3 Ways to Easier Hygiene Exams


Do you cringe every time you hear a call for a hygiene exam? Do you feel that your hygiene checks could be more productive and faster? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a common frustration that I hear from both dentists and hygienists.

Hygienists: I have to wait so long for a doctor exam

Doctors: I go in there to do an exam and my hygienist hasn’t even mentioned to the patient that they have a broken molar

Here are 3 ways to make hygiene exams quicker, productive and much less painful:

#1 Allow your hygienist to participate in the discovery and diagnosis process. This includes taking intra-oral photos and sharing their concerns about dental problems whether they are perio or restorative. Set the expectation with your hygienist that you would like restorative needs to be addressed before you enter the room. This is most easily done when you have created a master treatment plan. This removes a roadblock that some hygienists encounter: “but I can’t diagnose”. If the actual diagnosis has already been made then he/she can simply view the next section of planned treatment and be sure it is still the most urgent. Then reviewing the problems becomes easy, especially when intra-oral cameras or digital cameras are used. Suddenly, when you arrive for the exam, there is a photo of the problem on the patient monitor and Ms. Jones is ready to schedule. All she needs is your confirmation.

The very first step to increasing hygiene co- diagnosis is getting you and your hygienist(s) on the same page. Using our Case Review protocol helps you make this happen. Click Here to check out an article I wrote for Dentistry Today where I revealed this powerful tool.

#2 Give your hygienist a systematic approach to the hygiene exam. Then set the expectation that all points of the exam should be complete BEFORE scaling and BEFORE calling for a doctor exam. You can create your own exam protocol or email me and I am happy to share ours with you. Rachel@InspiredHygiene.com. This leads us to Step #3.

#3 Be open to checking hygiene before the end of the appointment. If your hygienist is completing her exam before beginning to scale, then she will be ready to go within 20-30 minutes of beginning the appointment with all the information you need. She can call you for an exam at that point and then you have 15-20 minutes if you need to finish a procedure. Give her permission to call you again after 10 minutes have passed.

A great way to make this easy is to use a communication system. You may have a light system or you may have the “run up the hall” system. My favorite is radio communication. The Motorola TalkAbout 6510 with headset is a great, affordable unit and is available at Radio Shack and most office supply stores. This system allows all team members to communicate important information as well as calling for Doc exams. There is one caveat to using radio communication, everyone (that’s right, you too) must make an agreement to wear their radio at all times, no exceptions. If one team member slacks off, the system just doesn’t work. Stay tuned for more on this idea in a future e-zine.

They’re Asking For It…


You’ve seen those patients wandering the toothpaste aisle at your local Rite-Aid or Target. They’re lost as to what products to choose. If you’re like me, you really want to go up to them and make your recommendation but don’t want to seem too nosey. That’s why they ask US-their personal dental advisor. So instead of sending them into the ‘wild blue yonder’, why not put your product of choice in their hand-before they leave your office?

I’m curious. Have you ever wanted to find an oral care line that:

  • Won’t stain those beautiful pearly whites
  • Is completely alcohol-free
  • Totally eliminates bad breath
  • Reduces bleeding
  • Is free of artificial colors or flavors
  • Has an SLS-free option
  • Wipes out sulfur compounds that are directly related to periodontal disease
  • Contains cavity fighting xylitol and fluoride
  • Supports your periodontal patients
  • Is safe for porcelain and composite restorations
  • Is NOT sold in retail stores
  • Tastes so good your patients will be hooked!

Well, if YOU haven’t…your patients have. And they’re going to be asking you about it because it’s been in the news A LOT lately.

In the last few months the entire Oxyfresh dental line has been featured on the Today ShowUSA Today, and numerous magazines and professional journals. Oh and it was included in the Oscars’ goodie bags, too. There’s been a lot of buzz about these fantastic products and how much folks love them. But its actually NOT a new product. In fact, Oxyfresh has been going strong for over 20 years and they’re here to stay.

Consumers are finally hearing about these products and their going to ask you. So, why not take this opportunity to share something special with them. The gift of healthier gums and the confidence that comes with knowing they can have fresh breath forever.

This is the only line that has the active ingredients to both fight cavities and eliminate those nasty volatile sulfur compounds. Our patients ask us every day what products we recommend. So what do you say? Why send them to the stores when they could be buying professional quality products from YOU-visiting your office regularly and building a relationship.

Go ahead and go to Oxy Dental to take a look at the Oxyfresh line. Click the following links to view the Today Show segment and view the USA Today article. And if you’re interested in some extra 1ncome, email me about the “Colleague Referral Program”.

Are you sharing your brownies?


