The Comprehensive Hygiene Appointment
Wouldn’t it be great if everything we recommend to a patient could be done without hesitation, and money was never an issue? Unfortunately, that is not the way it always happens. As hygienists and doctors, we aren’t educated in college about dealing with insurance and working around patients who have the attitude that: “If the insurance doesn’t pay for it, I don’t want to have it done.”
There is no magic wand to make this issue go away. We do not want to treatment plan according to insurance, but we do want to maximize our patient’s insurance for them so they will be able to use the benefit their employer has chosen to provide them with. We have many tools in our bag of technology and knowledge that will help when it comes to educating our patients.
Knowing ways to maximize patient insurance is one way to keep patients happier. No one can know all the ins-and-outs of all the insurance plans that are out there. But the more the entire staff is educated about insurance, the better equipped they will be to educate patients about why insurance is not necessarily the “golden key” to providing optimal oral health.
There are many options for people to use these days - insurance is just one of them. Hopefully your office is offering CareCredit to help relieve some of the financial burden that patients may perceive regarding the cost of dental care. Many employers also offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to their employees. You may be surprised at how many people have this option, but do not really understand how it is utilized. Don’t assume that your staff understands it either. FSA is a great way to help make implants more affordable to anybody - particularly if the patient is looking at having the surgical portion of the implant done at the end of the year, and then completing the restorative portion of the implant at the beginning of the next year.
One of the least costly procedures to both the office and the patient is full mouth probing, done out loud so the patient can both hear it and co-diagnose their need for periodontal treatment. Whether this is done utilizing another staff member or a voice-activated system is up to the doctor. However, actually doing a full mouth, six-point probing on patients is priceless when it comes to patient acceptance of periodontal disease.
Taking the time to educate the patient about probing, what the numbers indicate, and how to determine what the recommended treatment is also needs to be done. This is not a portion of the appointment that should be rushed. Time should be allowed for the patient to ask questions about what probing is, even if you have already explained it to them. Many times they do not truly listen until after the information has been collected. Once the patient has helped co-diagnose their periodontal disease they will be more concerned about what is going on. It is also recommended to allow enough time to explain what root planing is and why it is indicated in their particular case, whether you are recommending it to a patient of record for the first time or to a new patient.
Another great tool in our bag of tricks is the intraoral camera. Some of you may have one that for whatever reason is not being used, and you may want to consider moving the camera into the hygiene operatory to make it more accessible to the hygienist. If you have not bought an intraoral camera yet and are thinking about buying one specifically for the hygienist, it’s important to get one that is easy to use. Once you have narrowed your choices down to two or three cameras, you may want to allow the hygienist an opportunity to try the cameras and have some input to which one works best in their hands. Where the camera is actually kept in the office will make a difference in how often it is used. If the hygienist is expected to use the camera according to the protocol, then keep the camera in the hygienist room.
The hygienist will want to do a visual exam of the mouth with the intraoral camera.
It’s important to avoid overloading the hygiene appointment with too many procedures, as this can leave no time to provide a thorough prophylaxis or periodontal maintenance. Your practice will want to determine what protocol works best.These are only a few of the tools we utilize in dentistry to help provide a more comprehensive hygiene appointment. They are not expensive, and they are priceless when implemented.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151Forward this article to a friend
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