2.23.07 - Issue # 259 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Are Your Hygiene Instruments Performing at
The Level You Need?

One of the many things we observe when evaluating hygiene departments are the instruments being provided for the hygienist to utilize. Having the right instruments for the procedure at hand is extremely important. This is why we find it important to look into the operatories of the hygienists in order to evaluate the tools she utilizes to provide quality of care. Some of the things we evaluate are:

What type of probe is the hygienist using? What type of probe is the doctor using?

The entire office should be using the same type of probe in order to allow for calibration throughout the office, whether they have decided to use a computer probe or a traditional probe. There are many different traditional probes to choose from such as the Williams 1, 12 (Marquis), South Dakota 12, or the Michigan 0 probe. All of these probes have different incriminations on the probe. The shape or the angulations of the tip, or the weight may be different, possibly causing one operator to measure the same pocket differently based on the probe itself. Continuity of probes throughout the entire office is important in the treatment of periodontal disease. American Eagle even has Hi-Lite Probes that are yellow or yellow and green allowing for greater visibility of depth do to distinct precise markings.

Are there enough probes to get through a scheduled day of hygiene?

It is recommended that there be at least one probe for every cassette of instruments for the adult patients who are going to be probed.

 Are the probes in good condition?

If the probes are bent, the probings will be different from those in good condition. Also, the markings on the probes should be easily readable and not faded. Some probes require different care. In order to extend the life of your Hi-Lite probes, sterilization temperatures should not exceed 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 149 degrees Celsius. The Hi-Lite probe should not be put in the ultrasonic and should have minimal exposure time with any solution. The hygienist may want to wipe the probe with an alcohol wipe and place into her cassette in order to sterilize.

Does the hygienist have an ample supply of hand scalers?

Just like the dentist, a hygienist needs to have the tools required to provide quality of care. She will have her cassettes for prophylaxis and for periodontal maintenance appointments, and she may have some single instruments packaged that she utilizes for extremely hard to reach areas such as furcation areas and deeper than usual concave areas on the root.

Are her instruments sharp? What does she use to sharpen her instruments? Are the tips in good condition or does she need new instruments?

Sharpening instruments has always been a chore, but is very important when it comes to quality of care, reducing operator fatigue, and patient comfort. We all know that implementing a sharp instrument on a tooth requires far less pressure and working strokes than a dull instrument. Using an instrument that does not have a good tip or is not sharp is like using a bur that is worn out. It just does not do the job adequately. It will require more effort and time to do the job at hand.

Does she have separate cassettes of root planing instruments?

Separate root planing cassettes are recommended, as these instruments need to be a little thicker than the instruments used during a prophylaxis. The last thing we want is to have a tip break off in the patient’s periodontal pocket. XP technology is a great way to go when looking for root planing instruments. We have found XP technology to have a sharper factory edge and maintain that sharpness longer than the traditional stainless steel instruments. The blade is also thinner on XP scalers and curettes than standard scalers and curettes. This allows the hygienist the access she wants from a thinner blade for sub-gingival scaling while knowing the integrity of the blade is present.

Quality sharp instruments will help with quality of care for your patients. When it comes to a hygiene department there is more to it than scheduling, recall, production, communication skills, and periodontal disease. Using the hest possihle well-maintained instruments during the clinical procedure can make the experience better for the hygienist and also the patient.

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

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