Imagine going to a party for which everyone was asked to bring a desert. You arrive and proudly place your dish on the serving table. Then you start by choosing a taste of several goodies and complementing all the talented cooks that have contributed. What would you think if someone arrived with a dish of delicious looking brownies but they kept them in their lap and wouldn’t share with anyone? Brownies are my favorite desert, so I’d be disappointed and think of that person as selfish and odd.

So my question for you is “Are you sharing your brownies”? Every time you attend a CE course, read an article, learn a new dental or general health statistic or fact, you’re collecting pieces of valuable information that your team, your patients and your colleagues want to you share. If you keep that to yourself, you’re essentially refusing to share your ‘brownies’.

Whether it’s in the form of marketing, educating your patients or speaking to your colleagues, keeping your knowledge and talents to yourself is being stingy with what you know.  It is our obligation to be continuous learners and a resource for up-to-date diagnosis, treatment and health information.

Here are a few ways you can happily share your ‘brownies’:

•    Bring new information and knowledge to your morning huddles to share with your team
•    As you’re caring for your patients share with them valuable, pertinent information about new blood pressure standards, advances in periodontal science, and new products for instance
•    Speak to your local professional association about what you’ve learned
•    Write a monthly newsletter to educate your patients of updates in your services and continuing education you’ve completed
•    Post what you’ve learned on dental online communities or by writing articles
•    Proudly market your practice by letting your community know about the services and care you offer
•    Publish (with permission) testimonials from your patients on your newsletters and website

Give everyone around you the opportunity to share in your talents and the high level knowledge you’ve acquired. It makes the ‘party’ that much more fun!

Isn’t he just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

Isn’t he just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I was so excited when I got this onesie in the mail from one of my fantastic clients, Drs. Rudy and Mark Braydich. I couldn’t wait to put it on Andrew.
We highlighted team Braydich several months ago and we’ve just posted their story on our website. Click here to check it out.

This has been a very productive week here at Inspired Hygiene!  We just signed a new coaching client this week and I was interviewed by Dr. David Madow for the Madow Brothers Audio Series.  We completed several 5 Point Hygiene Analysis Reports for clients and uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars of untapped hygiene profits. So exciting!!

Don’t miss this month’s High Performance Hygiene Mastermind Special Topic Call.
Stay inspired!

3 Steps to Increase Production through Hygiene in 2010


Has your hygiene department production flat-lined? Are you under-utilizing your hygienists’ skills for observation and assessment and their ability to connect with your patients. Now is the time to change all that. You’ll be blown away to see how some simple changes can create more than $100K in additional production next year.

Here’s the bottom line: If you could increase hygiene production by $150/day or just $19/hour, 2 hygienists can increase their annual production total by almost $60,000!

If those same 2 hygienists each enrolled at least $1000/week in restorative treatment, that boosts your production by $96,000. Together, that’s over $150,000 in increased production for your practice. I’m not going to leave you hanging. I’ll tell you how to get there and it’s really not that hard.

Step 1- Pump Up Perio! I preach this every other month and I won’t be quitting anytime soon. The fact is that if two hygienists enroll just 10% of their current patients into active perio therapy and then perio maintenance, hygiene production will increase by $60-70K in the first year. You better believe their are more than 10% of your “prophy” patients that have perio disease right now.

Step 2- Empower your hygienists to help you enroll restorative. Remember: The first step is to spend time educating your team on your treatment philosophy and get all Docs in your office on the same page, too. Enrolling $1000/wk out of each hygiene operatory is very conservative. The trick is, those patients have to actually schedule that treatment for those dollars to show up.

Step 3-Financial Arrangements and Follow-up! Every patient that is presented with either perio treatment or restorative treatment should never leave your office without a written and signed financial arrangement. If you don’t have a financial arrangement form, create one. Make this Priority #1 for the new year. Patients that are confident say YES. Patients that are confused say NO. Make it clear how you make it easy for them to pay. Make it clear what portion of the fee they are responsible for and when it’s due. Then follow-up! If the patient isn’t ready to schedule that day, then put them on your follow-up list and ask for their permission to call in 2- 3 wks, and then DO IT!

Bonus Step 4- Share this with your team! Talk with your hygienists about what you’d like to see happen in 2007 and then support them in accomplishing it. Give them the support they need to develop and implement a perio protocol and make technology accessible so they can use it for perio charting, taking intra-oral photos, etc. AND, share the increase. How can you share the growth with your team next year? Implement a plan for a Team Bonus, Profit Sharing or Team Trips. These are just a few of the ways you can acknowledge your team for their dedication to you and your patients.

Let Go and Let Them


We’ve all heard the term “Let go and let God”.  For sure, I have to remind myself of that mantra from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that when you hover or micromanage your team, even less gets done? You’re all busy tripping over each other and it becomes a power struggle between you and your team.

