Remember back in Dental Hygiene school and your assignment of making an oral hygiene education kit full of handouts and samples? Remember how you made it and never used it? Well, I’m going to encourage you to either pull it out or make up a new one! Especially if you temp regularly or are looking for a new job or your first job. Here are a few reasons why to brush off the dust off your old portfolio:
If you ever talk to Candi, she ALWAYS takes her OHE kit with her to temp days. I actually started to use mine again because of her! She would always get compliments from offices about how she took the time and cared for patients by bringing extra little things to give them. They definitely notice that you care for patients and aren’t there just to get through another day. She, and now I, have had several job offers from temp days by just showing we have cared about patients and their oral and overall health.
Patients notice and love stuff. When you go to a convention or an appointment, do you love getting samples? It’s human nature to love free things to try out. Your patients love it too. Giving them something physical to take home and try out will help remind them of the education you talked about during the appointment as well.
What does an OHE Kit look like?
It’s hard to stay exactly what it should look like. A system that works for you is definifely the best! I persoanlly have mine in an occordian style folder, with dividers to organize papers and producits in sections, such as Diabetes, Children, Pregnency, etc. I’ve also seen binders with page protectors to organize papers, as well as a file folder box with divided areas. Whatever you have space for or can carry is the best for you!
Now that you’re ready to remake your portofio, what should you have it in? First, look at your population that you serve. If you work in pediactrics, obviously your hand outs and products should be taylored to your little ones. If you work in a high caries risk area, make sure you have several sampeles and flyers all about decreasing caries and fluoride recommendations. Here are a few general idea you could add into your kit:
1. Xylitol Lollipops- These are my favorite to have on hand! They’re perfect to open a conversation about xylitol to parents (and have our Hygiene Edge handout to give to parents if they have any questions). They’re also amazing to have when parents bring their children to their appointment, especially when temping since a temp day is already stressful! Once they start to get wiggly, I’ll pull them out to give to the child to help them make it through the hour. I personally like the flavors of Xyloburst's lollipops.
2. Brushing/Flossing Calendars- These are always a fun motivator for both adults and children. Not many people hand them out, so talking about brushing habits and enforcing the habit with a calendar can make an impression on patients.
3. Plain Blank Index Cards- If I’m temping, I love to have some blank cards on me to make notes for the patient about OHE recommendations that we talked about during the appointment. They’re ok looking, and a lot more professional than a Post It Note. If you work at an office every week, look into having a simple paper made up with your office logo at the top. Slip this paper into the patient OHE bag to help reinforce habits at home.
4. Samples from Conventions- Floss, brushes, denture cleaner tablets, anything! It is definitely temping to use all the samples from a convention yourself (and I’m not going to lie- I use and test out most of them!) but saving them for patients is always nice. Slip them into a pocket of your OHE folder to give out to patients in practice at a later date.
5. Coupons- Again, having something tangible of a product you recommended is always great to remind the patient what exactly it was you talked about. Knowing and talking about which stores in your area that they product can be purchased at it always helpful as well.