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6 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Air Polishing

If you’re a dental professional, it will serve you well to read this Hygiene Town article that recently caught our eye.

 

The article highlights the many positive features of air polishing and the fact that, despite scientific evidence demonstrating its value, it has yet to become widely accepted among many registered dental hygienists.

 

Air polishing has proven to be successful with plaque and stain removal. In fact, it’s shown to be three times faster than rubber cup polishing! So, why aren’t more of us using it?

 

The truth is that air polishing, for whatever reason, has been riddled with naysaying...and these myths are part of the reason it hasn’t seen widespread use.

 

Let’s look at the facts about air polishing!

 

Myth #1: Air Polishing is Too Messy

This myth is based on what used to be the truth. In generations past, air polishers sprayed all over the place. However, in recent years, things have changed.

 

Older air polishing devices could only be used at full power. They also clogged too quickly, and many practitioners didn’t have the knowledge and experience to shield their patients from the abundance of overspray.

 

Nowadays, air polishers offer far more control and precision.

 

Myth #2: Patients Dislike the Taste

Similar to the above myth, the taste factor of air polishers did use to be a legitimate gripe of patients and hygienists alike.

 

Initially, the powder being used was a salty sodium bicarbonate that revolted both children and adults.

 

Fortunately, most models now include a non-sodium option.

 

There’s also a substance known as Sylc therapeutic prophy powder being utilized in air polishing systems. It’s a calcium sodium phosphosilicate or bioactive glass.

 

Although the Sylc does possess 450 mg sodium, this is far milder than the 2,000 to 3,000 mg found in a sodium bicarbonate—a staple of the old method.

 

Myth #3: It’s Less Effective at Cleaning Teeth

Marilynn Rothen, MS, RDH, states that air polishing is superior to rubber cup polishing when cleaning the tooth surface before etching for sealant placement.

 

Further studies, however, indicate similar results between cleaning methods. Regardless, air polishing has never been proven to be less effective at cleaning teeth when compared to other treatments!

 

Myth #4: Air Polishing Makes Teeth Overly Sensitive

This myth, unlike a few of the other ones, isn’t rooted in facts at all. The reality is that this myth couldn’t be any further from the truth!

 

Air polishing will offer comfort to your patients with even the most sensitive teeth. It’s an extremely gentle method that necessitates no heat or pressure being placed on tooth surfaces.

 

Furthermore, due to the acclaimed gentleness of air polishing, it’s an ideal technique to use when cleaning around delicate implants.

 

Myth #5: The Aerosol Spreads Bacteria

Dental professionals perform an array of procedures, including air polishing, that requires hand tools that produce an influx of particles and splattering. They can contain microorganisms (aerosols) from the oral cavity of the patients, which are believed to possess bacteria and fungi. It’s feared that this can lead to cross-infection for dentists and dental hygienists.

 

Yes, you do have to adhere to prevention methods to keep safe—but it’s no different from any other treatment. Furthermore, studies have proven that aerosol exposure is not a significant occupational hazard.

 

Myth #6: Air Polishing Equipment is Too Expensive

Unfortunately, many dental professionals do consider air-polishing equipment to be too expensive.

 

But this assumption doesn’t consider the return on your investment.

 

Even if you’re paying for a more expensive polisher, your patients will appreciate the results and keep coming back to you as their trusted dentist or dental hygienist.

 

After debunking these myths, we hope that you’re more open to air polishing. It’s an undoubtedly affordable, safe, and effective teeth-cleaning method that will help your patients achieve optimal oral health!

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How to Win Over Millennials and Keep Them Coming to Your Dental Practice

 

It’s a fact: millennials are now the single biggest generation in both Canada and the U.S. There are over 83.1 million American millennials and about 10 million to the north.

 

So, why aren’t you seeing more of them in your practice?

 

You’re not alone if you’ve had difficulty bringing this generation of potential patients on board. Sure, you’ll see them in for the occasional extraction or filling...but when it’s time for a regular cleaning, millennials aren’t inclined to call back.

