Paul J. Jacobs, DDS, D,ABDSM
How To Really Mess Up A Hygienist's Day
You are an amazing dental hygienist and you are at the top of your game and it is the top of the day. Then it happens. You begin probing your third patient of the day. Everything seemed fine. You were on time, and the patient was on time. You knew it would happen . . . sometime. . . today.
Your hygiene assistant records the numbers. “Three, two, three, three, two, three, FIVE! one, two, four, one, FIVE! You think to yourself – do I keep going? It seemed like everything was fine last time she was here. Is there bleeding? Is there inflammation? Will there be more fives? Will there be sixes sevens or eight? How much bleeding? And in the back of your mind – what will I do and how will I find the time to do it? What was surely going to be a simple prophylaxis and a nice visit with Mrs. Jones has just turned into a nightmare flood of thoughts about how your day could rapidly deteriorate.
Unfortunately, this is an everyday scenario in every dental office. These are the problems that come to mind. How will I explain to Mrs. Jones that she has a periodontal problem? What words will I use to describe it? At what point – what probing numbers and what amount of bleeding – will I use to make the call? And what will I say to the dentist? And how will the patient respond? And what words will I use to describe the treatment necessary? And how will I convey to the patient the cost involved and the number of appointments necessary to treat this condition? And of course the stress involved knowing that Mrs. Jones is expecting her teeth be cleaned today.
Enter the bloody prophy. Even though this has happened to you hundreds of times in your career, it’s still difficult to make a split second decision about moving forward and satisfying the patient or calling in the doctor and choosing a completely different path. You know what the outcome of a bloody prophy will be. Some calculus remaining – so it’s only going to be worse next time. Having to apologize for an uncomfortable, tear jerking procedure. Working past the appointed time while keeping your next patient waiting. And not getting paid for what you have actually done and not fully educating your patient on improved dental hygiene home care.
Agreeing On When To Initiate Perio Therapy
So let’s rewind this scenario 45 minutes and start over with Perio360 therapy. You are able to confidently complete your probing and call in the doctor to confirm what you have found. You easily have your words scripted to put the patient at ease while the doctor mirrors what you have told the patient using the same words. A complete diagnosis is rendered including determining the cause of the gum infection – which periodontal pathogens are present. Your patient’s questions are all answered to their satisfaction and complete home care is discussed including any necessary hygiene tools. In advance of treatment, the patient is well aware of the situation, the prognosis, the number of appointments necessary for treatment, and of course the exact cost of treatment.
You have not only preserved your on time performance, but you have now improved the health and care of your patient. You have given yourself the time you need to comfortably and adequately treat your patient. You have created a new disciple of good dental care and of your practice. And finally avoided the “bloody prophy“.
If this is you, and most dentists and hygienists reading this will have encountered this situation, wait no longer. If there is only one thing you do this year to improve your dental practice let it be incorporating Perio360 therapy into your hygiene protocol.