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My Most Teachable Moment as a Dental Hygienist

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What I now know is that the patient they are working with is just as important as the hygiene exam and the next hygiene patient in the reception area waiting for their appointment.

My assistant is often hurrying me along to get into the next room and I have not finished yet. It is the same for the dentist. He is treating that patient and focusing on what needs to be done. Hopefully, as soon as the dentist can, he will take a break and do the hygiene exam. If the dentist has not finished the procedure they were doing in the restorative room, his body may be with you but his brain and focus is with the patient he is treating. That is why the transfer of information of your findings is so vital to help refocus the mind.

Pacing by the treatment door or leaning on the buzzer to get them to come to the hygiene room does nothing but cause annoyance for the clinician.

What is a hygienist to do while waiting for the exam? Well, you could visit with the patient waiting in your room. You could go out to the reception area and visit with your patient that you will see next. You could courtesy call the next patient to be seen letting them know you may be a few minutes behind. You could make some recare phone calls, sharpen an instrument, go to the restroom etc.

Working together to have the best day possible and respecting one another is key. So if it is a huge problem, put together a protocol to help solve it during a team meeting. It worked for me and it could work for you.

As a graduate of the Fones School of Dental Hygiene, Elizabeth Nies, RDH, EA, AS, practices assisted dental hygiene 4 days a week in Boise, Idaho. She has been in practice for 28 years. In addition to her clinical practice, she is a certified HygieneFusion consultant/coach and an assisted hygiene consultant. Her business, Ean Solutions, assists dental practices by implementing models of assisted hygiene and HygieneFusion to maximize patient retention, dentist production, and revenue. Liz has authored articles on implementing assisted hygiene protocols and systems and comparing improvisation and effectiveness in hygiene appointments. Past articles include 'Assisted Hygiene: Boldly Going Where So Few Are Willing To Go' (August 2007) and 'A One Woman Show' (November 2011). She is a past president of the New Jersey Dental Hygienists' Association and the Idaho Dental Hygienists' Association and has received the professional achievement award from IDHA. Liz currently serves on the advisory panel for Dentaquest in Idaho.

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