Creating World Class Dental Hygiene Service In Your Dental Practice. Part V.

Today I’m going to review the handover process that occurs in the hygiene room following the dentist’s examination for the dental hygiene patient who visits your dental office for their regular hygiene appointment.

This article is Part V of a weekly series of articles that explains the hygiene process that I used IN DETAIL to transform the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient away from being considered to be “it’s only a clean”.

This regularly scheduled visit must ALWAYS  be an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.

Four weeks ago I discussed the important role that a dental hygienist plays in the creation of an EXPERIENCE for their patient so that the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient is not simply “just a cleaning”.

In that article I wrote about the important role that the dental hygienist plays at the beginning of every patient’s hygiene appointment. I discussed the important role of Emily the hygienist in creating a perfect platform at the start of the patient’s hygiene appointment, truly “setting the stage” for the remainder of the visit to be a World Class Experience.

Then three weeks ago I wrote about the level of trust that gets established between the hygienist and the patient during the first forty minutes of the hygiene appointment, and how with that, the time taken by the dentist to do the examination and explain treatment inside the hygiene room is significantly less than when the hygienist takes no part in any uncovering and discovery of areas of concern prior to the arrival of the dentist.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the best way for the dentist to be alerted about the hygiene exam, and how to turn that notification into a systematic, structured and discrete internal advertisement for your dental practice and your world class customer service systems.

Last week I took a look in detail at the examination process for the dental hygiene patient who visits your dental office for their regular hygiene appointment, transforming that process into an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.

The Dental Hygiene Room Handover

Following the completion of the dental examination, the dentist must now HAND OVER  the hygiene patient back to the dental hygienist and then depart from the hygiene room and return to his restorative patient.

This process needs to be systematized and choreographed correctly to have maximum positive effect on the hygiene patient so that they move forward with their next visit with certainty.

This is regardless of whether that next visit is for restorative dentistry or for another hygiene visit.

The purpose of the handover is to create a result of clarity for the patient as to what their next step must be.

A poor handover creates confusion and uncertainty within the mind of the patient.

A perfect handover has the patient enthused and excited about their next visit.

Here’s what needs to happen:

At the completion of examination the Dentist initiates the return of the dental chair to the vertical and he rises to come and stand in front of the Patient as they re-orientate themselves after having been reclined.

It’s at this point that the Doctor then clearly hands the patient back over to the Dental Hygienist in readiness for the patient’s transfer from the Hygiene Room to the Front Office.

It is important and imperative that at this stage the Dentist informs the patient, and the Dental Hygienist, the following key pieces of information.

It is also imperative that both the patient and the Dental Hygienist truly grasp and understand fully the Dentist’s clear and thorough instructions and explanations.

Here are the five things that the Dentist must tell the patient when he hands over the patient to the Dental Hygienist at the completion of their dental hygiene examination. 

  1. Exactly what the dentist did today.The dentist must let the patient know that the examination is now complete.
  2. The Big Picture.The Dentist needs to let the patient know the result of the examination. Not so much a blow by blow, tooth by tooth, and surface by surface description of what is wrong and what needs to be done. I always found that ball park numbers were appropriate at this time.
  3. Exactly what treatment the Patient will be having at their next visit to the Dental Office.It is the dentist’s responsibility to let the patient and the hygienist know exactly what treatment  the patient
     will be having at their next visit to the dental office.

  4. The time frame or urgency of the remaining treatment required.It is the Dentist’s duty to inform the Patient when exactly he next wants to see the patient.The Dentist’s role here is to create urgency for the treatment as opposed to creating a *Lack of Urgency* in the Patient’s mind. Creating urgency assists the Dental Hygienist and the Front Office team members in securing the next appointment for the Patient.
  5. Exactly what will happen if the next treatment is not carried out.The Dentist must inform the patient of the consequences if treatment is not carried out. The patient must understand that taking action is imperative for them.

Along with this, the Dentist must ensure that both the patient and the Dental Hygienist have a clear understanding of exactly what he has just said.

The Dentist needs to also:

  1. Look the patient in the eye, and thank them sincerely for their time.
  2. Compliment the patient on being such a great patient for you today.Everybody loves recognition.
  3. Farewell the patient with sincere wishes of best wishes and good health.
  4. Recognise or re-recognise any significant event coming up for the patient that will occur before their next visit.This may be something that the patient has discussed with the Dentist already. Or it may be some information the patient has shared with the hygienist or with another team member that has been acquired by the Dentist via Secret Service Systems [information passed to the Dentist with the specific purpose of creating a *WOW* factor for the patient].
  5. Look to create any Above and Beyond Experiences for the patient.If the patient has mentioned something personal, the Dentist may have an opportunity to provide an article or small gift that may be appropriate in that situation.

These last five points are extremely important and crucial in differentiating your dentist and your Dental Office as being truly different from every other Dental Practice around because no other Office around is taking the time to treat every patient as a friend, or as a person and not just as a number or an item on a conveyor belt.

Because most dentists don’t do this!

Most dental offices have the dentist come in to do the examination when it suits the dentist, and subsequently there is no handover.

I’ve even seen dental offices where the hygienist has moved on to their next patient and the dentist walks in to do the examination cold, on a lukewarm patient.

[What could possibly go wrong there?]

When you systematise and choreograph the hygiene visit in the way I have outlined, you will see a dramatic increase in the number of patients booking AND KEEPING their next appointments.

It’s all about creating clarity for the patient.


Patients who are clear on what needs to be done will make and keep appointments.

patients who are unclear will make fewer appointments and cancel them more often.

Next week we will close off this series of articles when I discuss the Ultimate Post-Appointment Process for the departing hygiene patient and how it acts to reinforce the hygiene visit as a truly World Class Customer Service Experience.


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