During an occlusion-focused hygiene exam, there are certain things the hygienist should pinpoint. This will help them develop a deeper relationship with the patient as well.
A Hygiene + Occlusion Exam
What the hygienist should look for:
1. “Can you eat/drink cold things comfortably?”
2. Subtle wear facets – those shiny spots on the edges of teeth.
3. Chipping of the edges of teeth. Can you get the patient to line up an incisal “chip” with a sharp edge of a lower front tooth?
4. Fremitis – that subtle shimmying of an upper front tooth when you gently place your fingernail on the facial of a maxillary incisor and ask the patient to grind side-to-side and front-to-back.
5. NCCL – could that be from clenching or orthodontic expansion? Both/and?
6. Persistent marginal inflammation that could be a sign of clenching (or an imbalanced bite).
The hygienist’s role is to raise patient awareness – to “discover” changes that can be brought to the doctor’s attention for long-term protection of the patient’s teeth.
The doctor’s arrival for an exam is the time that real skill and teamwork begins. The hygienist takes the lead and informs the doctor what they (hygienist and patient together) have been discovering/discussing.
Many times, the most significant questions come when I am behind and feeling rushed. Our goal, practiced for years, is for me to get in and out of the hygiene room in under 5 minutes. Therefore, our total goal together is to encourage the patient to schedule another appointment for a more thorough evaluation of any changes/discoveries.
The hygienist then supports and reassures the patient about the need for a more thorough understanding to protect their teeth and eating for a lifetime. They confirm the uniqueness of a full understanding of teeth, harmonizing bite forces, and oral-systemic health and well-being.
“This is what sets our office apart. Together we strive for the best in your total oral health prevention.”
A well-thought-out and choreographed hygiene appointment can truly establish you in the relationship-based sector of dental care.