HB 154- A New Law in the State of Georgia
HB 154 was signed into law on May 8th in the state of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal. The new law allows Dental Hygienists to practice under general supervision in private practice and a variety of “safety net settings”.
Georgia now joins more than forty other states which allow Georgia licensed dentists to allow the Georgia licensed dental hygienists in their employment to perform oral prophylaxis, apply fluoride, sealants, and in certain cases, take X-rays, without the dentist being physically on site.
A “Safety Net Setting” includes the following types of institutions:
Federally Qualified Health Centers
Family Violence Shelters
Long-Term Care Communities (Nursing Homes)
Title I Schools and Hospitals
Volunteer Community Health Settings
It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 4 children in Georgia do not receive preventive dental care. Furthermore, senior citizens are also at high risk for undetected dental abnormalities. Dental Hygienists will now be able to provide preventative services to these overlooked citizens and refer them to a dentist when necessary.
This is a very positive outcome for the field of dentistry and the state of Georgia. Preventative assistance will be available to patients who would otherwise be unable to receive these services.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
Have you ever wondered what your teeth look like on the inside? They might look hard and white, but beneath the surface is a fascinating world. Below we look at the anatomy of a tooth, and explore the different types of teeth you have in your mouth.
The Four Dental Tissues
Teeth contain four key dental tissues. Enamel, cementum and dentin are hard tissues, while the fourth, pulp, is a soft tissue.
Enamel is the hard calcified tissue in the crown of the tooth, which covers the dentin. Enamel cannot repair any decay or damage caused by wear and tear, because it does not contain any living cells.
Cementum is the hard connective tissue which covers the root of the tooth, providing an attachment to the periodontal ligament.
Dentin is found beneath the enamel and cementum. Dentin contains microscopic canals and tubes. When enamel is lost and the dentin is exposed, these canals and tubes allow hot and cold foods to stimulate nerves inside the tooth. This is the cause of sensitive teeth.
Pulp is contained within the very centre of the tooth. This soft material contains connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves.
Other Parts of the Tooth
The crown is the part of the tooth which is visible in your mouth. It will normally be covered in enamel.
The gums (gingiva) are the soft tissues which protect and cover the roots of the tooth, and also cover teeth which have not yet erupted into the mouth.
The root canal is the space within the root which contains pulp.
Types of Teeth
There are four types of teeth inside your mouth and each performs a certain function.
Incisors – At the front of your mouth are eight straight, thin teeth known as incisors. There are four at the top and four at the bottom. These teeth are used to bite into food, to support the lips and to help with the pronunciation of words when you speak.
Canines – On each side of the top and bottom sets of incisors is a single canine tooth. These pointy teeth are used for biting and tearing food and also help to support your lips. The canine teeth also act as a guide to bring your teeth into line when you close your mouth.
Premolars – Behind the canines, running towards the rear of the mouth are the premolar teeth. Premolars are flat on top and are used for chewing food. There are normally a total of eight premolars, four on the top and four on the bottom of the jaw.
Molars – Finally, at the very rear of the mouth are the molars. These are the widest and flattest of all the teeth. There are normally 12 molars in an adult mouth, with six at the top and six at the bottom.
While the normal adult mouth contains 32 teeth, sometimes extra teeth can develop in the mouth. These supernumerary teeth do not always cause problems, but if they are crowding the mouth they may need to be removed by a dentist.
How Patients Choose A New Dentist
This blog is written to help you step out of your shoes as the dentist and see the patient's perspective from the dental chair. Here are some things that consumers look for in finding a new dentist, what does your practice do to help answer new patient questions?
For the most part, patients are looking for:
- Personality of Practitioner
- Career Experience and Qualifications
- Conservative Costs, but with Effective Results
- Ratings and Reviews from Peers
According to the American Dental Association, when patients are searching for a new dentist they should consider either asking friends or family or local pharmacists to get an idea of what local dental surgeries are out there. Often, these recommendations come from personal experience and can give you a better insight into the service they provide.
Here are some additional facts we found through the ADA:
- 30% of patients look for what unique treatments a practice can offer (such as one-day restorations or CEREC Machines)8% are looking for a new dentist because they have moved county. Dental practices are desperate to refill empty patient slots.
- 27% of potential patients say the qualifications of their dental practitioner is 'very important' in their decision of who to sign-up to.
- 12% of people don't understand dental fees, whilst 80% of all dentistry is elective, many people don't sign up to dental practices because they think it is expensive
- 62% of people think that their dentist's attitude reflects on their choice to sign-up and say this is one of the biggest factors in their decision.
