Dentistry is rapidly segmenting into two distinct professions.
One will be what most patients think of as traditional dentistry. The tooth fixer and cleaner. The technician. These dental offices will focus on bits and pieces of treatment to get full insurance dollars from each patient each year. The staff will likely also be fragmented by tasks.
The other profession will be the doctor of the oral-health system. The valued family advisor on health and wellness. As Pankey-trained dental offices, we are well positioned to become the relationship-based advocates for our patients’ health.
Training Your Team to Advocate for Patient Health
How about your team? Have you put in the time to train and behaviorally change your most valued support?
A most important person in that team approach is the hygienist. Are they having conversations about total health? Social conversations don’t lead to behavior change that improves the health awareness of our valued patients.
Again, as Pankey-trained dentists, our hygienists can have a huge impact on our patients’ perception of our unique thoroughness. Occlusal awareness should be part of hygiene discovery about their health.
Bringing Up Occlusion in the Hygiene Appointment
This can involve simple questions: What have you been noticing about your bite? Chewing? Jaw? Headaches? “What have you been noticing about [fill in the blank]…?” can begin a discussion.
Depending on the conversation, one can follow with: “We are noticing that, as people live longer (keep their teeth longer), we see things slowly develop that can lead to big concerns. In our office, our purpose is unique – we want you to be able to enjoy eating all the foods you love the remainder of your life. I will look at potentially traumatic bite forces for you.”
How do you introduce occlusion in your hygiene exams? Let us know in the comments!