How to Support Your New Hygienists

November 28, 2018 Mary Osborne RDH

Hygienists make up a huge component of a dental practice’s atmosphere and productivity. You should be devoting plenty of time to understanding their motivations as well as your own. Even better, you should actively consider how best to support them.

Supporting New Hygienists

One obvious instance of support a dentist can provide occurs with the dental hygienist who is fresh out of school. Hiring someone new to the field confers pros and cons. The biggest upside is that you can mold them to your preferences. But in that upside lies a heavy burden: You must be willing to guide their learning and influence their patient care.

A hygienist who is very new to either your practice or dentistry itself needs plenty of time to become oriented. You can support them by seeing all of their patients for a while and completing an extremely thorough exam. This will ensure both the hygienist and patient get the most out of the experience.

Take steps like:

  1. Ensure all deposits that can be removed are removed.
  2. Observe the gingiva and determine if prophylaxis has caused as little trauma as possible.
  3. Measure pocket depths to calibrate the hygienists readings to yours.
  4. Look closely for decay and provide an opportunity for the hygienist to feel the signs of disease that you do.
  5. Check for wear or breakdown and teach both patient and hygienist how to see it.
  6. Carry out an oral cancer exam and clarify what is cause for concern.
  7. Point out what draws your attention on an x-ray.
  8. Finally, make any diagnostics you offer into a learning experience for both the patient and the hygienist.

Once you feel comfortable that your hygienist is appropriately skilled, you must open lines of communication surrounding who handles what responsibilities.

How do you bring new hygienists into your practice culture? Please let me know! 

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Pankey Scholar 14B

DATE: August 15 2024 @ 6:00 pm - August 17 2024 @ 3:00 pm

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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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Perio Screening vs Assessment

November 7, 2018 Pankey Gram

Time is a major priority in the thriving dental practice. Balancing the need for comprehensive care with the efficiency necessary to get everything done in a day is a serious challenge. When it comes to periodontal assessments, the numbers today shockingly still show that a majority of offices are not routinely completing a perio exam.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

Implement a Quick Perio Screening

Consider making your life a lot easier while still improving patient care by offering periodontal screenings. An efficient screening that divides the mouth into scored sextants shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

Your hygienists will appreciate the opportunity to show off their probing skills. They will be able to help patients recognize the signs of gingivitis and periodontal inflammation that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. If the patient scores high enough, then that will necessitate a full-mouth periodontal exam that includes full mouth probing furcation scoring and measuring muco-gingival attachment loss and recession.

This simple addition can lead to more dentistry in your practice and therefore higher production. That’s a boon for both patients and dentists, as the former improves their health and the latter is able to offer more complex treatment.

Periodontal disease is a sneaky, pervasive issue that can be detrimental to a patient’s entire health. Systemic diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes have been associated with periodontitis. Gingivitis, while reversible, can still be exceedingly unpleasant and eventually lead to worsening periodontal health.

The way your hygienist educates patients about periodontal disease contributes to how patients understand the screening’s purpose. The hygienist must make it clear that you are checking for gingivitis and periodontitis because they can lead to pain and tooth loss. This would require much more invasive care in the long run.

Get our take on dental esthetics by reading this awesome Pankey blog here. Do you carry out perio screenings in your practice? We’re dying to know more, don’t be a stranger!

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E1: Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning

DATE: January 23 2025 @ 8:00 am - January 26 2025 @ 2:30 pm

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CE HOURS: 39

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Occlusion Makes a Difference for Patients With Periodontitis

May 21, 2018 Pankey Gram

When a patient has periodontitis, they suffer from a destructive inflammatory infection that significantly impacts their oral health and damages their periodontal structures. Understanding how occlusion impacts or worsens this damage is key to helping these patients prevent unnecessary trauma.

