Hygienist-Patient Communication

Hygienist patient communication in action

Communication plays a very significant role in hygiene appointments. In addition to the many preventive and diagnostic procedures the hygienist performs for patients, they also take responsibility for educating patients about how to care for their teeth and gums at home. This combination of clinical and educational duties keeps a hygienist very busy, but training with scripts will enable everyone to address additional informational needs without increasing time pressure or stress.

If properly trained in interpersonal communications, your hygienist can contribute to patient satisfaction and practice success in four main areas:

  1. Education and Professional Advice – As already mentioned, providing sound guidance about home oral health care is an essential part of a hygienist’s job. They can add value through this role by offering dental care products that they feel comfortable endorsing based on their professional experience and research.

  2. Commentary throughout the appointment – Don’t assume that patients know specifically what steps your hygienist takes during an appointment to examine, clean and protect teeth and gums. Even if they were told at one time, it’s not reasonable to expect them to remember. Better for the hygienist to simply mention what they are doing, and why. This requires no extra time, and can reinforce patients’ commitment to make and keep regular hygiene appointments.

  3. Reminding Patients about Treatment Not Yet Accepted – If you recommended treatment that patients have not positively rejected or accepted, your hygienist can revisit the subject without pressure. Simply by asking if they have given more thought to the matter will often open the door to a meaningful discussion.

  4. Relationship Building – Script training makes it possible to inject personal, friendly elements into the hygienist-patient conversation, getting better acquainted, discovering common interests, etc. New personal facts about patients can be written down for a quick review before seeing patients the next time. Showing that the practice remembers details about the patients as individuals will be pleasing to them and beneficial for the practice-patient relationship.

Discuss these communications opportunities with your hygienist and provide training centered on scripts. You’ll be empowering them to improve their interpersonal skills and make the hygiene department an even greater asset at your practice.

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This resource was provided by Levin Group, a leading dental consulting firm that provides dentists innovative management and marketing systems that result in increased patient referrals, production and profitability, while lowering stress. Since 1985, dentists have relied on Levin Group dental consulting to increase production.