Best Practises For A Rewarding Dental Hygienist Career

Best Practises For A Rewarding Dental Hygienist Career

Registered dental hygienists offer these tips to the student or new graduate.

  • Have patience with your patients. Every one of them will be different and have different needs. Some are going to be sensitive, some are scared and some will be rude. Don’t take it personally, it’s not a reflection on you.
  • Put your whole self into your work to get the most out of it. It’s a career, not a job.
  • Always maintain these three traits and don’t compromise them for anything: integrity, honesty and a smiling personality.
  • Be nice to your clients – Put yourself in their shoes and try to find ways to relax them.
  • Speak in plain words, laymen’s terms – dental jargon will only bore or confuse patients.
  • The three major “Cs” to help keep patients engaged and motivated about their oral health are: customer service, communication and continuing care.
  • As a dental hygienist, your role has two main functions: one is hands on, requiring you to have manual dexterity and good clinical skills; the other is communicating, requiring you to have good people skills. The “hands-on” is self explanatory. The communication is trickier. Not only will you need to need to educate and motivate your patients but you’ll need to communicate well with the rest of the team – the dentist, dental assistant and front office staff.
  • Dental hygiene is all about relationships. You will be physically touching your patients, therefore, an element of trust has to be involved. You need to establish that by conveying, with everything you do – including your body language – that you are the type of person who likes and wants to help people. Starting conversations with an approach of genuine care and concern minimizes potential defensiveness and animosity and reduces anxiety.
  • Don’t just regurgitate your knowledge – ask open-ended questions to help the patient make a decision, starting with “help me to understand” followed by the things you want to know:
    • what makes you hesitant to go ahead with your treatment?
    • your concerns about x-rays?
    • why keeping your scheduled appointments is difficult for you?
    • how you look after your mouth at home?
  • Today’s dental hygienist needs to be a wellness promoter. When you care enough to find ways to include overall health and wellness in how you speak to and treat your patients, they will trust you. The concept of total health is a powerful motivator and you need to motivate them to become proactive, i.e., to follow your advice and see you on a regular basis.
  • Nothing helps to convey you’re genuinely interested in someone like addressing them by the correct name. And that can be hard to do if you deal with a large number of patients you only see once or twice a year. Before they come in to see you, write their name on a Post-it and have it somewhere handy where you can always see it if you’re stuck.
  • If you are more of an independent dental hygienist, one who works out of a dental office but not necessarily for the dentist, then you might be in charge of your own scheduling and follow-up. In that case, know that different generations prefer different forms of communication. Find out which ones are tech-savvy and which ones aren’t. Some might want a phone call or appointment card to remind them of their next appointment; some might prefer just a text message.
  • You will need vision and a track to run on to avoid falling into a rut. Ensure ongoing growth is a priority and continue your education whenever possible. Never stop learning.