There are a lot of things you need to be able to do to be a good dental hygienist; while you may get hung up on the technical side of cleaning teeth, assisting dentists, x-rays, education, assessing oral health and other such tasks, remember there is more to being the best dental hygienist you can be than to just be good with the industrial stuff.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 38% increase in dental hygienists by 2020 – that means you have to work harder to put yourself ahead of the crowd.
Of course it isn’t everything, but being able to work the machines, equipment and knowing the procedures is definitely a large part of being the best you can possibly be. You have to get to a place through formative training as well as personal development where you are happy and confident to work with a range of equipment to do many tasks.
Try to focus on gaining detail of how things work in addition to simply knowing how to operate them. You might work with a brand of equipment that you are not familiar with even though you know how to use the particular device. It is always worth keeping up to date with industrial changes and developments like new procedures to stay ahead of the curve.
The best dental hygienists understand the need for clear and friendly communication in everything they do. In a typical day you might have to concisely describe a procedure, listen to patients and communicate with office staff to make sure your work is carried out to the best it can be.
A large majority of a successful dental hygienists time is education: teaching patients basic hygiene skills in addition to explaining what sort of medical issues they may be dealing with.
Remember that you may need to explain exactly how a patient needs to use a certain tool or how to effectively use a prescribed mouthwash to best effect. You need to be an all round communicator to do your job in the best way.
It is estimated that a total of 30% to 50% of all American adults have had at least mild or moderate gum disease, with up to 15% of these having a more serious case. Now, research has found that all forms of gum disease are linked to more serious health related illnesses including diabetes, respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, heart disease and pregnancy issues, among others.
One of the more problematic diseases linked to the gum disease ‘periodontal disease’ is diabetes, with approximately 95% of Americans having both. Periodontal disease increases inflammation and makes it more difficult to control diabetes. In turn, diabetes is known to aggravate dental diseases such as ulcers and tooth decay.
Gum disease increases blood sugar.
Gum disease has also been linked to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. It is 4 times more likely that you will develop pneumonia if you have gum disease such as periodontal infection. However, treating the disease can decrease the risk of developing pneumonia.
Further, people with the gum disease are 3 times more likely to suffer a stroke and the inflammation of the gums can release bacteria into the blood stream that can contribute to clogged arteries. Diseases such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) cause the blockage of airways and could lead to re-infection from diseased gum bacteria.
Gum disease can stimulate the release of a hormone called prostaglandin. This kick- starts labor and can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. Expectant mothers with gum disease are 7 times more likely to experience this.
Osteoporosis too is linked to health, with your jaws bone strength and durability seriously reduced by a high intake of alcohol and cigarettes. A balance diet including milk and vitamin D can help prevent this. The risk of tooth loss is 3 times greater in women with osteoporosis than those without.
In this day and age, dental hygienists like you don’t need to worry about work or keeping up to date with the newest developments in dentistry. There is a whole blogosphere out there dedicated to dental hygiene and keeping YOU informed and at the top of your game in an ever changing industry. More than that, they’re often packed with lots of insider tips. In no particular order, check them out below:
This is one of the best blogs, especially for people new to the profession – but Jenn does something differently. She makes her blog personal so she can blend her home life with her work to give you informal tips and a better idea of what like a Dental Hygienist is really like.
2. Dr. Vinograd
This blogger is slightly different with his approach to dental medicine with a holistic ideal. He writes mostly about biocompatible and mercury free procedures, and whilst most of his work is experimental it can be a real eye opener.
A blog that is a good all rounder, that focuses mainly on dentistry practice but also touches on the ideas of marketing not only your services but yourself.
Brent really works to undo the myths that are so often associated with dentistry and writes under the heading of ‘Mental Floss’.
5. Dental Focus
This blog doesn’t focus specifically on the dentistry but rather on the marketing that might need to go into your business if you decide to open your own independent practice. It’s got loads of good tips and is well worth a look if you thinking of expanding.
6. Kevin Tighe
With his self professed ‘tips from the trenches’ this blog is well worth a look if you are just starting out and need some defiantly helpful starter advice.
7. RDH girl @ Confessions of a Dental Hygienist
This wonderful and independent blog is a more tongue in cheek approach the blogs about dental hygiene (excuse the pun) and is the perfect blend of humor and information.
These dental hygienists offer a blog with a twist. The married couple says their blog aims to ‘launch dentists beyond their excuses and into an epic life’. The blog offers a weekly podcasts about both dental practice as well as inspiration for a more successful practice.
Focus above, Naomi tends to spend more time on the marketing side of dentistry rather than the practice. Her blog is special because it works to tell you all about how you can use social media to work for you and give you the best customer response.
10. Mark Frias
Mark is a straight-up no nonsense dental hygienist and his blog can be really helpful for beginners. His newest post ‘Why hygienists should consider buying their own instruments’ is well worth a read.
Our infographic illustrates how the cosmetic dental industry has grown.
Cosmetic Dentistry is the practice of improving your teeth and smile. Not only can these procedures provide great aesthetic value, but can trial oral problems such as your gums and bit.
