A Productive Dental Team Meeting? Yes, Please!

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Do you and your team have regularly scheduled meetings, and are they considered to be productive and helpful? Running effective meetings is crucial to the health of your practice. On the other hand, poorly organized meetings can simply be disastrous turning into gripe sessions and waste precious time.

Meetings should be scheduled on a routine basis and conducted by the dentist or office manager. Equally important, this scheduled meeting is not the time to handle staff emergencies or be used as criticizing sessions. They must be valued by you and your team and used productively to solve problems, make goals, educate, and praise.

The following are five tips to create and maintain meetings which are successful.

  1. Agenda- An agenda is a list or outline of things to be considered or done and ensures a logical plan of what needs to be accomplished. An agenda also keeps everyone on topic and moving along promptly. It’s very easy to go off on a Therefore, an agenda keeps this from happening. Some items to consider for the agenda include policy changes, production numbers, plans for the future, and continuing education. Specific points need to be covered, and someone must be in charge of taking notes or minutes so that issues discussed receive follow-up attention.
  2. Schedule- Holding meetings on a specific day and time ensures that everyone knows when meetings will be held. They can be per week, every two weeks, or monthly, and should be an hour The dentist and office manager must be present. There are varying opinions as to whether it should be during lunch with food provided. Having the meeting at lunch encroaches on employees free time and eating during the meeting causes distractions. For these reasons, having a scheduled time without patients in the office is the best way to have the meeting. Lost revenue for this hour shouldn’t even be considered because these meetings are essential for the well-being of your practice.
  3. No Griping Allowed- No gossip or rumors are allowed during these meetings. Team members should be encouraged to communicate, but this communication must be constructive and encouraging. Also, these meetings are not for handling management functions.
  4. Training and Role Playing- Role playing can be very valuable in helping team members learn how to handle situations with other team members and patients. These meetings can also incorporate mini continuing education sessions.
  5. Praise and compliments- Take a minute to pat yourselves on the back for the service you provide to your patients. Share patient testimonials and compliments. Honor a staff member for something they did to make a patient or team members day. Always end on a positive note.

If you follow these simple steps, you will find that you and your crew look forward to the team meeting and become more productive in the process.

The Impact of Not Replacing a Missing Tooth

missing tooth

Unless you’re a child, losing a tooth can be devastating. Tooth loss occurs due to a number of reasons including decay, periodontal disease, and trauma. So, what happens if you don’t replace a missing tooth?

First and foremost, bone loss occurs at the source of the missing tooth, and over time, the jaw bone deteriorates. This deterioration is referred to as bone resorption, and without the stimulation from the roots of the teeth, it’s irreversible.

Neighboring teeth try to move into the space of the missing tooth. The teeth on either side of the space and the tooth above the space will, over a period, try to move into the open space. Although the movement takes many years, once the teeth have shifted, getting them back into their original spaces without Orthodontics isn’t possible.

You may lose the ability to eat certain foods depending on which tooth is extracted resulting in changes in nutrition levels. It may become difficult to bite and chew certain foods and can also lead to overuse of the remaining teeth to compensate for the void.

If the missing tooth is in the front of the mouth, it can impact your speech and ability to pronounce certain words. You may develop a Lisp forcing you to avoid speaking in certain situations. This can impact your social and professional life and can be very distressing.

The good news is that there are many options for replacing a missing tooth and they range in price making it affordable for most patients. The most important thing to do when you lose a tooth is to communicate with your dentist to find out what your options are and prevent these obstacles from negatively impacting your life.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

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Congratulations! You’re expecting a child! The last thing on your mind is your oral health. However, it should be first and foremost. Practicing great oral hygiene before, during, and after your pregnancy is imperative to prevent health issues for you and your baby.

First, we’ll discuss some misconceptions regarding oral health and pregnancy.

 

  1. It’s unsafe for a pregnant woman to visit the dentist- FALSE

It’s extremely important for a pregnant woman to visit her dentist regularly, just as she would if she weren’t pregnant. Furthermore, your dentist may have you come in more often during your pregnancy if you are experiencing gingivitis. X-rays aren’t generally taken during pregnancy, and many procedures are postponed until after delivery. There’s no reason to fear harm to the baby if you go to the dentist.

