(Part 1) Techniques to Increase Case Acceptance
Of course we should pay attention to the hygiene departments production but may I also suggest that we pay close attention to how much the dentists production is as well. One often overlooked way a hygienist can add value to the practice is by increasing case acceptance. How does a hygienist go about doing this? Well, as you all know every dentist diagnoses differently and has different philosophies on treatment planning. As you get working with a dentist you will pick up quickly on their diagnosis philosophies and will be able to pre-inform patients of potential concerns WITHOUT diagnosis. For example if you see something that the dentist usually diagnoses bring it up to the patient by saying something like,
“this looks concerning (or suspicious), lets have the dentist take a look at it.”
If they hear it from you AND then from the dentist it put urgency on getting the NEEDED treatment completed.
To make my point, let me share with you a story. At one office I worked at the dentist always recommended to patients that amalgam filling get replaced with composite ones. When I first started working there I noticed that he would have this type of conversation with every patient, stating something like, "amalgam fillings expand and contract, and over time flex the tooth so much that it leads to fractures in teeth. Therefore, I recommend replacing this with a composite material."
SIDE NOTE: One may not agree with the dentists diagnosis philosophy, if not you must consider for yourself if it is the right place of employment for you.
I don’t know what he learned in school or what CE courses he took, nor what research he has studied but I did recognized quickly that this was a conversation that he felt was important to have with all patients with amalgams. Therefore, I started to state to the patients, “ I noticed that you have several amalgam fillings, over time these can potentially expand and contract weakening the tooth. I am going to have the dentist evaluate them and see how they are holding up.” When it was exam time I would state to the dentist, “Mrs. Brown has several amalgam fillings, would you please double check them to see how they are holding up?” With the patient hearing the concern over the amalgam fillings twice they were more willing to accept theproposed treatment plan to replace them.
Now, not all dentists like to replace amalgam fillings but you will pick up quickly on the treatment needs your dentist puts value on. At one point I was working at 3 different offices. On Mondays and Wednesdays I was informing patients of the need to replace amalgams. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I was informing patients that amalgam was still an awesome filling option, and on Fridays I worked for a dentist who didn't like composite or amalgam, ONLY inlays/onlays. It was quite the juggling act to remember where I was and what my pre-informing scripts were for the day.
There are many other scenarios that you may find in practice. Becoming an amazing dental hygienist includes developing the skill to increase case acceptance of the treatment plans that the dentist proposes to the patients by pre-informing them of suspicious areas and potential remedies. Getting good at this skill will increase your value to the office because it will help increase the overall office production as patients are hearing and understanding treatment needs from 2 professionals.
Get started increasing case acceptance by using the formula below and recognize how your dentist diagnoses and have pre UNDIAGNOSTIC conversations with your patients about concerns, suspicious areas and potential remedies.