 

It’s not that Gen Y doesn’t want or need dental care ‒ but they often require a different tact than you’d take to recruit and retain your usual patients. 


Why Gen Y Isn’t Always An Easy Win

In a recent article for HygieneTown, RDH Katrina Sanders lays out a few of the things that make the millennial generation (people born between 1983 and 1997) different when it comes to their approach to dental care.

  • First, many millennials experienced divorce in their families growing up. Because of this, they tend to wait longer to marry and have children (if they do at all.)
  • Older millennials took on significant student loans and graduated at the height of the Great Recession, leading many to unstable career and financial situations. Many work part-time, multiple jobs or flexible hours.
  • Millennials also saw their parents and grandparents, many of whom committed decades of service to their employers, suffer job loss during the Recession.

What does this all mean for you as a dental professional? Well, as Sanders explains, these tendencies affect Gen Y’s attitude about going to the dentist. Understanding these traits can go a long way in helping you attract more millennial patients and keep them coming back after the initial treatment!

 

1. Involve Millennials in Their Dental Care

Back in university or hygiene school, you might’ve learned to look at a patient’s involvement in their healthcare through scales like the Health Belief Model or Dental IQ.
But millennials don’t always fit the book. 
 
Although they are often highly educated and concerned about their health, millennials are also notorious for scrutinizing the ins and outs of anything they spend their money on. They need to truly believe in what they’re ‘buying’, even when it comes to oral healthcare.

 

Involving these patients through a co-discovery process helps by making them part of the solution to their own dental needs.


2. Make Booking Appointments a Breeze

You’d be hard-pressed to find a millennial who doesn’t carry a smartphone, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get in touch with these patients by phone. Why?

 

Truth is, phone calls are becoming a thing of the past. One survey showed that 80% of Generation Y would be willing to trade the ability to place phone calls for an unlimited data plan. 

 

Further, 61% said they would consider switching dentists just for the ability to book appointments quickly.

 

In other words, it no longer makes sense to conduct your bookings solely over the phone! Millennials are busy, and so they’re not as willing to spend time tracking down your number or waiting on hold. 

 

If you’re still only taking appointments by phone it’s time to start looking at ways to let patients book online. 


3. Stay Open Later

Speaking of busy...research has shown that millennials place a lot of value on extended evening and weekend hours. In fact, nearly 40% say they’d keep coming back to a dentist who can offer those extended hours.

 

Unfortunately, many millennials simply don’t consider regular dental checkups or teeth cleanings worth missing a day of work. Taking time off is tricky when you’ve got multiple employers and family obligations packed into one schedule.


Any practice that can offer weekend or evening appointments has a huge advantage when it comes to winning over this generation of patients.


4. Offer Financing Options

For better or worse, millennials are willing to shop around for a dentist, especially when they’re on a tight budget. As Sanders illustrates in her HygieneTown piece, most

millennials will respond to a proposed dental treatment in one of three ways:

 

  • Agree to have the treatment, but request several monthly payments broken up over an extended period.
  • Look for another dentist that can provide the same treatment at a discount.
  • Ask you to dull the pain, but not cure the problem.

Fact is, fewer millennials have insurance coverage than previous generations, and we know that those without insurance are more likely to avoid getting proper dental care due to cost. But if you can offer an alternative to paying out-of-pocket, it will win over millennials who are likely to become long-term patients and a great referral source.


5. Keep In Touch

But it’s not always an aversion to phone calls or dental bills that keeps millennials out of the chair. 

 

Between a growing career, a young family and a world of constant distraction, sometimes dental care just falls off the radar. 

 

This is where it helps to reach out to patients outside office hours. To start, following up after the appointment by text or email is an incredibly simple way to make a connection and remind them you care. You can continue fostering that connection via social media, sharing blogs, videos and resources.

 

Remember: millennials aren’t your enemy! They have all the same needs as your other patients, and they’re a valuable source of business ‒ especially as the older ones are settling down and starting families. A bit of flexibility on your part can go a long way in winning them over as dental patients.

