July 1, 2007
by LeeAnn Shipowick, RDH, B.Sc.
People love good packaging and lets face it, good packaging sells. What woman doesn’t enjoy the robin egg blue boxes of Tiffany & Co., or the packaging of a Starbucks coffee with their fancy names and protected cups or the Westin Hotel’s heavenly bed concept? These smart companies sell their products with clever packaging.
In dentistry, we are in the business of health and it’s time for our practices to package, promote, and sell our products. Most dental hygienists are proficient at scaling, root planing, probing and flossing but often don’t realize that they are also packaging a product to sell. As a profession, collectively, hygienists believe it is their calling to remove by all methods possible, the microscopic granular guck; ridding the mouth of toxic bacteria, harmful plaque, calculus and exudate, tooth by tooth, until their patients’ mouths are as clean as humanly possible in order to fight the ominous battle of periodontal disease. Most hygienists believe they make a difference in their clients overall health and studies fully support the whole healthy mouth, healthy body truth. However, and what many hygienists do not understand, is that it is up to us to sell the product of health to our clients.
How do we package health (both dental and overall health)? We package health by making it important and clearly communicating that to our clients. We package health by not rewarding the periodontal diseased delinquents by rushing them through therapy. We also package health with value added service such as lip balm and warm towels during treatment or blood pressure readings to name a few. Then we sell our best possible treatment plans for the client’s total body health. We slow down, take the time to package our service and then simply sell good health.
It is the dental hygienist’s responsibility to understand and package themselves as necessary items in the shopping cart of life. Our clients are busy, over scheduled and have their own list of priorities so we need to communicate to them the importance of dental health in relation to overall health. There are many studies that support the direct correlation of periodontal disease to heart, immune system and other health problems. And yet we hygienists are timid, sometimes too self conscious to sell our product — health. Be assured that if our clients understood that plaque and calculus were causing them illness and further risk of serious illness, you can bet that they would value and want immediate attention to rid themselves of the toxins that threaten good health.
It’s time for us to package health as a product and move to the top on the shopping list of life’s priorities.
LeeAnn Shipowick graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene with a Speech Communications emphasis. In addition to practice coaching and consulting, LeeAnn presents lectures at dental hygiene schools and periodontal study clubs. LeeAnn lectures internationally as well as in North America. www.learndental.com