Watch Your Mouth - Are You Talking Too Much?

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As clinicians and customer service representatives, obviously we’re required to interact with patients, but there’s a fine line between being professional and knowing when you’ve shared a little too much about your personal life. While we certainly don’t want to appear cold and indifferent, getting too involved personally with a patient can have an adverse reaction. Also, some patients would rather not engage during an appointment unless it’s related to their oral health.

Building rapport with patients is extremely important, and we’re expected to be comforting, informative, and professional. However, chatting the entire appointment about irrelevant and personal matters can cause some patients to become annoyed and stressed. Therefore, acquiring the skill of reading people is very important and will prevent awkwardness and embarrassment. It’s not too difficult to pick up on a patient’s demeanor and adjust your communication skills if you pay close attention to their cues and body language.

When a patient comes into the operatory, it’s their time, and they need your undivided attention. They may have issues they want to discuss, or they may not want to talk at all. Patients can change their demeanor from one visit to the next, and everyone has a bad day. If you sense the patient is annoyed, remain silent and let them initiate any interaction. However, if there’s a dental issue at hand, informing the patient is important. You don’t have to overdo it, but make sure they’re aware of any issue(s) you find.

Another important point is to make sure your conversation is appropriate. Some topics such as religion and politics are off-limits. Also, keep the conversation focused on the patient. While you want them to get to know you, they may not want to hear all about your life. Some people will want to know everything about you but use discretion. Vacations, children, career, grandchildren, and pets are usually a safe subject. With a little practice and patience, you’ll become a pro at knowing when to share and when to watch your mouth.

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Tooth Extractions - General Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

missing tooth

If you’re facing a tooth extraction, you may be wondering if your general dentist or an oral surgeon will be performing the service? While both general dentists and oral surgeons extract teeth, there are several issues to consider before making your appointment.

The first step is to visit your general dentist to determine if an extraction is necessary. A clinical exam and x-rays will be necessary for your dentist to make an accurate diagnosis and decide whether they will perform the procedure. The criteria for extraction by a general dentist is based on:

  • Bone around the tooth- If there’s bone loss around the tooth, it’ll be easier to remove. Therefore, a general dentist will frequently extract.
  • The presence and extent of infection- If there’s significant infection surrounding the tooth, you may be referred to a specialist.
  • The severity of pain- If anesthesia is given and the pain is still intolerable, a referral may be in order so that you may receive a sedative via IV.
  • Impacted teeth- More often than not, if your tooth is impacted, you’ll be referred to an oral surgeon because of the intensity of the procedure. IV sedation is commonly used with this type of surgery.
  • Broken or severely decayed teeth- If your tooth is broken or severely decayed, it’ll be more difficult to remove because of the probability of breakage. When this occurs, the tooth must be removed in pieces making an oral surgeon the better choice.
  • An implant is going to be placed- If your tooth is being extracted and an implant is being placed simultaneously, an oral surgeon is recommended since they place the implant. Even if an implant isn’t placed immediately, the oral surgeon may still want to perform the extraction if the socket needs further treatment to support an implant later.
  • Extensive medical history- If you have medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, blood disorders, or a complicated medical history, most dentists will automatically refer to an oral surgeon. It’s much safer for you because of the controlled environment and monitoring protocol while under anesthesia.

Most dentists know their limitations when it comes to extracting teeth and won’t hesitate to refer you to a specialist who is proficient in more complicated procedures. For this reason, if you’re referred to an oral surgeon, follow the recommendation.

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The FDA Issues a Directive Regarding the Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors

eCigarette

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a directive on November 15, 2018, stating that electronic cigarettes and certain flavorings will only be sold to adults in stores where there are age restrictions for entering and buying. Online sales will also continue, but more diligent protocol will be in place for age verification.

The use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices has been on a steady increase, and a large part of that increase is kids in middle and high school. There’s also a large adult population using these devices to help them quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Most adults prefer mint flavorings in their device while around 50% of kids prefer flavors like chocolate, bubblegum, fruit, vanilla, and cinnamon, to name a few. With adults preferring tobacco, menthol, and mint flavors, the FDA statement excludes these flavors because they assist adults in transitioning from traditional cigarettes. As a result, these flavors will still be available in stores where there’s no age exclusion.