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Why ‘Natural’ Teething Necklaces Do More Harm Than Good

 

The teething process can be difficult for both parents and young ones alike. It’s only natural that parents want to protect their children from anything that might be causing them pain ‒ but they don’t always want to treat the problem with pharmaceuticals.

 

So, many parents look for homeopathic, all-natural solutions for their toddler’s teething problem.

 

Recently, dental professionals have noticed the growing trend of parents are treating their toddler’s gum pain with a natural teething necklace. Let’s take a closer look at what this alternative ‘healing’ method entails.

 

What are Teething Necklaces?

Natural teething necklaces are abundantly available and can be purchased for about $20 from boutiques and big-box stores alike.

 

Part of the reason these necklaces are making such a big splash on the market is that several celebrities have been proponents of the product.

 

The necklace is made of something called Baltic amber, which was formed over 45 million years ago. It’s an organic fossil resin that’s produced by pine trees native to northern Europe and the Baltic Sea. This unique amber has been used since ancient times as both an ingredient in perfumes and in folk medicine.

 

People who believe in the healing properties of Baltic amber claim it soothes teething symptoms because it releases succinic acid. Apparently, the substance is absorbed as an analgesic through a child’s skin.

 

Is There Any Merit to This Homeopathic Treatment?

In short, no. There’s no scientific data that can prove these necklaces are useful in any way as treatments. Conversely, research suggests that this homeopathic healing device actually does much more harm than good.

 
The Cruel Reality of Teething Necklaces

Upon even the most surface-level investigation, you’ll find that succinic acid won’t be dispersed from your child’s necklaces unless it’s heated at 200 Celsius.

 

Furthermore, these necklaces are safety hazards.

 

What’s worse, young children have been strangled by these necklaces. The FDA has warned the public about these amber necklaces, pointing out that they can lead to choking, strangulation, mouth injuries, or infection.

 

If the piece of jewelry breaks, a small bead might enter a toddler’s airway, causing them to choke. It’s also possible that the necklace can get caught on a child’s crib then wrap too tightly around their neck, causing strangulation.

 

Then, the jewelry might cut toddlers’ gums – which can lead to an infection.

 

For further context, studies by researchers from Nova Scotia tested the strangulation risk of 15 amber teething necklaces purchased from retailers in Canada. Their results showed that nearly half failed to open after applying 15 pounds of force for 10 seconds, which is an industry-standard.

 

Talking to Parents About Teething Necklaces

It’s always challenging to tell parents they’re doing something wrong with raising their children.

 

Therefore, when you notice a toddler wearing a teething necklace or a parent informs you that they’re utilizing the method, be sensitive to their situation.

 

Still, as a professional, you can inform them of the dangers that we’ve discussed above. In many cases, most parents will realize your advice is coming from a good place, so they’ll likely take immediate action.

 

You must provide these parents with a list of viable alternatives. After all, it’s unfair to drop a bomb about the teething necklace with no other solutions in mind.

 

Here are some practical alternatives to a teething necklace:

  • Large plastic toys that are safe for chewing
  • Cold or frozen cloths
  • Frozen bananas or apples
  • Massaging the gums

While we do understand any hesitation about traditional medicine for children, a mild pain reliever won’t do any harm when given to a toddler sparingly.

 

The Final Verdict on Teething Necklaces

Parents can go to unusual lengths to protect their children from pain. Sometimes they hear about alternative treatments that sound too enticing to pass up.

 

After all, an ancient analgesic with healing powers catered specifically to teething pain makes for an enticing proposition.

 

However, as an informed dental professional, you must discourage parents from purchasing these necklaces. It’s then equally as crucial that you provide viable alternatives to help with teething pain symptoms, so parents can take comfort in your care for their toddler.

 

 

 

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5 Phone Tips That’ll Help You Turn More Prospects into Dental Patients

 

 

Have you welcomed many new clients lately?

 

You’ve got a talented team, but you need patients to fill their chairs in order to keep the practice growing! The second you get complacent is when you fall into a rut.

