Nov. '09 KOMET Korner Q&A with Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA

Nov. 19, 2009
In this month's KOMET Korner Q&A, Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA, answers questions on how to have healthier snacks in the office, how the recession is affecting dentistry, and when a rotary instrument is worn out.
Shari Becker is back to answer your KOMET Korner questions. As you may remember, Shari helped develop the Shari Becker Provisional Fabrication Kit for KOMET USA. This month, she answers questions on how to have healthier snacks in the office, how the recession is affecting dentistry, and when a rotary instrument is worn out. We thank Shari for participating in Dental Assisting Digest’s interactive column. Don’t forget, we want to know what’s on your mind. If you have something you want to ask the KOMET USA panel of assistants, please e-mail [email protected]. Keep your questions coming, and we promise to answer them in next month’s issue.DAD: Our office has a major food problem. It’s always filled with either sugary or salty snacks. We’re trying to change our snacking habits, but it’s difficult, especially when sales reps and dealers constantly bring us junk food. How do you suggest we change our snacking habits to more healthy choices?
Becker: I would bet that you’re not the only one who wants healthier snacks in the office, but you are the brave one for bringing it up. I suggest YOU bring in your own healthy snack options. Start by bringing in fresh fruits and vegetables. Pretzels are a nice alternative to chips, and nuts are another great snack option. As for your sales reps and dealers, tell them your office is trying to be more health conscious, and while you’re grateful for the gifts, you’d prefer they cut back on bringing in sweets. If they want to continue to bring the delicious treats, perhaps they could bring in smaller quantities less frequently. Honesty is the best policy. Keep in mind that some of the goodies are OK, but eat everything in moderation.DAD: We have a high-end family practice. Lately we’re noticing the recession is trickling down to us. People are not canceling their appointments, but they are bombarding us with calls to negotiate lower prices for our services. How do you suggest we handle this situation?
Becker: The current economy has affected many people. The fact that your patients are not canceling appointments tells you that they do value your services. I’m sure that when your doctor set the practice fees, he or she took into consideration hard costs, overhead, and profit. One way to approach patients is to let them know you have tried to make their financial interests a priority by NOT raising fees. Of course, that depends on the last time you did so. Another approach may be to allow your patients to pay their fee over time with minimal or no interest, depending on how much time they need. There are multiple financial agencies geared to dental financing that may also be an option. Phasing treatment may be presented to patients. Finally, your doctor may want to consider a discount for cash as another alternative. In trying to be sensitive to all our patients’ financial concerns, we need to be good communicators and find out what the real objection is. Simply offering some financial alternatives may be the solution to your patients’ concerns. It is apparent that they value your services. Finding a way to have a treatment plan fit comfortably into their budget is the issue, and that is easy to overcome by offering financial alternatives.DAD: How do you know when a rotary instrument is worn out?
Becker: The fact that you’re asking about this is fabulous. When the bur no longer cuts effectively is the best and easiest indicator regarding when to discard a rotary instrument. Other indications are irregular cutting, and difficulty in removing debris from the instrument. With some instruments you can actually see change with repeated sterilization, wear, and tear. My doctor, who uses the majority of our high-speed rotary instruments, decides on what burs he uses. He discards worn-out burs chairside and I replace them immediately. Knowing your instrument’s limitations is important, and using instruments from a reputable company (i.e., KOMET USA) that can answer questions on maintenance, replacement, and sterilization is also valuable. Your local representative should be able to answer any questions you may have regarding this topic.About Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAAShari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA, has been a full-time chairside assistant for Dr. Stephen R. Snow in Danville, Calif., for 14 years, and has been an RDA and CDA since 1985. Shari is on the faculty at the Mt. Diablo Adult Education Center in Concord, Calif., and has been teaching dental assisting for more than 12 years. She is a member of the American Dental Assistants Association, the California Dental Assistants Association, Diablo Dental Assistants Society, the California Association of Dental Assisting Teachers, and the California Council on Adult Education. She is a fellow of the American Dental Assistants Association and is currently serving as the 12th District Trustee to the American Dental Assistants Association, representing California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Guam. She has served in many capacities on the local, state, and national levels, including president of the California Dental Assistant Association and president of the California Association of Dental Assisting Teachers. Shari is currently working in conjunction with dental manufacturing companies to heighten the awareness and acknowledge the contribution of dental assistants to the profession of dentistry.