Part 2-Increasing The Dentists Production-An Overlooked Job Title of the Dental Hygienist

Part 2- Finding Treatment Needs

In Part 1 I talked about how to help the dentist increase case acceptance. Part 2 of this conversation is how to find treatment that the patient needs for the dentist. 

At the beginning of every appointment I USED to ask, “do you have any teeth bothering you?” Often times the patient would forget and then once the dentist arrived they would state, “Doc this tooth on the upper right has been hurting for weeks.” I would then have to work backwards, take a PA and have the dentist take another look after the initial exam. CAN YOU SAY TIME WASTER. To prevent this and become a valuable team member, that aids in helping to find treatment needs, I ask that beginning question a little differently now by asking several detailed questions instead. 


1. Do you have any sensitivity to cold? (Potential Fl2, or desensitizing treatment needed)
2. Do you have any sensitivity to hot? (Potential nerve damage= take a PA)
3. Do you have any sensitivity to pressure? (Potential tooth fracture=potential crown)
4. Do you have any sensitivity to sweets? (Potential caries)
5. Do you have any concerns with your smile? (Potential whitening, ortho, veneers, or crown lengthening)

NOTE: this may seem like a lot of questions, if so pick your favorite one, ask it each time and make yourself more valuable. 

During the appointment I always do a brief (about 2 minutes) visual exam with my air and take intraoral photos of areas of concern such as fractures, chips, abfractions, demineralization, darkened areas, or calculus. 

The dentist will usually ask if you have any findings prior to sitting down for the exam. If they answered yes to any of the above or you have found any areas with your visual exam, have them evaluate those areas.

One office I worked in used a DIAGNOdent and I really learned to trust it. (NOTE: we are not paid to say this stuff, and there are several similar products out there available) I would get all of the readings on suspicious areas and if they were demineralized to a certain number (NOTE: ours was 25-30)  the dentist would treatment plan a filling. I was surprised at how many areas of occlusal caries had been going undiagnosed.   By making time to do this in my hygiene appointment (NOTE: I had 1 hour appointments) I was helping to increase the dentist production. Making me more valuable.

I had one hygienist tell me once that she felt like her office would benefit from this tool so she bought one for the dentist knowing that with just 40 one-surface fillings it would be paid for.  She found that many in the first week (NOTE: it was a very busy office with double hygiene and she knew it was an awesome tool because she had used it at a previous office) Wow, did she ever make herself valuable, and of course she was reimbursed for her purchase. I also hope she got a BIG raise. Using this tool, or others like it, also gives us as hygienists an opportunity to talk about the need for sealants which can increase hygiene production. 

NOTE: want to know how to use the DIAGNOdent check out our video HERE.

To summarize, make yourself more valuable to your office by helping the dentist find treatment that the patient needs. Watch for part 3 coming soon as I talk about how to track this information to ask for a raise. Happy treatment finding.