 

While not every incoming phone inquiry leads to new patients, fine-tuning that aspect of your practice management will do wonders for your patient acquisition. The following tips will help you turn more phone prospects in patients at your dental practice.

 

1. Don’t Hold Out on Insurance Details

 

Put yourself in your potential patients’ shoes. Of course, many of them are nervous about their appointment – but on top of that, they’re worried about finances and insurance.

 

People tend to avoid treatment when they’re worried about their insurance coverage. So, be sure that you make clear what is available on any given patient’s specific policy. 

 

Delve into as much detail as possible over the phone so there’s no room for confusion. It’s integral to let prospective patients know that your practice has a relationship with most providers.

 

2. Stay Alert in Case of Urgent Appointments

 

You could miss out on a lot of potential business if you close the door on last-minute bookings. Flexible appointment options are a major draw to patients who don’t already have a regular dentist.

 

Consider leaving enough time open in your schedule for patients who need to see you immediately. If someone just cracked a tooth and can’t find an appointment, they’ll be eternally grateful if your dentistry was the one that saved the day. And voila! You now have a patient for life.

 

3. Provide Two Distinct Appointment Options

 

Your schedule comes first, of course, but you want to do your best to work with your patients’ schedules as well. One simple way to do this is to offer two potential appointment times over the phone.

 

First, ask the prospective patient whether they would prefer an earlier or later timeslot. From there, offer two potential time slots in that period (e.g., morning, afternoon, evening). The prospect feels less pressured to settle for an inconvenient time and empowered by the freedom to choose a time that works for them.

 

The quicker you can sort out a time, the less the patient can hum and haw over their personal schedule!

 

4. Be Transparent

 

Treat every phone call with care. In fact, treat each phone call with the same attention to detail you apply to cleanings and fillings! 

 

When your patients ask how long the appointment will take, it’s not necessarily about the seconds on the clock. Really, they’re trying to gauge the seriousness and intensiveness of the work being done.

 

Give your potential patients a reason to trust you by walking them through their treatment during the initial call. Giving them a step-by-step breakdown of everything from the initial check-in process to the X-rays, cleaning, and billing will go a long way.

 

Remember to ask for a cellphone number so you can text the patient to send them a reminder for their upcoming visit!

 

5. Be Upfront About Pricing

 

We get it – money is always a touchy subject in this profession. That’s exactly why it’s important to get ahead of the subject and speak confidently and transparently about your payment options.

 

Start at the low-end of the price range where appropriate and emphasize that the needs of each patient will vary. It’s fair to state that while every crown starts at a certain cost, you’d need to see the patient’s teeth first to provide a more accurate price assessment.  

 

Some patients will always be difficult to satisfy, but it still pays to be transparent in this regard. Better to lose an impossible prospect over the phone than to argue with one in the dentist’s chair!

 

 

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Treating Patients with Thyroid Disease as a Dental Hygienist

Thyroid conditions present oral and systemic manifestations that can challenge even the most seasoned dental professionals. Up to 15% of the general population has some form of thyroid abnormality, and many people have never been properly diagnosed - which makes treating them all the more complicated.

 

As a registered dental hygienist, there are ways you can help to identify and manage the oral manifestations of thyroid diseases. Here, we’ll discuss two of the most common thyroid diseases you’ll see in your practice: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

 

Oral Manifestations of Hypothyroidism

 

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive or low thyroid, is a decrease in the hormone production and functioning of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism most often affects women from middle age onward, but it can occur in people of any age.

 

Many people who have hypothyroidism present only a few or very mild symptoms. However, those with severe hypothyroidism can experience numerous symptoms including slow metabolism, weight gain, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, and puffiness of the face.

