Becoming a Relationship-Based Advocate for Patient Health

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! 

Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.

One thought on “Becoming a Relationship-Based Advocate for Patient Health

  • June 28, 2018 at 1:47 am

    Through co-discovery with the help of intraoral photos.


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