08.25.06 - Issue # 233 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

The Closer


Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Many of you have watched the show, “The Closer”. For those of you that have not watched the show, “The Closer” is the person who continuously gets the suspect to confess their guilt.

In dentistry, the suspect would be considered the patients we see, while their guilt would be accepting their disease and getting the treatment needed in order to make their overall oral health better. Now, who is, “The Closer”, in your office? Meaning who sells the dentistry that is prescribed to the patients in order to get their mouths healthier.

Hopefully, the answer to this question is technically the entire team. Yes, hygienist-selling dentistry is a part of your job description, whether you are selling the periodontal treatment plan or selling the full mouth reconstruction the doctor just diagnosed.

Some Hygienists say or think to themselves, “If it is the dentist’s work, shouldn’t he/she be the one to convince the patient of the treatment needed to be done?” The answer to this is, not necessarily. Yes, it is best if the dentist goes over the recommended treatment with the patient and takes the time to answer the patient’s questions, but everybody on the team has some form of responsibility when it comes to “Closing the Case Presentation”.

This brings us to two comments. One is teamwork and the other is responsibility to the patient. When it comes to teamwork, the entire team needs to be on the same page when it comes to the office’s dental philosophy and perceptions. Below are some ways to establish the philosophy for your team:

  • Have a vision statement
  • Have a mission statement
  • Have a written plan of action
  • Set standards
  • Provide training
  • Provide support
  • Accountability for the entire staff
  • Establish treatment protocols
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Create scripts

Over the years, many dental professionals have had a problem with the term, “selling dentistry”. Well, “selling dentistry” and “patient education” are easily intermingled when it comes to patient care. How can we not “sell dentistry” if we are “educating our patients” about their needs in order to create a healthier oral environment?  Therefore, as long as we as Hygienists are continuously educating our patients on their needs we are a part of the closing team.

In the Code of Ethic for Dental Hygienists, it even states, “We acknowledge the following responsibilities to clients…

  • Serve as an advocate for the welfare of clients
  • Provide clients with the information necessary to make informed decisions about their oral health encourage their full participation in treatment decisions and goals.
  • Educate clients about high-quality oral healthcare.

Being “the closer” is having the patient accept treatment and complete the work.

The Financial Coordinator should have already gone over the financials with the patient. However, as a part of a team it is recommended that the hygienist be aware of the financial protocol in their office.

Here is another question for you. Who would you say has the most patient rapport with returning patients? Who sees the patient more regularly than anybody else in the office? The answer to both of these questions is, the Hygienist. This may or may not be true when it comes to new patients, depending on your interceptive periodontal therapy program protocol in your office. However, when it comes to returning patients the Hygienist tends to spend the most time with the patient and is able to build patient rapport. This is very important when it comes to case acceptance. 

The professional relationship between the Hygienist and the patient is a partnership in which the professional is responsible to assist the patient in identifying their needs and mutually setting goals to meet those needs. It is built on self-reliance. Professional closeness includes trust, confidentiality, honesty, and healthy boundaries. The healthcare professional supports the patient in the pursuit of health by educating the patient so they can identify their needs and make well informed decisions.

Remember, closing/educating is a team effort and the patient should not feel like they just walked off of a used car lot. However, the patient should feel well informed and comfortable with the entire staff by the time they walk away from the dental office. We want our patients to come to us for a lifetime, not just one time. They should feel like they are a part of your dental family/team.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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McKenzie Management
A Division of the McKenzie Company, Inc.
3252 Holiday Court Suite 110
La Jolla, CA 92037
Email info@mckenziemgmt.com
1.877.777.6151
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