The Heart of the Practice
Create loyalty for life when you connect with the heart of the practice – hygienists
Kandra Sellers, RDH, BA
What motivates me as a hygienist? Taking care of people. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing my patients’ oral and systemic health has improved because of the treatment or education I have provided.
Just recently I was thinking about how hygienists hear or learn about new technology that is designed to help them, and the dealer representative immediately came to mind. I have actually worked as a dealer representative during my career, so I have a unique perspective and understand the similarities between what a hygienist does and what a dealer representative experiences every day. I’m not talking about knowing prices or sales reports; I’m talking about making a connection with people who probably have other things on their minds or who are dealing with work pressures you may not understand at the time. After all, they look to you to be the expert and their trusted adviser.
On the surface, being a dealer representative may sound easy to some. You walk through the door to the open arms of a staff eager to purchase everything you have, right? I have walked in your shoes, so I understand how difficult it can be to get a potential customer to say “yes.” This is true for hygienists as well. How do we show the true value to that person – the patient –without really understanding what makes them tick? For you, as the dealer representative, it’s about understanding how a hygienist thinks and makes decisions. So, let me help you with that one: Hygienists, like most people, don’t make decisions based on logic; they make decisions for emotional reasons and then justify them with logic.
On average, only 30 percent of the population regularly visits the dentist. That means two out of every three people are not receiving preventative care every six months as is recommended. That is a scary statistic! As a hygienist, that is an emotional statistic because most of us are in this profession because we want to help people. We take care of people and want to improve their health, so we are always thinking about how we can do that more effectively. Anything that can make this process easier is of tremendous value to a hygienist. It is always my goal to make every dental visit a great experience for both my patient and myself. Some of the most important tools I have in my tool box, other than my education, are my instruments. They are like an extension of my arm and have to feel and perform just right because this is the “connection” to my patient. Scalers are a very personal choice and, because I use them on every single patient, they are not something I will compromise on when it comes to quality. I will only use reputable brands with proven advantages that will give me the confidence to perform at my highest professional level.
So, which premium scalers meet my expectations? In all my years of practicing, I’ve found that Hu-Friedy EverEdge® scalers are sharp and stay sharper longer than anything else on the market. The fact that they are sharp and stay sharp helps me deliver the best clinical outcomes to my patients, which is what matters most to me. And, while sharpening is a time-consuming task, with an EverEdge scaler, I am empowered with a choice. Sure, I can choose to open a new scaler package when the instrument gets dull, but I can also choose to sharpen it back to top working condition. Either way, I’m using a sharp scaler, and sharper is better because it allows removal of calculus with less lateral pressure, less getting “stuck” and less scraping noise, which are all important factors in patient comfort. Many patients experience jaw pain due to TMD so it is uncomfortable for their mouth to be open for so long, which is one reason they don’t come in regularly. With dull instruments, excessive force has to be placed on the patient’s jaw, creating pain and typically increasing the time of the appointment. This will not create a positive connection or experience for the patient.
EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE
We know that to be clinically efficient and effective at removing calculus our instruments need to have a sharp cutting edge. Dull instruments mean more time and harder work for the hygienist, which cause patients more discomfort. And, when we use dull instruments, all we are accomplishing is burnishing calculus on the tooth surface. This leads to poor clinical results and, potentially, periodontal infection. This goes against everything we are striving for to achieve excellent overall health. Our goal is to engage our patients in education, discuss products that improve oral health, or enroll them in periodontal therapy and operative treatment they need. No patient wants to think about this after an uncomfortable hygiene visit. Through my experience, I’ve learned that other advantages to using sharp instruments include less opportunity for the instrument to slip and less chance for tissue trauma.
Another little known fact that most hygienists do not talk about is the physical hardship involved. After practicing clinical hygiene for as long as I have, there are many physical restrictions that limit the amount of time I can sit chair side with patients. We have all paid the price for poor ergonomics. Sadly, practices are still using old, worn out instruments. We know there is better technology and that price should not be a limiting factor when choosing what is needed to ensure the best clinical outcomes. Today we have instruments like EverEdge, which is more ergonomic, sharper and, most importantly, stays sharper longer, which keeps both hygienist and patient comfortable. The instrument design and functionality of EverEdge allows today’s graduating hygienists to offer improved levels of comfort and care to their patients, and stay in this rewarding profession longer. When we provide an experience and care above all else, the practice organically grows.
As someone who has walked in your shoes as a dealer representative and is now a practicing hygienist, here’s my advice to you: You will add value when you connect to the heart of the practice, the dental hygienist. You don’t have to be the expert on every product, but you do need to know how the products help hygienists provide a great experience for their patients. If you do this, you’ll have loyal customers for life. Be part of the solution by providing extraordinary products and instrument education so that hygienists can grow professionally and provide exceptional oral and systemic health care to their patients!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kandra Sellers, RDH, BA is an executive coach for both Hygiene Mastery and Fortune Management, which can support all aspects of the dental practice. Dentists seeking a coach to help them build their business, master their leadership, or improve their bottom line rave about Kandra’s ability to move people towards excellence on every level. She is a highly sought out coach, speaker, and author.