Become a chairside dental home care educator
Who do patients turn to when they need excellent dental home care advice? Why, their dentist and hygienist, of course. It's important for dental practices to up their game in the area of home care. Patients appreciate it.
This holds true for your patients, whether or not they’re asking for your guidance about home care. If you look at it this way, you’ll realize that you really owe it to patients to give them sound advice, based on what you know about the state of their oral health and your knowledge of the most effective home care products and techniques.
Make home care education a part of every appointment
You know that personal habits, including how patients take care of their teeth and gums, have a tremendous bearing on their oral health. You can strengthen the practice-patient relationship and add value to it by discussing the effects of poor oral hygiene, explaining what they need to do better, exactly how to do it, and with what products.
Some dentists initially think they’re being pushy or trying to “sell” to patients when they promote good home care in this way. In fact, all they’re selling is healthy teeth and gums. Even if you make power brushes or water flossers available through your practice, you can legitimately approach this as more of a service for your patients than as a profit source for you (though it does generate income).
Both dentists and hygienists should become home care educators
Some of the practices that Levin Group works with as clients prefer to make their hygienists responsible for sharing home care advice with patients. It’s a good fit for these dental professionals because they specialize in preventive care and—though a hygiene visit consists of much more than cleaning—home care is more closely related to what hygienists do.
In our experience, most hygienists can increase the educational content of their routine review of home care and can even talk about why using power brushes and flossers makes sense. If your practice gives patients a complimentary brush-paste-floss bag at the end of hygiene appointments, you can easily include a simple flyer about any power products you offer.
Even if hygienists are the primary home care advisors at your practice, you can add a great deal of credibility to their advice by reinforcing it when you see patients. As the ultimate oral health authority for your patients, you’ll be doing them a favor by stressing the importance of the care they perform at home between visits.
Patients regard their dentists and hygienists as experts they can trust when it comes to caring for their teeth and gums. Add value to the relationship by providing the advice they need, and often expect.
This article first appeared in DE's Expert Tips & Tricks. To see past issues or to subscribe, visit dentistryiq.com/newsletter. For more Practice Management articles, visit dentistryiq.com/practice-management.
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