Most of us have made fun of the doctor that smokes telling others to stop. This same problem exists in dentistry. If you drink sugar pop, floss only occasionally, and don’t have regular check ups, how can you honestly ask a client to do better? A secretary that works away from the client may say, “How will they know what I do? I’m not working with them anyway?”
The answer is ‑ we’re health professionals. I believe when we work in a health field we should try to be healthy. Not just our teeth, but our whole bodies. Nutrition, physical fitness, stress management. These are the keys to a successful life. If you are going to be successful professionally, you must be successful personally. Establish good personal habits. They will give you the energy and peace of mind to be successful with others. To accomplish this task successfully you should try to:
Thorough Dental Exam
Now it’s time for you to experience a thorough dental exam. An easy test of the effectiveness of our front desk is the number of new clients that begin with a thorough exam rather than a cleaning. When things are going well, 70% will begin with a thorough exam. Here is the difference between a cleaning/exam and a thorough exam: The average dentist will spend no more than 3‑5 minutes with the client at the end of a prophy appointment ‑primarily checking for decay, gum disease, and focusing on concerns by the client or hygienist. In a thorough exam, the doctor will spend the first 15 minutes in the private office getting to know the client as a person, review the medical and dental histories, and determining the initial goals of the client. Next, the doctor will escort the client to a treatment room and spend the next 15 minutes systematically reviewing and recording an entire exam of the head and neck. Finally, the doctor will review the initial findings with the client and they will together decide what other information (x‑rays, models, etc.) are necessary and what steps to take next. If everything seems ok, a cleaning would be next. If gum disease is present, soft tissue management would be appropriate. If extensive dentistry is needed, a conference with the doctor to review a written treatment plan would be best. This conference time should avoid the 3 deadly sins:
As you can see, a thorough exam gives us the opportunity to provide the best care for the client in the most relaxed manner. Involved treatment will be organized quietly by the doctor, written out, and discussed in the doctor’s office, usually one week after the exam. This conference gives the doctor time to educate the client and discuss treatment in a non‑threatening environment. So how do we arrange for our clients to have a “perfect” first visit?
What must the client decide before they accept treatment from us?
1. Does the service meet their needs and is it priced so the clients believe they receive value?
2. Are the benefits clear?
3. Does it satisfy their chief concern?
4. Do they trust you to provide this treatment?
This good first impression helps us achieve these goals
1. Client accepts comprehensive treatment
2. Client refers others to us
3. Client is always on time for appointments
4. Client returns for continuing care appointments
5. Client takes responsibility for own health
The Perfect Beginning
Your first contact with a client is very important. In fact, it will take at least 7 future appointments to change this first impression. Here are assumptions the client will make at this first contact:
Your responsibility is to quickly (without preaching), show the client the value of a thorough exam. Rehearse what you’re going to say. It might go something like this: “Mrs. Jones, thank you for selecting us. How may I help you?” Fill out the top of the yellow sheet. Preferred name. Chief concern. Be thorough
Client ‑ “I’m due for a cleaning and a check up.”
Recep ‑ “Many of patients that are new prefer to begin with a thorough exam. During this visit the doctor will review your past medical and dental care and discuss the type of care you prefer. next your dentist would thoroughly examine your head, neck, and TMJ. Finally, the doctor would review the findings with you and discuss treatment options. This is a good way to get to know your doctor, learn about your dental health, and have a say about how you like to be treated.
Client ‑ “I don’t understand: A dentist has always checked me after, the hygienist cleaned. Isn’t that a good exam?”
Recep ‑ “That type of exam is just a quick check, mainly for decay and gum disease. In a thorough exam, the dentist will spend about 1/2 hour with you.”
Client ‑ “Oh, well that sounds like a good idea. Is it very expensive?”
Recep ‑ “No, the doctors think that this is so important that they only charge $___ for this exam.”
Client ‑ “Okay. I’d like that kind of appointment.”
Recep ‑ “Fine. Is there anything else I should know to make you more comfortable?” “I’ll write that down and make sure the doctor is aware of it.” Write it down.