 

When treating a dental patient with hypothyroidism, you may notice one or more of the following common oral manifestations:

  • Salivary gland enlargement
  • Compromised periodontal health
  • Glossitis, or inflammation of the tongue marked by soreness, swelling and change in colour

People who experience severe hypothyroidism as a child may present long-term dental and craniofacial manifestations in adulthood, such as:

  • Enamel hypoplasia
  • Micrognathia, or undersized jaw
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thick lips
  • Macroglossia, or oversized tongue

Oral Manifestations of Hyperthyroidism 

 

Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is the unregulated production of thyroid hormones. It is most often called by an immune system disorder called Grave’s Disease and usually affects women under 40, but it can occur in people of all ages.

 

Many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism mirror hypothyroidism in reverse - sensitivity to heat, weight loss, increased cardiac output are common. It can also cause emotional instability, tremors, abnormal heart rate and hypertension.

 

A dental patient who has hyperthyroidism may present the following oral manifestations:

  • Increased susceptibility to periodontal disease and dental caries
  • Enlarged extraglandular thyroid tissue (mainly in the lateral posterior tongue)
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth caused by Sjogren's syndrome

Treating Dental Patients Who Have a Thyroid Disease

 

As a registered dental hygienist, it is important to understand how thyroid dysfunction could affect your patient care.

 

First, you are well-positioned to notice the symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism and aid in early diagnosis. Your keen eye could be what points a patient in the right direction to receiving treatment for their condition.

 

For patients who have confirmed thyroid disease, it’s also important that you and your colleagues deliver care that will help, not harm. Complications can occur from improperly treating dental patients with thyroid disorders.

 

Rebecca Marie Friend, BS, RDH demonstrates this perfectly in a recent column for Today’s RDH. When an elderly patient came in presenting with hypothyroidism, Rebecca took the time to carefully review the patient’s health history and discuss the patient’s medications, including over-the-counter remedies. Not only did this discussion reveal an important oversight by the patient’s doctor, but Rebecca was able to provide the patient with a better understanding of the condition.

 

Rebecca also provides the following recommendations to hygienists and other dental professionals in treating dental patients who present with thyroid disorders.

 

  1. Establish communication with the patient’s endocrinologist and other healthcare providers. This will ensure that you are kept up to date with the patient’s medications and the rest of the healthcare team is aware of the patient’s oral manifestations.
  2. Plan treatment in a way that limits stress and infection. Patients with hypothyroidism are at greater risk of infection due to increased bleeding and delayed wound healing.
  3. Treat the oral manifestations of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism as needed, including periodontal disease, caries and xerostomia.
  4. Conduct an extraoral head and neck examination at each appointment. This will help you detect changes to the patient’s thyroid region.
  5. Be sure to always use a thyroid collar when taking patient X-rays. The thyroid gland is very sensitive to radiation, and excessive exposure is a known risk factor for thyroid conditions.
  6. Help the patient feel comfortable in the chair. People who have hypothyroidism could use a blanket to help keep their legs warm, while those with hyperthyroidism might appreciate you turning the thermostat down a few extra degrees.
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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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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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Checklist: 6 Vital Questions to Ask on Your Next Dental Visit

Communication is the cornerstone of a successful practitioner-patient relationship. Dentists and registered dental hygienists hear this principle repeated throughout their education.

 

However, in most dental appointments, the practitioner does most of the talking.

 

Vital questions for your dentist

 

If you’re a patient, these are vital questions to ask on your next dental visit. If you’re a practitioner, this list should help open the door to more productive communication with people for whom you care.

 

1. How Does Dentistry Impact My Overall Health?

There is a strong connection between a person’s oral health and the state of their health overall. Not only does the mouth offer clues to what’s going on in the rest of the body, but it can affect the body in ways patients often find surprising.

 

By examining teeth and gums, dentists can see early evidence of nutritional deficiencies, general infections, and even systemic diseases like diabetes. Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and inflammation plays a role in certain diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

 

2. What is the Condition of my Gums, Teeth and Smile?

Given the connection between oral health and overall health, it is vital patients know where they stand. The appointment should not focus solely on the most pressing problems. Take time to discuss the state of the patient’s oral health as a whole.