In any business or practice, there is always the task of not only drawing in new clients but also retaining the current ones that you already have. It is a dog eat dog world out there, and it is important to remember that there will always be competition trying to out do you and vie for the affections of your clients. Today we will look at 5 ways to keep your current client base happy, satisfied, and returning.
Flexible Appointment Times
It is important to remember that your clients are parents and employees who have busy schedules to try to maintain. Try to organize your schedule to be flexible and accommodating when your clients are trying to make their appointments. Perhaps, once or twice a week offer appointment times that are unusual or unique such as a 6 or 8 p.m time slot. Also, be willing to work with clients and do tailored slots when special circumstances call for it. !
Quality Customer Service
Make it a point to let your customers know that they are highly valued and care for them well. The minute that they walk into your office they should be greeted in a way that lets them know that the experience that they have with you matters. When your front desk answers the phone, have a policy that lets the waiting or holding period be a very short amount of time. Everyone in your office should be united in shining your office in the best, friendliest light possible.
In all that you do, go above and beyond to maintain a high level of professionalism. This should carry over to all aspects that encompass your office: in the way your waiting room and welcome desk are presented, in the scheduling, and the way you present yourself as their dentist. Organization speaks volumes when it comes to being perceived in a professional manner.
For those clients who have a proven and loyal track record, make rewards, gifts, and discounts available to them. Offer discounts for birthdays or waiver a small fee for different services that you offer. Let the clients that you have built long, strong standing relationships with know that you are thankful for their loyalty.
Keep Clients Updated
There are so many avenues that you can utilize when trying to keep your current clients up to date with what is going on with your practice. A few options to consider would be sending out a newsletter either by mail or email, opening a Twitter or Facebook account to update clients daily with relevant news or witty comments, or start a blog that highlights the importance that you place on high quality care and customer satisfaction. The best part is that all of these options are completely free and are available at your fingertips.
Marketing & Advertising
In a world that has slowly become dictated by how you market who you are as a brand, it is vital to utilize all the outlets that are available. Effectively marketing your dentistry practice means combining traditional marketing strategy with the newer digital marketing that is now available.
Quality Customer Care
This is pretty simple; take care of your people. Every patient that walks through your door should feel important and welcomed. Building customer repertoire goes beyond a smile and a polite, “hello”. Celebrate birthdays and holidays. Have a policy that no customer will be left on hold longer than 2 minutes. Consider sending out a monthly newsletter. It is important to find ways to let your clients know that you care and that you want them to be updated and a part of all the happenings within your office.
Aesthetics are everything. Make sure your website is professional looking and represents your brand and practice seamlessly. Though we live in a tech savvy generation, be sure that your site is easy to navigate for even the most technologically inept. You can also use your website as another form of marketing.
Run specials and discounts for your current client base. Let them know that they are appreciated and valued. If you have a new service you are offering, publicize it by offering it at a discounted price. Nothing gets people excited like a bargain!
Have a system where your clients have the option to do an accelerated check where they can skip the line and wait. This can be developed online or through having multiple check-in options at your front desk.
Encourage your clients to help you market by offering gifts and services for every family member or friend that they refer. The gift can be anything from a gift card, to a discount on one of the services that you offer.
Find out what you do good and bad. Any successful endeavor is accompanied with humility, so be willing to see what you can improve upon to give your clients the best experience. Surveys also give you the chance to celebrate what you do well, and give you the chance to see what you have improved upon since the last survey.
Comfortable Waiting Rooms
Make your waiting room comfortable and relaxed for your patients. Make it an extension of home rather than an uncomfortable waiting room. This could mean anything from comfy couches to interesting books to read. Try to create a welcoming environment.
Being involved in your community is a great, free way to market your practice. People like businesses that are involved and care about the people around them. There are numerous ways to get involved with church, charities, and programs.
Keep records of clients and if you see that someone has been inactive for a year, make an effort to let them know they are missed. You could send a card or a discount or some form of communication to try and draw them back in.
With all the latest diet trends, prescription drugs, organic foods, and modern medical technology, we sometimes overlook one of the most ancient and powerful cures for so many of our ailments. It’s completely free to use, and it’s been available to every human being since the dawn of time. I am referring, of course, to SMILING!
That’s right, “A smile a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just a painful admonition from your overzealous aunt during childhood, it’s proven FACT. With one simple, sometimes effortless (as in while you’re reading this article) act, a smile can deliver the following benefits to your health:
- Releases powerful endorphins that relax your mind and your body.
- Boosts your immune system and helps you ward off disease.
- Burns calories, so you can get in shape while watching your favorite sitcom.
- Women, it turns out, are much better at smiling than men, and clock in at around 62 smiles per day, while men register a measly 8 smiles. C’mon guys!
In addition to all those health benefits, we just look better when we smile. And frowning takes too much effort anyway – 62 different muscles, in fact, compared to the 26 necessary for a smile. So, improve your confidence, look your best, and improve your health by smiling more often, you deserve it.
