The dental hygienist has an integral role in the dental team. The hygienist does much more than just clean the teeth. Yes, this is the primary task of the dental hygienist, and yes, it is important to have your teeth cleaned by a trained professional on a regular basis. However, for a lot of patients, the dental hygienist is the face of the practice. Many patients will have more interaction with the hygienist than any other member of the dental team.
In our office, the hygienist will typically spend 45 minutes to an hour with her patients. In that period of time, she will review and update the patient’s medical history, take appropriate X-rays, scale and polish the teeth, check for periodontal pockets, and give a fluoride treatment. While completing these tasks, the hygienist will review any problematic areas with the patient and teach them how they can better take care of their teeth. Obviously, this is an extremely important aspect of the appointment because the goal of dental treatment is not only to cure the disease, but to educate the patient so that he or she can prevent these problems from arising in the future. This is another area where I feel our practice separates itself from many others. Our hygienist, Pam, is an excellent communicator, educator, and motivator. She was a member of the dental team before I came aboard. The experience that she draws upon while treating patients is invaluable. Pam has a great rapport with her patients, being able to put even the most anxious ones at ease. She always has a patient’s best interest at heart. Pam will take her time with you, make you feel comfortable, and treat you with the utmost respect while doing an excellent job.
Many offices will schedule hygiene patients every 30 to 45 minutes. Some dental practices will even schedule a hygiene patient every 20 minutes! At our office, we give the hygienist an hour of time to spend with her adult patients and thirty minutes with children.
Our approach to the hygiene exam is also different here at Greenwood Dental. Most offices will only allot about five minutes for the dentist to spend checking a hygiene patient. We typically schedule fifteen minutes for me to conduct an examination after a cleaning. This allows me to take my time with you, pay attention to detail, and give you the attention that you deserve to have.
When putting together our hygiene program, I kept asking myself one question, “How would I want to be treated if I were the patient?” The answer to that question really sets the tone for how the entire staff at our office delivers quality dental care to our patients.