Hygiene visits are still often under-appreciated - both by patients and dentists.

Patients tend to think of them as cleanings, which makes it sound like what they do at home before going to bed. That’s why I have always advised dental teams to avoid using that term in the practice, and instead to talk about comprehensive clinical hygiene care. Establishing the right mindset is important in getting patients to appreciate the right value.

The same thing goes for dentists. Just about every dentist understands the importance of regular hygiene care—from a clinical standpoint. But the reality of life in the practice means it is also easy for them to see their role in the process - the hygiene check - as an interruption in an already busy day. It becomes a duty to be performed, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then it’s on to the next patient.

The Hygiene Exam: An Opportunity to Create Value

But getting full value from a hygiene exam - for the patient and for you - means going beyond immediate clinical concerns. It means using the visit as an opportunity to continue to create value for great dentistry and to keep passions high. It means going beyond a simple “everything looks fine - carry on” and taking a few moments to engage with the patient, to review their oral health goals and talk about their possibilities. It means using this visit to keep their enthusiasm and commitment alive.

It’s also important to note that I really do mean a few moments. I’m not talking about re-arranging your schedule to accommodate extended visits to the hygiene chair. All you need to do is to remember to slow down enough to ask some basic questions about the patient's vision for their oral health, to offer some preliminary thoughts on their possibilities, to elevate their thinking about their oral health and in the process to create value for yourself and your practice as providers of thorough dental care.

If it seems that you and your patients are approaching hygiene visits as just something that needs to be done it’s time to re-invent the experience and get full value from the relationship-building opportunity it represents.


Commenter's Profile Image Barry Polansky
September 24th, 2014
Hygiene---where the whole practice comes together. Hygiene puts the "relationship" in long-term relationship based dentistry. As Imtiaz says---what an opportunity--to create and maintain the relationship. At a certain point in a practice this is where most of the dentistry comes from because this is where the trust level is the highest. One thing I see is dentists teaching hygienists to "sell" dentistry. Too much unnecessary pressure---just keep the relationship going--- Great topic.
Commenter's Profile Image Trisha O'Hehir
September 24th, 2014
Great perspective! Thanks for your strong support of dental hygienists! I've always enjoyed building the relationship as a triangle: the patient, the dentist and me. The patient and I converse and then we bring the dentist in and bring him/her up to speed and ask for advice and input. Great way to work in the best interest of the patient and making sure the expertise of the dentist is communicated to the patient.