How-To, Advice

Simple Tips for a Smooth Hygiene Appointment

By Melia Lewis, RDH, BSDH on October, 18 2019
Simple Tips for a Smooth Hygiene Appointment
Melia Lewis, RDH, BSDH

Melia has been a dental hygienist for 10 years and loves being part of the dental field. She's originally from Alberta, Canada, but now lives and works in Utah. When she's not practicing dental hygiene or working on her website Hygiene Edge, she loves being in the Utah Mountains or being with her 5 year old Georgia.

We’ve all had tricky days in the dental office. Looking for simple tricks to help your day go a bit better and keep your schedule on track (well, at least as much as you can)? Here are a few you can try out tomorrow! 


1. Make sure your instruments are sharp

That may sound basic, but having sharp instruments makes your job as an RDH easier. You can actually remove calculus the first time, which of course helps save you time and makes the patient more comfortable. Finding time to sharpen is tricky, but scheduling yourself out for 15 minutes at the end of every day may help highlight how important sharpening is. Or, you could opt for sharpen-free instruments to save time.


2. See whether radiographs are needed before the patient comes into your op

Before heading up to the waiting area to grab your patient, open up their patient chart to see what radiographs where taken at last appointment, and if they’re due for a new set. Knowing exactly what you’re getting into before the patient is back in your op will help you mentally prepare to take a full mouth or skip radiographs all together at this appointment. Knowing beforehand could potentially prevent unnecessary radiation for your patient as well by accidently exposing the incorrect images.


3. Set up chart autonotes

Take the second to set up your autonotes to help cut down on charting. Nothing is worse than being behind on patients, and completely behind on chart notes. Having some pre-set notes already made in your dental software can help save typing time, but can easily be customized as well after some of the basic information is recorded. Some of these pre-made notes could be your perio stage and grade, simple OHE instructions, radiographs exposed and recall appointment.


4. If you ask your patient what flavor of prophy paste they like, make this one of your first questions

Asking them their flavor preference will save time in two ways. One, you won’t have to deglove to grab their paste out of the drawer, then spend the time regloving in the middle of your appointment. Two, it opens up a new conversation with the patient. You’d be surprised how many patients don’t like mint-flavored things in the dental office, and how new conversations flow after asking about their flavor preferences, like how they love chocolate anything, or that pina coladas are their favorite flavor or drink.


5. When in doubt, polish first

If your patient presents with heavy biofilm, save yourself some time and save your wrist by polishing first. Make sure you’re polishing with either toothpaste or a fine grit as you may not know what’s going on yet under those layers of biofilm. Patients love being polished and the feeling of smooth teeth, so I personally don’t polish first on every patient that comes into my operatory. But, if I’m behind or feeling overwhelmed with heavy biofilm, polishing first can be a big time saver.


6. Have a backup battery for your loupes

Having two batteries for your loupes light is definitely an investment, but it’s a huge time-saver when your light gives out in the middle of an appointment. I always feel a little flustered when my battery goes out, especially if I’m temping. Having a backup makes it easy to move onto the next patient with confidence that I’ll be able to see.

Let us know if you try out any of these suggestions! We’d love to know what’s working and what isn’t to make your hygiene day go a bit smoother.

What are you doing to make each day a little better?

Visit Hygiene Edge more from Melia Lewis, RDH, BSDH.

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