Announcing the Hygiene Check: Part II of Are You Unknowingly Allowing Technology to Kill your Dental Business?

In a continuation on from this interesting theme of blogs, in this blog today I’d like to discuss the best way for a dentist to be alerted to being required in the hygienist’s room.

I’ve seen in some dental offices where the dental software is used to alert the doctor that the hygienist is ready.

I like the idea of this process being discrete, but I also like the idea of announcing that the doctor is needed in the hygiene room being used as a “positive” for the dental office image.


With the technology, as mentioned in a previous blog  with the arrival of the next patient, the announcement in the doctor’s treatment room can also be a *clanger* if not structured correctly.

Similarly, having the DA alert the doc that he is needed to do a “hygiene check” is of little value to the practice and will be seen by the patient being treated in the chair as an unnecessary and unwanted interruption and delay in the valuable appointment time that that patient is paying for.

Likewise, having someone else in the office enter the doctor’s treatment room and say something along the lines that the doc is “needed to do a hygiene check” is also inappropriate and somewhat unprofessional.

It raises a great question, too, and that is, when is the best time for the dentist to do the examination in the hygiene room?

Is it better for the dentist to do the examination when the dentist has time, whether the hygienist has competed her cleaning or not?

Should the dentist do an examination before the hygienist begins her cleaning treatment?

Or should the dentist only do the examination after the hygienist has completed the cleaning?

Should the hygienist do an examination and recording for the dentist prior to the dentist arriving into the hygiene room? This is also another pertinent question for a later date as well….

Many many and when is the best time or way for the dentist to be summoned, called, or needed in the hygiene room, for an examination?

At Active Dental, we worked out what we believed to be the best way for the dentist to be notified of his being required in the hygiene room.

The way we worked it, and worded the notification, only enamored our hygiene department in the eyes of the patients being treated by the doctor at the time.

Here’s what we developed:

Firstly, we decided that the best time for the dentist to do the examination in the hygiene room was after the hygienist had completed all necessary hygiene treatment. The hygienist had also assembled and taken all necessary and due radiographs, and any diagnostic photos of defective restorative dentistry had been taken and were displayed on large LCD, LED, or plasma monitors for the dentist and the patient to view. The hygienist had also recorded defects, be they decay, or failures, that she felt the dentist needed to examine and be aware of.

We decided that the best time for the dentist to be summoned to the hygiene room was at the 40-minute mark of the one-hour hygiene appointment. This time worked best for both hygienist as well as for the doc. The Doctor’s appointment book was then structured accordingly so that he was able to leave a treated patient, if needed, at this time.

This meant that a little thought then had to go in to the Dentist’s appointment book template. For example, it meant that the doc was never to be doing endo, or anything under rubber dam, during the second half of every hour. Nor was he engrossed in deep consultation appointments with new patients or pain patients/TMJ appointments during these times.

Similarly, the doctor’s 15 minute appointments are scheduled on the first 30 minutes of each hour, never in the second half of each hour.

Nor are strategic quick “double books” placed in the doctor’s book on the second half of any hour…

But I digress…

So as regular as clockwork, the hygienist would require the dentist to perform an examination at the 40-minute mark on every hour, [unless the hygienist felt that the patient was going to require a longer length of time for their cleaning…she would alert the dentist early that he would NOT be required, as well]

This is how the doc would be notified.

We decided that the best way for the dentist to be alerted to his summoning was for the hygienist to come into the doctor’s treatment room and get the dentist herself.

The entry of the hygienist to the treatment room, when done correctly, acts as an advertisement for the hygiene department, and also acts as an advertisement for the wonderful personality of the hygienist. It allows the dentist to excuse himself from the treated patient and “introduce” the hygienist’s service, as he leaves the treatment room for a few minutes….if the dentist’s patient is known to the hygienist it also allows opportunity for the hygienist to “acknowledge” the doctor’s patient….in all cases the personable arrival of the hygienist is a positive interruption for the practice…with a positive result.

This is because it also allows us, as mentioned in previous blogs, to expose and show off our air of kindness atmosphere and culture, in the way we herald and announce this interruption to the doc.

Here’s what the hygienist says and does….

Firstly, the hygienist enters the dentist’s treatment room. She knows where to stand, so that her presence is known, and then she starts speaking. She stands just to the right side of the dentist. She has paperwork, including paper notes, that she can show the dentist if need be, without him having to turn or crane.

Her script, when she speaks, is polite and friendly, but more importantly it is purposeful. She has a specific message to inform the doctor, as well as a subliminal message for the patient being treated.

She says, “Excuse me Dr Moffet”. I say, “good morning/ good afternoon/ hello, Stacey” followed by a pause.

Stacey then says, “I have Mrs. Joan Brown in today [pause].” Then either, “She’s a new patient to the practice” or “she’s in for her regular six-month/three-month hygiene visit”.

This tells the patient being treated that the practice welcomes new patients, or that the practice encourages regular hygiene visits. Again, as mentioned in previous blogs, we are not too concerned with identifying patients as it gives patients a name, and identity, rather than not. The advantages of identifying far outweigh the risk of privacy breaches…just saying.

Stacey then says, depending, whether Mrs. Brown has anything to be really investigated or not….she will usually say “and her teeth and gums are wonderful”, or a quick “everything looks fabulous” or a “there a few areas I need you to look at…”

Stacey may even *advertise* some of our services….”she’s interested in Invisalign/ some porcelain veneers…” or “there are a couple of teeth with large old restorations that I think may require porcelain crowns….”, again planting some seeds or confirming some treatment options that the patient with the dentist may be having, or may be considering.

The dentist then usually replies indicating when and whether he will be down to the hygiene room, and when he does go, there is always a pleasant and friendly apology to the patient being treated.

If he is not able to excuse himself immediately, there is opportunity for the doc to inform the patient being treated anything from, “that’s Stacey our hygienist, you’ll be seeing her soon, she is so gentle…” to “oh Mrs. Brown, she has been coming here every six moths for must be about twenty years now….”

I can’t emphasise enough that over all of this is laid an atmosphere of pleasantry, respect for all, and clear and concise communication, so that the interruption to the patient being treated is felt as minimally as possible.

It takes time and practice to develop these sorts of protocols and procedures that subliminally and indirectly send messages of goodwill to your patients. But the time taken is worth it. It builds credibility and notoriety that your dental office cares, and is different.

This is just one of the many straight forward protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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