The Patient Perspective
If we were writing an article for a person seeking a new dentist, here's what we would tell them:
- What are your office hours? Am I free to contact you?
Remember that dental health isn't just about regular check-ups and dental surgery. If you should ever need it, your dentists should also be someone you can consult about any non-emergency dental question such as toothpaste or mouthwash recommendations.
- What is your approach to preventative dentistry?
A dentist that is working for you rather than for themselves will have a comprehensive approach to preventative dental medicine. It's simple to understand whether a dental practitioner is right for you based on this; you want to know that your dentists will prevent a cavity rather than wait for it to develop and require extensive surgery.
- What is your policy on missed appointments?
We all have hectic lives and sometimes we miss appointments. That is simply a fact of life and needs to be considered when choosing your dentist. You ideally want a practitioner who is accommodating and who will make your experience a positive one – you don't want a dental practice that will black-list you for one missed appointment. Knowing this policy in advance can save you a headache in the future.
Once these have been addressed, usually the best next move is to visit the office. This way you can take first hand stock of the office you will visit regularly. Does the staff seem friendly and accommodating: staff you would want to see every time you have to go to the dentist?
Make notes of things like cleanliness and functionality – these will be a good indicator not only of how well maintained the surgery is but also how much is invested in the atmosphere; little investment in the décor and upkeep usually hints at sloppy service.
Lastly, although dental care varies from state to state, it is a good idea to contact your local state dentist association. They can give you an idea of the types of oral healthcare practitioners operate and can sometimes give recommendations based on individual needs.
5 Tips to Present this Information to New Clients
- Create an intro video for your website or social media site that introduces your practice and the warm, smiling faces of everyone at your practice.
- Add a FAQ Section or New Patient information page on your website.
- Reviews on your website are great, but consumers place more credibility to reviews on third-party sites such as Yelp. Spot-check your online reputation, and ask your patients to provide honest reviews.
- Before and after photos strongly reflect your skills and consumers remember visual data more than anything else
- Be sure to list your awards, years of practices, etc. wherever you can
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Simple Marketing That Works: Learn Why Hosting a Health Care Seminar Actually Boosts Your PR for the Long-Term!
Marketing tools don’t have to be complex to work and that’s a fact. If you want to gain long-term benefits from your PR campaign, then you need to have an effective plan in place. As a dental professional, you should ensure your marketing plan focuses on the specific services your practice is equipped to offer. In other words, your health seminar is your opportunity to illustrate that your practice is about more than just improving your image. This is an opportunity to share helpful dental and medical information in an engaging way. You want your audience to take something away from the health seminar that will improve their lives.
Use Your Health Seminar to Position Yourself as a Prominent Dental Practice
You’ll hear this many times over. You can use your professional position in a way to improve your community. For the dental community, a health seminar isn’t just about bolstering patient quota, or staying on top. This is more about educating and sharing with those who can benefit from the facts. Any health seminar or public relations campaign should highlight those needs. Maintaining a balanced ethical front truly influences your audience.
Furthermore, for the biggest PR boost, the focus should be on those community services needs, which are highest in demand as well! For instance, if a community of retiree’s resides near your medical practice, your health seminar should offer medical information related to conditions and needs such as:
- Proper nutrition
- Proper oral heath care
- Prompt treatment for gingivitis and other oral health issues
- Proper oral heath techniques for children
- Offering community outreach
- And more
The right marketing approach does pack the perfect punch and there should be no doubt how effective a free health seminar can truly be for your public relations.
The Health Seminar in Action: This Can Make All The Difference
Now you know. Free, public health seminars are proven to be excellent ways of growing a dental practice and broadening your practice’s visibility. This widens the potential for growing and acquiring new patients for a practice as well. For instance, when community members do attend a free, open health seminar they can then discover what the dental group or practice is about and what principles they stand by.
Furthermore, when it comes to speaking at a seminar, you can be an influential figure. You can establish your practice as one, which promotes individual patient care. You can demonstrate you are more about reaching out to make a difference in others lives through proper healthcare, health education and dental treatments as well.
This is exactly how you can build the credibility your practice needs to manage and maintain continuous growth and financial success. You want to prove you’re about more than just your dental practice; you’re about servicing the needs of those within your community.
Steven Yee DDS
Pam Melollon RDH
Monica Foley DDS
Stacey Nichols RDA
Tamara Simac RDA