 

  1. Massive amounts of Calcium are lost during pregnancy to support the growing baby- FALSE.

We hear this quite often in the Dental office. Calcium isn’t moved from the teeth to other parts of the body to support the growing baby. Most Dental problems that occur during pregnancy are due to hormonal changes. Your physician will prescribe a prenatal vitamin which will support healthy growth and development of the baby.

Secondly, we’ll examine the oral health risks during pregnancy.

 

  1. Gingivitis (Inflammation and bleeding of the Gums)- the most prevalent issue during pregnancy is Gingivitis due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone in the blood. This hormone increases acid production in the mouth. Symptoms include bleeding, red, and swollen gums that bleed spontaneously or during brushing and flossing. While reversible, gingivitis shouldn’t be ignored. It can progress into Periodontitis which isn’t reversible. This increased acid in the mouth can also transfer to the unborn baby increasing the risk for low birth weight or premature birth.
  2. Tooth Decay (Cavities)- another dental issue during pregnancy is an increase in Cavities, especially if you experience morning sickness and frequent vomiting. Vomiting increases acid in the mouth which breaks down tooth enamel. It’s extremely important not to brush your teeth following vomiting. Brushing while having acid on the teeth can cause further breakdown. The best thing you can do is rinse with plain water to neutralize the acid.

 

Pregnancy should be a glorious time in your life. Being informed and cautious will ensure the best outcome for you and your baby. Visit your Dentist and follow their recommendations before, during, and after your pregnancy.

HIPPA in Regard to Emails and Texts - Part 3

text email

Part three of this blog deals with HIPPA concerning emails and texts originating from the patient and a wrap up of do’s and don’t's.

The patient may use unencrypted emails and texts to communicate with providers because HIPPA applies to health care providers and not the patient. Unless the patient has specifically stated otherwise, the provider can assume that responding to the patient using unsecured texts and/or emails is acceptable to the patient. Patients probably have no idea of the risks of using unencrypted texts and/or emails, and therefore, the provider may want to educate the patient and have signed consent and a preference form from the patient before replying to their email or text.

Signed HIPPA consent should also include a section regarding emails and texts that confirm the patient's preferences regarding communication. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law protecting consumers from unwanted calls and faxes. TCPA prohibits making pre-recorded or auto-dialed texts and calls to cell phones without the prior consent of the party being phoned or texted. This refers to auto-generated appointment reminders. Violating this law can cost the violator $500 per violation- call or text.

The bottom line is to have every single patient sign an HIPPA consent form that includes a section on emails and texts and the patient’s preferences regarding this communication.

One last note, including a confidentiality notice or disclaimer in an email, doesn’t make the email HIPPA compliant. An email originating from the practice going outside of the office containing PHI must be sent through an encrypted server.

HIPPA in Regard to Emails and Texts - Part 2

text email

Part 2 of this blog will discuss the specific rules about communication originating from the practice to third-party providers (specialists, other practices, & insurance companies) or the patient.

  1. Emails within the parameters of the office- The key here is to have a secure server and network. You shouldn’t be using a web-based email service. As long as the practice has a secure server and network, encryption isn’t necessary for sending information within the office.
  2. Emails to anyone outside of the practice (excluding the patient)- Encryption or secure messaging is mandatory if the patient’s PHI (private health information) is being sent outside of the parameters of the practice.
  3. Emails to personal email accounts- Emails originating from the office to a personal email account must not contain PHI or any attachments which include a patient’s PHI. If working from a computer outside of the practice, you must use a secure remote connection or an encrypted flash drive.
  4. Text messaging to anyone other than the patient- Text messages aren’t secure or encrypted unless the practice has a secure text messaging platform. Texts should never include a patient’s PHI because it’s very easy to have the text intercepted.

Texts and emailing is extremely convenient, and most patients will welcome this type of communication. To be compliant, you must either use a messaging system with encryption or incorporate a patient portal which requires a patient to log in.

If you wish to use a system which isn’t encrypted, the patient must be informed of the risk of information becoming obtained by a third party. As long as permission is obtained from the patient and kept on file, the practice may communicate in this manner.

Part 3 of this blog will deal with HIPPA concerning emails and texts originating from the patient and a wrap up of the do’s and don’t’s.

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