Do you cringe every time you hear a call for a hygiene exam? Do you feel that your hygiene checks could be more productive and faster? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a common frustration that I hear from both dentists and hygienists.
Hygienists: I have to wait so long for a doctor exam
Doctors: I go in there to do an exam and my hygienist hasn’t even mentioned to the patient that they have a broken molar
Here are 3 ways to make hygiene exams quicker, productive and much less painful:
#1 Allow your hygienist to participate in the discovery and diagnosis process. This includes taking intra-oral photos and sharing their concerns about dental problems whether they are perio or restorative. Set the expectation with your hygienist that you would like restorative needs to be addressed before you enter the room. This is most easily done when you have created a master treatment plan. This removes a roadblock that some hygienists encounter: “but I can’t diagnose”. If the actual diagnosis has already been made then he/she can simply view the next section of planned treatment and be sure it is still the most urgent. Then reviewing the problems becomes easy, especially when intra-oral cameras or digital cameras are used. Suddenly, when you arrive for the exam, there is a photo of the problem on the patient monitor and Ms. Jones is ready to schedule. All she needs is your confirmation.
The very first step to increasing hygiene co- diagnosis is getting you and your hygienist(s) on the same page. Using our Case Review protocol helps you make this happen. Click Here to check out an article I wrote for Dentistry Today where I revealed this powerful tool.
#2 Give your hygienist a systematic approach to the hygiene exam. Then set the expectation that all points of the exam should be complete BEFORE scaling and BEFORE calling for a doctor exam. You can create your own exam protocol or email me and I am happy to share ours with you. Rachel@InspiredHygiene.com. This leads us to Step #3.
#3 Be open to checking hygiene before the end of the appointment. If your hygienist is completing her exam before beginning to scale, then she will be ready to go within 20-30 minutes of beginning the appointment with all the information you need. She can call you for an exam at that point and then you have 15-20 minutes if you need to finish a procedure. Give her permission to call you again after 10 minutes have passed.
A great way to make this easy is to use a communication system. You may have a light system or you may have the “run up the hall” system. My favorite is radio communication. The Motorola TalkAbout 6510 with headset is a great, affordable unit and is available at Radio Shack and most office supply stores. This system allows all team members to communicate important information as well as calling for Doc exams. There is one caveat to using radio communication, everyone (that’s right, you too) must make an agreement to wear their radio at all times, no exceptions. If one team member slacks off, the system just doesn’t work. Stay tuned for more on this idea in a future e-zine.