 

3. How Does Your Oral Health Impact Your Everyday Life?

Patients in the dentist’s chair should never be shy about what’s bothering them. Even minor concerns can point to bigger oral health issues that should be addressed. Be sure to bring up everyday issues like swollen or bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, and snoring.

 

This discussion should include cosmetic concerns. Studies recognize the link between how someone perceives their dental aesthetics and their social and psychological wellbeing. The appearance of teeth and gums certainly has an affect on a patient’s day-to-day life.

 

4. How Will a Proposed Treatment Solution Benefit Me?

Part of a dental practitioner’s job is to ensure patients have the facts they need to make well-informed decisions about their oral healthcare.

 

Some treatments are necessary, while others are beneficial but optional, or purely cosmetic. It’s important that patients understand the urgency of a procedure and the possible consequences (if any) of not moving forward.

 

5. Is This the Right Practice to do this Work?

Many dentists are generalists, but some specialize in a particular area of dentistry. For certain treatments, patients may benefit from a referral to a specialist in areas like endodontics, orthodontics, or periodontics.

 

A dental specialist in the United States is a member of a Dental Specialist Organization recognized by the American Dental Association; in Canada, a specialist has completed specific postgraduate training and passed a Royal College of Dentists exam.

 

6. Is This the Right Time to Proceed with Dental Treatment?

Assuming the problem is not an urgent one, it may be better to postpone treatment until a later date. Many people have a limit on the total cost of dental care their insurance covers each year; performing different steps of treatment over a longer period can help the patient maximize their dental benefits.

 

The Importance of Practitioner-Patient Communication

We write about communication between patients and dental practitioners on this blog often. In this post, we aimed to help facilitate the process with questions every patient should ask (and which dentists and hygienists should encourage).

 

Check out the Sable Industries blog for more information on dental equipment and resources for practitioners.

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Treating the 4 Common Dental Problems During Pregnancy

If you asked the average parent to name the roster of a prenatal healthcare team, they are bound to mention a few key players: the family doctor, obstetrician/gynecologist, sonographer, and perhaps the midwife.

What about the dental hygienist?

 

commin dental problems during pregnancy

Parents and healthcare providers often overlook the importance of oral health during pregnancy. However, multiple studies have indicated a link between poor oral health and adverse outcomes in pregnancy.

A comprehensive overview of research on this subject demonstrated that associations exist between periodontitis during pregnancy and pre-term birth, low birth weight babies, and preeclampsia.

Common Dental Problems During Pregnancy

In particular, there are four oral health conditions that become more prevalent during pregnancy:

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Dental caries/cavities
  3. Pyogenic granuloma
  4. Dental erosion

We’ve provided an overview of these four common dental problems during pregnancy, along with how dentists and dental hygienists can play a greater role in providing care to pregnant patients.

1. Pregnancy Gingivitis

During pregnancy, the body’s response to gingivitis-causing bacteria in the periodontal tissue changes. Some studies speculate the change is triggered by hormonal fluctuations, such as increased salivary estrogen levels during the second and third trimesters.

As a result, patients who had periodontitis before pregnancy may find that inflammation increases throughout the pregnancy. Those with no prior history of gum disease may develop periodontitis or notice increased bleeding and gingival crevicular fluid flow.

2. Dental Caries in Pregnancy

The risk of developing dental caries or cavities often increases during pregnancy. Patients may be affected by one or more contributing factors:

  • Decrease in salivary pH due to changes in diet;
  • Increase in acidity in the mouth due to vomiting;
  • Dry mouth; or
  • Poor oral hygiene care due to nausea and vomiting.

3. Oral Pyogenic Granuloma

Pyogenic granuloma appears as a small tissue overgrowth on the gums that can be smooth or lobulated and red or pink. These lesions are sometimes called ‘pregnancy tumours’ because they are more common in pregnant patients; however, pyogenic granuloma is not cancerous and often disappears without treatment.

Though not harmful, a pyogenic granuloma can be painful and unsightly.

4. Dental Erosion During Pregnancy

Patients who experience morning sickness or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in pregnancy may develop greater erosion of dental enamel. Although there is no way to reverse dental erosion that has already occurred, dental professionals can assist in preventing and reducing its effects.

