I have worked with thousands of dentists over the last 15 years of teaching, and I have learned that the dentists who are most successful in their practices, not only materially but also spiritually, have some things in common.

  • They believe that their practices are centers of learning rather than dental offices.
  • They realize that every patient contact and every treatment session are opportunities to engage patients to learn about their mouths and to help them choose health for themselves.

The hygiene “check” is a chance for you put both of these methods into practice.  How would your short time with the patient during their visit be different if your hygienist engaged the patient around these three questions?


  1. Where have they been (dentally)?
  2. Where are they today? (dentally and any other way that might affect their choices)
  3. Where do they want to go?


It is a simple formula, really. Yet it requires a willingness to engage the patient on a deeper level. It means we need to really open our ears and listen carefully.  It also means asking some courageous questions. Begin by reviewing with the patient where they have been since they joined the practice, discuss where they are today and then simply ask, “What would you like your mouth to look and feel like in 20 years?”

You only have the right to give advice or make suggestions if the patient feels as though you have heard them!