies.

 

When Can Your Employees Use Cannabis?

Does the legalization of cannabis mean employees can use it at work?

 

In some cases, the answer is yes.

 

There is a “duty to accommodate” in Canada, which applies to those who are affected by a disability and require cannabis for a medical purpose. This allows prescription cannabis use in the workplace, but they must have medical notation.

 

That being said, your employees have a right to privacy. You may ask for a doctor’s notation, but it does not have to specify the impairment related to their medical cannabis use.

 

There is also a duty to accommodate those who are affected by cannabis smoke or vapour. You may have to establish a specific area of the office where employees can consume medical cannabis away from those who it negatively affects, or ask that users consume edible cannabis instead. Consider which approach will allow you to fulfill your duty while maintaining a positive, inclusive work environment.

 

Is Recreational Cannabis Use Legal in the Workplace?

Despite its legalization, it is not legal for employees to use recreational cannabis within the walls of your dental practice. Laws against smoking in the workplace still apply.

 

Additionally, the legalization of cannabis does not give people the right to be impaired on the job. This includes using cannabis before work if the effects will cause impairment during work hours.

 

According to workplace medical testing and assessments company DriverCheck, cannabis impairment can last for 24 hours. This is important to communicate to your employees, especially those who may use cannabis recreationally on the weekend, to ensure sobriety for Monday morning.

 

How to Discuss a Cannabis Policy with Your Employees

Communicating your policy to your staff is key. This is a new law, and everyone is still learning about it, so it’s important to be on the same page.

 

For medical cannabis users, it’s important to create a safe and open environment for employees to approach you with their medical needs. This will allow open and honest communication around cannabis use and a smooth accommodation process.

 

For recreational use, be sure to communicate your expectations to your staff verbally and in writing. Some may think that marijuana use is like cigarette use on company time — it’s important to debunk this right away.

 

When everyone understands the new policies, your office can move forward with the new cannabis law in a professional manner for both you and your patients.

 

Cannabis Legalization and Your Dental Practice

Communication is key. Ensure your policies are clear and both medical and non-medical policies and expectations are outlined. This will ensure a positive work environment surrounding cannabis and will make for a clear understanding for you and your team moving forward.

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Motivational Interviewing in Dental Hygiene

What’s your goal as a registered dental hygienist?

 

Is it to create whiter smiles, or something more?

 

Hygienists know their breadth of skills and knowledge extends far beyond simply cleaning teeth. Registered dental hygienists are in a unique position to connect with patients and impart personalized dental advice that can benefit them for years to come.

 

Unfortunately, a dental office operates on a tight schedule, leaving little to no time for hygienists to talk with patients one-on-one.

 

This raises an important question: is it worth spending less time on clinical care to spend more time on counselling?

 

At least one registered dental hygienist says the answer is yes. Writing for Today’s RDH, Michelle Strange explains how she came to see her role as a hygienist differently.

 

two ladies shaking hands

 

Clinical Care vs. Self-Care

Michelle Strange is a practicing hygienist, surgical assistant and educator. She is also a self-proclaimed perfectionist.

 

“I need to know I am doing the best job I can while striving to do it better,” she writes. “Sound familiar?”

In the beginning, Michelle felt she was making the most of her limited time with patients by eradicating every last stain on their teeth. She still took the time to give thorough home care instructions, of course – but if there were a minute to spare, she’d rather have used it to deliver additional clinical care.

 

That all changed when she discovered motivational interviewing.

 

“If I have to choose to spend 5 minutes getting every speck of stain off of a patient’s lingual surfaces or 5 minutes making sure they can use a toothbrush properly, I choose the latter”, writes Michelle.

 

It’s a stark difference, but one that Michelle feels will benefit her patients far more in the long run. And she’s not alone. Motivational interviewing is gaining ground in the dental profession, with an increasing number of dentists and hygienists embracing the view that what patients do at home is just as important as the care they receive in the dental chair.

 

What is Motivational Interviewing in Dental Hygiene?

Pioneered in the world of cognitive therapy, motivational interviewing describes an approach to patient care that puts the clinician in the role of a coach or a counsellor more than an authority figure – someone who guides patients in the right direction instead of lecturing them.

 

In dentistry, this approach can apply to how registered dental hygienists educate people about dental self-care. By asking questions and listening without judgement, clinicians can help patients understand choices that affect oral health and feel empowered to make positive change.

 

For example, rather than simply cleaning the patient’s teeth, a hygienist would take time to help them understand why the stains occur and answer any questions the patient may have about flossing and brushing.

 

As Michelle puts it, “Treatment is only going to last so long. If the patient continues to build calculus in the same place every time we see them, are we performing successful patient care?”

 

When clinicians take a non-judgemental interviewing approach, patients are more comfortable asking questions and speaking honestly about their current dental self-care. The hygienist can then provide personalized recommendations that meet the patient’s level of disease, obstacles to care, and lifestyle.

 

Motivational Interviewing in Practice

With this approach, you may find that patients are more receptive to your advice and motivated to make positive changes. Start by incorporating the four basic motivational interviewing techniques: open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries.

  • Ask open-ended questions that invite the patient to elaborate, such as: “What do you find works for you in your current home care routine?” and “What do you find difficult about dental care?”
  • Give affirmations that recognize good choices and encourage patients to continue, such as: “I can tell you’ve been flossing.”
  • Reflect the patient’s answers in a way that gives them meaning. If the patient says they only want a treatment that falls within their insurance coverage, you could say, “We’ll have to keep dental care within your budget.”
  • Summarize the patient’s thoughts to confirm their answers and show you are listening.

Motivational interviewing isn’t the only way to approach patient care, but it is one way to ensure they get more from the appointment than a whiter smile.

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