Recep ‑ (Always using benefits statements) “To help you get acquainted with us before you come in, I’ll send you some information about us. I’ll also enclose a health questionnaire so you’ll have plenty of time to fill it out. If you have any questions about any of this, please call me (not “If you don’t understand.”) I would recommend that you come 10‑15 minutes early so I can meet you and answer any questions you might have.”
When this client arrives for the appointment, stand up and acknowledge him/her on arrival. Extend your hand. Greet by name. Clients will notice first in order: clothing-> gestures (smile) -> eyes. Always offer a handshake/ be firm and watch their pressure for 1-2 seconds. Watch your body language. Point with your whole hand, not a finger. Don’t cover your mouth when you talk (hiding something). Don’t fiddle with hair, jewelry, pen, shuffle feet
In the best practices, 80% of new clients come from direct referrals. Ask satisfied clients for more referrals. “I’m so happy that your treatment turned out so well. I really enjoyed working with you. We’d like to serve lots of people just like you. If you have friends that you would like to refer to us, have them mention your name and I’ll make sure they get every consideration.”
This may seem like a lot of your doctor’s time for very little fee. However, this is the time to build a relationship. We will gift our new client this time in order to build confidence and understanding. Your client won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This exam is our best way to show this concern.
This thorough exam gives our staff time to get to know the client and vice versa. The clients experience the time we are willing to invest in their health. Time shows our dedication to quality and will build trust. Spending time to find out the health status of clients and then discussing their choices and answering their questions saves us from having to guess at what a client wants, or worse, trying to force clients to accept what we think is in their best interest.
The clients who receive poor service will feel frustrated and angry. They expect “good” service, so our job is to exceed our clients’ expectations through attention on detail. A first time client is easy to please. However, on the 3rd ‑ 5th visit the client will look for all the details. Is there dust on the baseboards? Did the secretary acknowledge the clients as they came in? By the third visit, every detail is important and we are being evaluated under a microscope.
Goes through a new client exam and OHI personally (You never get a second chance to make a good first impression)
You have been with us long enough to know how hard we work to care for people and provide quality care. The cornerstone for this quality care is a thorough exam. I wish every client would allow us to provide this service. This is the most significant opportunity we have to communicate with clients. In order for you to promote this service to our clients, you should experience it yourself. You may have your own dentist and choose to maintain this relationship. That’s certainly ok. However, I would still like for you to have the exam so you can see how valuable it is in establishing a positive relationship with our clients.
Put yourself in the shoes of this new client. No one likes to visit a dentist. The first visit magnifies all these fears/concerns. They don’t know if we know what we’re doing. Will we hurt them? Will it cost too much? Will they be treated like children? Help! How can we make the first contact with us a bang‑up positive experience? First of all, it’s not the first 10 minutes that count, it’s the first minute. Once a client enters the office, what the secretary does speaks much louder than what she says. Keep these things in mind:
1. Your sitting or standing posture
2. Your eye contact
3. How you hold your head
4. Your general expression and demeanor
5. Be polite
Let’s assume that the client’s first contact went well. The secretary was friendly. She found out the chief reason for our client’s visit. She discussed the value of a thorough exam. The client accepted. She sent the client a health questioner. Our client brought it in for the first appointment. S/he was greeted by name. We were on time and if not, a staff member apologizes if we’re more than 5 minutes late. The reception room was clean and neat. Your doctor or his assistant will greet the client personally in the reception room. The client is escorted to the doctor’s office. Now your doctor is responsible for the following sequence:
As your dentist finishes this appointment, s/he will tell the chairside what is needed:
Discussion with the client ‑ either at this time or at a follow up conference if the treatment is extensive to review existing conditions and various treatments and fees. Clients accept treatment if we answer these questions:
Now the client is returned to a secretary to arrange:
1. Next appointment
3. Answer any other questions
Either at the first appointment, in for a cleaning, or at the second appointment after a thorough exam, each new client begins to learn from our hygienists our approach to becoming dentally healthy. Our hygienists will develop a partnership with our clients focused on their home care. The hygienist will show confidence in the client’s ability, usually with some lifestyle changes, to stop decay and gum disease. So you can answer any client questions, one of our hygienists will update you on the current concepts of home care.
