April 22, 2021
by Dr. Christopher Young, Young Family Dental
Dental hygienists are a key part in ensuring that patients are satisfied with their visit at the dental practice. As a hygienist, you not only assist your patients with their oral hygiene, you also are responsible for helping educate them on oral diseases and how they can better care for their mouth. Here are 4 ways that you as a hygienist can improve the patient experience.
4 Ways Dental Hygienists Can Improve the Patient Experience
Educate Your Patients
One of the most important aspects of being a hygienist is that you are qualified to be an educator to your patients. One way that you can improve the patient experience is by using your time with your patients to educate them on their dental health and best practices for maintaining a healthy smile. For example, you can teach them about how to properly brush and floss their teeth; however, you can also teach them about foods and drinks that could be harming the integrity of their teeth.
As a hygienist, it is important to make sure you have your patient’s best interest in mind. If you learn through their medical history or through asking questions that they have any bad habits, you can gently educate them on why those habits are bad and what it will take to improve.
You have the best interest of your patients in mind, so take the time to educate them and show you truly care for them.
Keep a Good Attitude
You can be good at your job, but if you have a bad attitude, patients won’t come back to see you. Since the hygienist role is one that has the most one-on-one time with the patients, having a positive attitude can make all the difference. We all have bad days but making it a point to be kind to your patients will make them feel more comfortable at the practice. Further, this will help promote patient retention and keep them coming back to the practice you work at.
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
One of the main priorities of a dental hygienist should be helping your patients prevent common dental health issues that are easy to avoid. When you notice signs of excessive plaque or red, swollen gums, educate your patient on what that means and how they can prevent the issue. If the issue has already developed, help them learn how to prevent that problem from coming back in the future. Preventative care can make your job easier in the long run, and it can also save the patient from costly and time-consuming procedures later on.
Dental hygienists have a special role within the practice because you are essentially a bridge between the patient and the dentist. You can help take stress away from the dentist by overseeing the general health assessment of the patient. Alternatively, you are a channel that the patient can use to communicate with the dentist. Sometimes, patients can see the dentist as being intimidating and that can make them nervous to ask questions. However, as the patient often spends a majority of their time at the dental office with the hygienist, they typically feel more comfortable talking with you. Take the time to listen to their concerns and let them know that you are in direct communication with the dentist about what questions or issues they may have. Being accessible and having the patient feel as though they can talk with you will help them, again, feel comfortable in your chair — which is a surefire way to improve their experience with you.
The Importance of Dental Hygienists
Your role as a dental hygienist isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some days, your work will include helping take stress off the practice by doing mundane work. Other days, you will help a patient reclaim their dental health. However, no matter the day, your job as a dental hygienist directly impacts the patients that visit the office. You never know, just a simple smile could be all it takes to positively impact the patient you’re seeing.
About the Author
Dr. Christopher Young graduated from the University of Utah where he studied medical biology. He went on to study dentistry at New York University. Dr. Young immediately began serving the communities of Utah with their dental needs and has been in practice for over 16 years. He has become highly accomplished in wisdom teeth extraction, invisible braces, dentures, bridges and crowns. He is on staff in Utah Valley’s hospitals and surgical centers.