Assisting Patients with Common Dental Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a critical time for a patient’s oral health. Not only does it increase the risk of these common dental problems, but poor oral health care is linked to outcomes like preterm birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia.

There are many ways in which dental hygienists can help contribute to positive outcomes through good oral health care at all stages of pregnancy:

  1. Encourage patients to have regular dental checkups during pregnancy, even if they are accustomed to seeing the dentist only once or twice a year. Emphasize the added importance of oral health care during this time in their lives.
  2. Be non-judgemental about new concerns the patient may have about dental treatment during their pregnancy. Many people have heightened concerns about medications, fluoride treatment, and dental x-rays during this time; answer their questions with patience.
  3. Reinforce the benefits of good oral hygiene care: twice-daily brushing for two minutes at a time, once-daily flossing, and using toothpaste with fluoride.
  4. Ask about any new medications or supplements the patient may be taking during pregnancy.

Celebrating Hygiene Month

We all have dental hygienists to thank for being a part of our healthcare team throughout different stages of our lives, including the journey towards parenthood.  This is the second in a series of articles we’ve published on this important role during Hygiene Month: a month to recognize hygienists and emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene.

Sable Industries is proud to produce quality dental tools used by registered dental hygienists and dentists across North America. Contact us today to learn how we can assist your dental practice.

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10 Ways Being Confident Can Boost Patient Satisfaction

There are many ways to boost patient satisfaction in your dental practice. Clear communication, good time management, friendliness, efficiency, and empathy are significant factors in a patient’s overall expectations of their dental experience.  

 

10 Ways Being Confident Can Boost Patient Satisfaction

 

But according to the Canadian Dental Association, one quality stands out above the rest: confidence.  

 

A dental practitioner’s confidence, and the ways in which they demonstrate it, ranks as the #1 influencer on how patients perceive their quality of care, according to the latest Canadian Dental Association survey. 

 

Why? Confident people attract positive attention — no secret there. It’s natural to be attracted to people with high self-esteem, whose confidence shines through their charisma, appearance, speaking, writing, and listening skills. Confidence is a sign of competence, not arrogance, in the dental practice. 

 

To promote and maintain patient satisfaction, professional dental care providers need to keep confidence at an optimum level to ensure ongoing quality of care. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways to grow and maintain that confidence in your practice. 

 

Ways to Be Confident and Boost Patient Satisfaction 

 

A person’s levels of confidence can swing up and down due to positive or negative experiences, and criticisms. We are most confident when we are performing routine and familiar tasks.

 

Here are ways to show your confidence as a dental practitioner or hygienist: 

 

  1. Be optimistic. Think positively. While it may sound cliché, there are tangible and proven benefits to adopting an air of optimism, and your positive outlook will rub off on your patients. 
  2. Focus on the present. What do you want to accomplish today? Don’t dwell on the past. Once you have acknowledged your mistakes, learn to accept them and move forward. 
  3. Accept compliments graciously. Say thank you. What may seem like minor work to you can have a profoundly positive impact on your patients’ lives, so you should always be open to their praises. 
  4. Face your fears. When you have a busy day ahead, tackle the tasks you like least first. You will face the remainder with the confidence of knowing the worst is over. 
  5. Break down large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Knowing how to prioritize your to-dos is key to ensuring you accomplish your daily goals. 
  6. Learn and research new skills and technology. The world of dentistry is continuously advancing, and being prepared will help you keep a competitive edge. 
  7. Recognize your strengths and achievements. You have come a long way to get where you are. Remember to celebrate successes. 
  8. Manage stress. Don’t let your own wellness get lost in the daily grind. Develop effective coping strategies, and take moments to just breathe throughout your day. 
  9. Smile. Learn to laugh at yourself. Take pleasure in your daily tasks. 
  10. Believe in yourself and your team. Positive reinforcement will help everyone in the practice grow their confidence and boost patient satisfaction. 

Image: wavebreakmediamicro

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