Periodontitis and Occlusal Trauma

Even before the 1960s, there was research linking occlusal trauma and progression of periodontal disease. More recent research has found that this link isn’t as strong as once thought. Still, a relationship has been identified between the extent of damage and whether the patient has an occlusal interference.

One crucial aspect of periodontitis is that it is unique to every patient. This means we have to be careful not to apply a blanket approach to all patients or rely too heavily on past data that may not help us treat our current patient. Their individual susceptibility to periodontitis must be assessed based on their distinct risk factors.

The Relationship Between Occlusion and The Periodontium

For each tooth, occlusal experience matters and may be one of the reasons that loss of attachment worsens. A 2001 study by Harrel and Nunn found that there was a correlation between amount of periodontal damage and existence of occlusal interference. Perhaps more interesting, they also found that changing the occlusion had a positive impact on the periodontal issue.

Even in light of this research, the relationship between occlusion and periodontium is hotly contested. Regardless of one’s opinion on this matter, there’s no denying that the periodontium is effected by occlusal force. When there is no occlusal loading, there may be over-eruption or drifting of the tooth. On the other hand, when the force is appropriate, the periodontium is healthy and stable.

We must remember that there is a spectrum of susceptibility to periodontitis. For those who are very susceptible and also have teeth experiencing occlusal trauma, the latter only serves to worsen the situation.

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Why Calibrating Perio Probing Matters

May 18, 2018 Sheri Kay RDH

Amidst all the details that must be managed day in and day out at a dental practice, I’d like to bring to light something I find super important that is often neglected. Let me begin by asking a question: When is the last time you took a good look at your perio probes? I mean a really good look!

My guess is you will find different shapes, sizes, colors, materials, ages, and markings. Maybe this doesn’t seem like the worst tragedy in the grand scope of the world, and yet, having even two different probes in the office can set the stage for lack of continuity in your patient diagnoses. 

Why Perio Probes Matter

It does seem like there are as many choices in probes these days as there are stars in the sky, so how can you make the best decision when it comes down to buying?

Although I do recognize the need and desire to have options, at the end of the day I encourage you to consider which probe provides the LEAST probable chance of creating error. Although I have used (and observe people using) a huge variety of probes, my favorite by far is the UNC-15. Due to markings at every mm up to 15, there is virtually no guesswork in capturing and documenting data with a high level of accuracy.

As you make the decision of exactly which probe you will use exclusively in your practice, please also consider calibrating all dentists and hygienists on an ongoing basis. It is typically easy to notice that probing techniques will vary from person to person. Watching and learning from each other with the ultimate goal of having everyone in agreement about how you will probe is invaluable.

Lastly, remember that an accurate periodontal diagnosis can only be made when a comprehensive periodontal assessment is completed and documented. Your probe is designed to be used for measuring pocket depths, recession, bleeding, pus, and attached gingiva. Oh, and don’t forget to check for mobility and furcations while you’re at it.

Here’s to a future of more accurate and calibrated perio probing in your office!

Related Course

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DATE: August 22 2024 @ 8:00 am - August 25 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 39

Dentist Tuition: $ 6500

Single Occupancy Room with Ensuite Bath (Per Night): $ 290

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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Sheri Kay RDH

Sheri Kay started her career in dentistry as a dental assistant for an “under one roof” practice in 1980. The years quickly flew by as Sheri worked her way from one position to the next learning everything possible about the different opportunities and roles available in an office. As much as she loved dentistry … something was always missing. In 1994, after Sheri graduated from hygiene school, her entire world changed when she was introduced to the Pankey Philosophy of Care. What came next for Sheri was an intense desire to help other dental professionals learn how they could positively influence the health and profitability of their own practices. By 2012, Sheri was working full time as a Dental Practice Coach and has since worked with over 300 practices across the country. Owning SKY Dental Practice Dental Coaching is more of a lifestyle than a job, as Sheri thrives on the strong relationships that she develops with her clients. She enjoys speaking at state meetings, facilitating with Study Clubs and of course, coaching with her practices.

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