Individualizing the Hygiene Exam

The hygiene exam can be a dreaded topic in the dental practice, especially if you’ve been dodging the issue for a while. Depending on your state, there may be specific rules or regulations about how the hygiene exam should be conducted. After meeting these rules though, it’s up to you to determine what style of hygiene exam best suits your goals.

Hygiene exams can complicate your relationship with hygienists if you don’t have an open dialogue about why you conduct them the way you do. There isn’t one right or wrong way to do things. That’s what makes it such a challenge for clinicians.

Conducting a More Effective Hygiene Exam

Commitment to your purpose should help you decide on how you want a hygiene exam to go. Most importantly, don’t do something you dislike simply because you think it’s the only option. Your obligation is to meet your patients’ needs while fulfilling your ethical or moral responsibility.

Patient expectations are where things get tricky. It doesn’t necessarily matter if your style is to put most of the responsibility in your hygienist’s hands or if you prefer to enact a thorough exam yourself. What does matter is that your patient knows what to expect and that you meet that expectation.

If you want to meet with patients for an in-depth exam, then schedule that time. If your hygienist will handle the majority of the exam, give them the tools and the training they need to feel confident. By the same token, if you want to check in on patients, but don’t want to do more than visit, then don’t even put on your gloves.

In the end, you can choose a combination of hygiene exam processes. Just keep your patients and your team informed.

How do you conduct hygiene exams in your practice and why? We’d love to hear from you!

Mary Osborne RDH

Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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