Even at a beginner’s level in dentistry, you’ll be under constant job stress. There’s no way to avoid it. When you accept more responsibilities you increase your potential stress. I’ll discuss ways to reduce this stress in the office in later levels, but now I’d like to give you some ideas for reducing the stress at home now that you are working an “extra” 30 or more hours a week plus all the other jobs you had at home before you began working with us.
These ideas are for those of you who have children at home.
Ten years ago balancing your job and your family was enough. Today, you also need to be aware of your cholesterol level, manage your stress, reduce your percent of body fat, and exercise to control your blood pressure. Whew! One of our goals at is to help you retire years from now in such good health that you can enjoy your retirement for many more years. We want to support you so that you can be the healthiest you can be. Healthy people have numerous advantages:
In order to improve everyone’s level of health, we encourage staff to consider joining the YMCA to help provide personal training, fitness instruction and nutrition education focus. As you move up the levels, you will receive a health benefit in each level to help you improve your health as you build your career.
Usually flu shots begin in early October. You’ll have the antibodies in 2 weeks and the flu season starts in November.
What to do
For staff that appears ill.
We will take temperatures of staff that appear ill.
Fever over 100º and Family member has the flu and Did not get H1N1 vaccine
If above threshold – sent home-may return in 2 days if normal temperature without taking any medications
If develops flu-may return 1 day after all symptoms gone (usually 7-8 days)
If any staff member chooses to not take the flu shot, that person will be isolated from the rest of the staff and clients as much as possible until flu season is over.
People become infectious 1 day before getting sick and 7 days after. That means if you get the flu, you may miss 2 weeks of work. So get your shots!
Stay home and call us if you have 2 or more symptoms:
“How nice of you to worry about our schedule. However, the way you feel, I think it would be very difficult for you to sit through a dental appointment today. We’ll call you in a couple days to set up a new appointment. I hope you’re feeling better soon.”
Please sign the following declination form if you don’t plan to be vaccinated.
Declination of H1N1 Influenza Vaccine
NAME: _______________________Birth date: _____________________
I have been offered H1N1 Influenza vaccination by my employer. I understand that because I work in a health care environment I may place others at risk – patients and co-workers – if I work while infected with the H1N1 influenza (flu) virus.
In declining an H1N1 vaccination reasons, I am aware that:
Reasons I do not wish to take the vaccine – please check the applicable reason:
□ I cannot take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons
□ I am concerned about side effects
□ I don’t believe this vaccination is important – I never get the flu
□ It was too inconvenient to get the vaccine when it was offered
□ I receive the vaccine elsewhere. I will/have provide(d) record of my immunization to the practice
□ Other Reason: _______________________________________________________
I have read and fully understand the information presented above.
________________________________ ____________________ Signature Date
Hepatitis is a devastating disease. Most children are vaccinated before they start school. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that hepatitis infection is the single worst and most at risk disease dental staff may acquire. Although you could get this infection simply by eating off unsterilized silverware in a restaurant, the group most likely to be infected is healthcare workers who are infected by contact with clients’ blood or saliva.
It just makes no sense, given the many ways you could be infected and the devastating symptoms you would have to live with for the rest of your life, to not be vaccinated. However, you do have the right to decline this vaccination. Be sure to sign the appropriate declaration and give it to your dentist. If you have been vaccinated in the past, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend a booster. The protective antibodies stay with you for over 25 years.
Hand Dermatitis – Dermatitis can be caused by:
You can reduce the potential for dermatitis by using:
Hand cleaning routine for hygienists and chairside assistants:
Step 1 – clean any visible material off your hands first thing when you start your shift or anytime your hands are visibly not clean during the day.
Step 2 – When ready to treat a client, use a foam emollient before putting on gloves.