In advance of the directive, there was an increase in warnings sent and fines incurred by stores and online retailers concerning the sale of these products to minors and the consequences of violations will get more severe over time. Even with all these safeguards in place, it’s still important for parents to be aware of teens using e-cigarettes and vapes to prevent the number from becoming higher.

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Professional New Year’s Resolutions? Yes, Please!

2019 new years resolution

The new year is upon us, and so is the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. While most people vow to workout, lose weight, or gain control of bad habits, does anyone commit to professional resolutions? Setting goals for your dental practice should be on the top of the list.

The new year is the perfect time to reexamine what works and what doesn’t in your office. Following are some tips on how to brave the new year with a clean slate.

  1. Be honest with yourself- Now’s the time to get to the bottom of what is and what isn’t beneficial. A thriving practice embraces change and has a willingness to learn. Furthermore, it’s not unusual to outgrow some of the policies that are in place. What worked last year may not work in the new year and making new policies and procedures shouldn’t be overlooked.
  2. Make a list- It’s crucial to list all policies and procedures in and out of the operatory. Covering all the bases from fillings and crowns to insurance and team member management will establish that each department is evaluated and streamlined.
  3. Be open to change if it’s necessary- It can be scary to examine popular ideas, but if it’s something you feel compassionate about, go forward. You’ll rarely regret trying something, and if it doesn’t mesh with your goals and morals, revise and begin again. Remember, this is your practice, and you can add or subtract whatever you wish. It’s certainly not a mistake to attempt something and reconsider if it fails.
  4. Involve the team- Hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with an awesome group of professionals who have your best interest at heart. However, if there are team members who need a change of scenery, it may be best to sit down with them and part ways on a pleasant note. For those who are the foundation of your practice, appreciate them and allow them to learn the unfamiliar and embrace innovation. Keep them involved in deciding what’s best for the practice.
  5. Be brave- Change can be scary because the unknown is terrifying but taking baby steps can ease any concerns. You don’t have to implement changes all at once, but not taking the first step will keep you stuck in a rut. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are educational courses everywhere and having a structured plan in place will help with implementation. Having a professional at your fingertips to guide the way is a very wise investment.

In closing, revisit your resolutions with your team on a monthly basis and be honest, open, and brave. Following through with these tips will assure that you ring in new year with prosperity and happiness.

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Protocol for a broken denture

dentures

Although dentures and partial dentures are made with quality materials, they do break from time to time which can be very inconvenient. What causes a denture or partial to break?

  • Stress from chewing and occluding weakens the material
  • Hot, cold, and acidic foods alter the components causing breakdown
  • Bone resorption resulting in pressure points and undue stress leading to breakage
  • Deterioration from normal wear and tear
  • Accidents like dropping the denture or the family dog chewing it beyond repair

If your denture or partial breaks, the first thing you should do is contact your dentist because eating, talking, and being around others can be a negative experience without your teeth. Depending on the severity of the break, your dentist may be able to fix your denture or partial in the office. However, if the break is serious, it may have to be sent to a lab for repair which can take days. There are denture repair kits over-the-counter, but they aren’t recommended since their use can cause irreparable damage.

If you have a partial denture, there is some good news regarding deterioration and fracture. Traditionally, partial dentures were made with polymethylmethacrylate acrylic and metal which is very rigid and has no flexibility. More and more dentists are now using a biocompatible nylon thermoplastic substance that is flexible and more forgiving than polymethylmethacrylate acrylic. Fabrication with a flexible material reduces breakage, so it may be beneficial to discuss this type of partial with your dentist.

There are steps you can take to prevent a disaster with your denture or partial. You should care for your prosthesis as you would your natural teeth. Daily care and maintenance is a must. Remove the denture or partial at least twice per day and brush them with a denture brush and non-abrasive toothpaste. They should be soaked once per week in a cleaner manufactured for dentures and partials. Taking them out at night and soaking them in water also helps keep the integrity of the prosthesis. It’s important to keep them wet when they’re out of your mouth. By following these guidelines, your denture or partial can give you many years of comfort and a beautiful smile.

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