Triggering a patient’s gag reflex is a daily work hazard in the dental industry. It’s the quickest way to making both the patient, and ourselves feel uncomfortable, but there are ways to avoid it altogether.
The pharyngeal reflex, more commonly known as the gag reflex, has a sensitivity level that varies from person to person, making it difficult to gauge how much pressure will trigger it. Dental x-rays, with their oddly shaped and sometimes painful bite wings, are one of the biggest culprits of triggering a patient’s gag reflex.
A tendency to gag can be caused by psychological and/or physiological factors. Because the dentist’s office is far from the average person’s favorite place to visit, it can sometimes be a stressful experience for patients. Their nervousness can lead to a greater propensity to gag.
In the case of quelling those psychological factors, here is some advice:
- Speak to your patients beforehand and discuss the gag reflex openly and honestly. Ask them if they self-identify as someone with a sensitive gag reflex. They may even have some advice for what does or does not trigger it.
- Build trust, and put your patients at ease before beginning a procedure to reduce their stress level.
Some physiological factors and remedies to consider:
- Inability to breathe freely is one of the more common factors in triggering a gag reflex. Ensure that too much water or saliva does not build up at the back of the patient’s throat.
- Encourage patients with closed nasal passages to let you know beforehand. You may try providing them with some Breathe Right strips to help them breathe easier.
- Ask your patients, when possible, to always breathe through their noses.
- If your patient is struggling with her gag reflex, ask them to lightly hum to maintain a positive flow of oxygen.
- Some dental workers have used a little salt on the tongue to prevent gagging, but be sure to ask your patient for permission first.
Every patient is a little bit different, and with experience, you will learn how to make each patient experience as positive as possible. Try some of the strategies listed above, and decide what works for you and your patients. Be sure to take accurate notes of each patient on details such as their gag reflex sensitivity so you can be prepared for their next visit. Lastly, pay attention to your own habits and come up with some of your own tips to help you better handle the tricky pharyngeal reflex.
A doctor who met us at a convention stated he was able to easily take x-rays on even a young child, despite the efforts of 4 prior dentists.
A mother brought her young son into a dental practice for the first time. prep the hygienist took his x-rays using Flaps before cleaning his teeth. The mother was so surprised she was able to do it since they had been to 4 other dentists previously and none of them could get the X-ray done.
Because it is virtually impossible to constantly monitor the level of infection control in a dental office, it is extremely important that CDC-recommended procedures be followed precisely and thoroughly to avoid any risk of infection. New guidelines from the CDC, specifically for the field of dentistry, touch on the following four broad subject areas, which we will go into more detail about below:
- Hand hygiene
- Dental-unit Water Asepsis
- Surface Asepsis
- Instrument processing
Proper hand hygiene is our first line of defense in preventing and controlling infection. The following are the latest CDC guidelines to ensure proper control:
- Disposable or washable containers should be used for hand washing soaps. Do not simply refill empty containers, they should be cleaned or disposed of.
- Hands should be washed with antibacterial or non-antibacterial soap and water when visibly soiled, while a simple alcohol rub may be used for non-visibly soiled hands.
- During surgery, hands should be washed using soap and water followed by drying and thorough application of an alcohol-based surgical hand rub.
- Fingernails should be kept short and clean, while artificial fingernails and any other hand accessories should be avoided if possible.
- If a Boil Water Advisory should occur, antimicrobial cleansing agents that do not require water should be used. Visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and clean bottled water.
Dental-Unit Water Asepsis:
Dental water units such as water syringes and ultrasonic scalers can deliver contaminated water if not properly treated. Bacteria, attaching itself to the inner walls of water-line tubing, can produce a dangerous biofilm. The latest CDC water-line recommendations include:
- Use water that meets EPA standards for levels of water bacteria. Follow manufacturer guidelines for maintaining sanitary water delivery.
- Discharge any residual water and air from device for 20-30 seconds after each use.
- During a Boil Water Advisory, do not deliver water to patients through dental water units.
- Disinfect water lines as recommended by the manufacturer after advisory is lifted.
Special care should be taken to ensure that surface areas of clinical equipment used during examination are properly covered or cleaned and disinfected if they become contaminated in any way. Surface covers may be counted on for protecting surfaces that are difficult to clean such as electrical switches.
- For cleaning and disinfecting, a low-level EPA-approved disinfectant can be used to sanitize surface areas. For visibly soiled surfaces, an intermediate-level disinfectant should be used.
- High-level disinfectants should not be used on environmental surfaces.
- Housekeeping surfaces may be cleaned regularly with a mix of detergent and water, and mops or cloths should be cleaned and allowed to dry before their reuse.
Non-single-use items used in the mouth should always be cleaned, packaged, and heat- sterilized prior to their use on another patient. Heat-sensitive items that enter the mouth should be cleaned using low-temperature sterilizers.
- Allow items to dry in the sterilizing unit prior to being handled again.
- All critical level instruments should be packaged.
Implantable devices should never be sterilized without packaging.