How to Get the Most from the Hygientist’s Guide to Orthodontics™
The impact of the Hygienist's Guide to Orthodontics can be enhanced substantially if you follow a few guidelines for delivery. Here is what you need to know about getting this item to the intended users.
Setting Up The Appointment
- Call the primary-care dentist’s office and tell the receptionist that you would like to provide their hygienist with some material to make it easier to manage orthodontic patients.
- Find out what the hygienist’s name is, and what days she is in the office.
- Tell the receptionist that you will only take about 5 minutes, and ask if you can set up an appointment to come by on a day the hygienist is in the office.
Once You’re There
- Introduce yourself if you do not already know the hygienist.
- Explain that your office has purchased this material to help in answering questions that patients and parents have about the need for orthodontics and oral hygiene for patients who have braces. Then cover the following points:
a. Acknowledge that he/she already knows the information, but the Hygienist’s Guide™ makes it easier to explain to orthodontic patients and their parents.
b. Tell him/her that it is simple, fast and easy to use.
c. Show her the 3-step procedure for recognizing orthodontic problems and the answers to questions related to orthodontics.
d. Point out the pictures of “normal” which can be shown to patients and parents as a comparison when discussing malocclusions.
e. If your practice does not charge for examinations without records, be sure to mention that to the hygienist. This is extremely important in cases where the dentist/hygienist is not sure about the need for orthodontics. (“If in doubt, refer.”)
f. Thank her for her help with the oral hygiene of your mutual patients.
g. Ask if there is anything that your office can do to take better care of her or her patients.
h. Show her any items you are providing regarding homecare for your patients, and what you are doing to prevent and treat decalcification.
i. Let her know what your office team is doing to get her patients back to her for their preventive appointments.
j. Thank the hygienist and dentist for their time.
k. If appropriate, send a “nice-to-have-met-you” note within one week of your meeting.
- If the office has more than one hygienist, it is important to have a face-to-face meeting with each. You could leave an extra Hygienist’s Guide to Orthodontics™, but personal contact is much better. Remember that in some offices, the hygienist can be a stronger referral source than the doctor.
- Referring professionals need to see the orthodontist in person at least once every six months. However, when it is not feasible for the doctor to personally deliver the Hygienist’s Guide™, a staff member with strong interpersonal skills should serve as the contact person.
- If you visit an office and find that the dentist already has a copy of the Hygienist’s Guide to Orthodontics™, ask if she has one for each operatory. We never know which room the orthodontic candidate will be in when orthodontics is discussed.
Give a Presentation to Dentists and Hygienists
One effective method for increasing referrals is to use the Hygienist’s Guide to Orthodontics™ as a seminar handout. Here are some thoughts on staging a high-impact seminar for your area hygienists.
- Plan to hold your seminar on a weeknight at a local hotel, restaurant, or private club, or better yet, your office.
- Send a letter a month in advance to area dentist inviting their hygienists to a continuing education event. Include the time, date and location. Use wording such as “In appreciation for the support you’ve shown us ...” or “In appreciation for the privilege of working with you and your patients...” Also mention in your letter that you’ll be discussing treatment timing in orthodontics and that you’ll answer many of the questions that patients and parents have regarding orthodontics. Try to give continuing education credits if your state permits that. Keep the letter brief. One page will do.
- Be sure to have your staff confirm by phone the day prior to your presentation. This can double the attendance at your event.
- Start around 6:00 p.m. with a networking session of no more than an hour. This is especially important if you’ll be offering wine, cocktails, etc. Thirty to forty-five minutes is optimal. Have at least some of your staff on hand for relationship building.
- A buffet works well because it is fast and your guests will select what they want.
For an Effective Presentation
- Try to have a representative selection of cases depicting problems in all 3 planes of space – vertical, horizontal and antero-posterior. You, no doubt, take these dimensions for granted, but dentists and hygienists rarely think in these terms.
- Use the laminated Hygienist’s Guide™ as your handout. If your audience leaves with a firm grasp of the principles on that document, you’ve achieved a major victory.
- Try to limit your presentation to no more than one and a half hours. Studies in adult learning patterns show that retention dissipates with longer presentations.
- Assemble study models, frontal and lateral photographs and a panoramic radiograph for representative cases. Working in small groups, have the attendees review the records and fill out copies of the attached worksheet using the Hygienist’s Guide™.
- Move from group to group so that you can interact with your audience – especially those you don’t already know.
- Review the diagnosis and referral recommendations for each case with the entire group. Use terms such as “How many of you say it’s ________?” Affirm correct answers: “Very good.” Be very careful not to hurt the feelings of anyone with an incorrect answer. That’s done by saying: “Okay, does anyone else have a different answer?”
- Resist the temptation to discuss everything you know about orthodontics. This can bury the audience and actually reduce long-term retention of your presentation.
- Explain to your audience the 3 most likely outcomes of an early screening and the benefits of referring an eight-year-old patient. Explain that there’s no down side to referring a patient, but the “up side” might be life-changing treatment.
Interceptive Treatment Observation Growth/Development No Treatment Necessary Prevent Surgery or Compromised Treatment Optimum Treatment Timing Peace of Mind
- The emotional or “human” side of a presentation is usually the part that makes it memorable. Use this quote: “Sometimes the best part is the part you can’t see.” Then, tell them about 2 or 3 young patients in your practice who have experienced dramatic changes in their self-image because of their change in appearance. Give them and their dentists credit for sending you such patients
- Plan to close on a high note. One of your favorite quotes will probably work well – especially if it is relevant to the presentation.
- Practice, and practice some more. Give the presentation to your spouse and your staff and ask for constructive suggestions. Confidence comes when you know you’re prepared!