I recently worked with a young dentist in Florida who was having this exact problem. He just couldn’t understand why his hygiene team wasn’t excited about their potential to create a powerful, productive, service-oriented department. He has tried and tried to tell them how to do it.  They knew he was in control and he wasn’t ready to let go of the reins long enough to give them room to “step up”.

Well, with the help of his PDA practice coach he realized it was time for him to step up as a strong leader and then step aside. I coached him to set up very clear performance and service expectations for his hygiene team.  He created a system for them to create their own pay increase as related to the growth of the department and told them he would support them with whatever they need. Now he’s done “telling” them what to do and what they’re doing wrong.

Guess what? His hygienists are really excited. They’re determined to grow hygiene and they have some skin in the game as motivation.

I’ve just finished reading a great book called “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader” by Mark Sanborn. It’s a quick read and has some very practical tips for growing leaders within your team.

In the book, he quotes Erwin McManus, a community leader working with kids in LA. “We spend so much time worrying about our kids (team) being good…that we often forget to invite them to be great”.

Sanborn goes on to define true leadership as “an invitation to greatness that we extend to others.”  There is a catch, though, he says. “We can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t extend an invitation we haven’t already accepted”.

That’ll give us something to think about…

Looking for some Inspiration?

As you read this, I’m kicking off a workshop day with a new client in Georgia. Another example of ‘Small Town Success’.  I’m telling you, between the backroads and baggage claim, I’m going to write a book about it one day.
I’m always blown away by what these teams accomplish despite some challenging economic times in small towns and rural areas. And this month’s Inspired Team is no exception. Scroll down to see what Abbeville Dental has done in just a few short weeks.
I think this quote by Wayne Dyer says it all.
“When you’re inspired, what once seemed difficult,
you now feel compelled to do.”

I am so excited to share with you the success of one of our private coaching clients.  The team at Abbeville Dentistry in Lubbock, TX is rockin’!  I am blown away by their dedication to each other and to their patients’ health.

In just 4 weeks after my first in-office workshop, they have increased their perio percentage by over 30%, increased hygiene production by more than $50/hour and the doctors are sharing the growth with the team through a new bonus program.

I have to tell you that the team at Abbeville was already doing so much RIGHT. Their perio percentage was already over 30% (excellent by any standards) but they hadn’t tapped into some opportunities for care that were hiding in their practice.

We uncovered the opportunities, brought them together as a team and they have just taken off.  I want to thank them for stepping up in a big way and never letting their fears hold them back. Way to go Abbeville! You ROCK!

Stay Inspired,
Inspired Hygiene

What are you getting out of that conference?


We’re now in the midst of convention season. You and your team are probably planning a trip to a meeting in your region and you want to make the most of it. Traveling to conventions can be an excellent opportunity to learn as well as have some quality time building relationships with your team.

While you do want to have fun, I bet learning is your primary objective for these trips. Here are 4 steps to getting the most out your next dental conference.

Figure out the why

Why are you going? Your first answer may be to get your CE for the year. But I want you to think a little deeper than that. Have you heard about a new product or procedure that you’d like to learn about? Take a look at the schedule of courses ahead of time and plan which ones you’ll attend.

Think about how you’ll implement what you learn. If you’re going to learn more about Risk Assessment, for instance, do a little research and find a couple articles to read before the seminar. This will allow you to have a basic knowledge of the topic and hear different points of view. How will this new knowledge make a difference in the way you practice? Just think about it and look for answers throughout the program, making notes along the way.

Go In Prepared

Before hitting the exhibit halls, create a list of products or equipment you want to check out. Break up into groups of 2 or 3 to ‘shop’ the hall and tackle your list. Give the vendors a chance to educate you on their product and don’t be afraid to kindly question its use in real practice. Figure out how you’ll use it to make your job easier and deliver better care. Again, arming yourself with a little information before you go will help you to ask the right questions.

If there are large purchases you’re considering, set up, in advance, meetings at the convention with several reps in the same category of the product or equipment you’re considering. This way you don’t have to fight the crowds and you can get the time and information you need to make the best decision.


At the end of each day, plan a time to re-group with your team or a few colleagues if you’re going solo. Dedicate the first 30-45min to discuss what you learned or what new products you discovered. Report the estimated cost of implementing if you can and how it will improve efficiency and service.

Have each group of 2-3 report their findings to the group. Then assign one person in each group to be responsible for following through on the new ideas once you return back to the office.

Create your action plan

Before you return home to your busy work life, set aside and hour or two to create an action list based on what you learned at the conference. Note what action you’ll take-order product, implement new diagnostic or operative techniques. Determine who will be accountable for moving it forward and a date by when the action will be taken.

On a sheet of paper, draw 3 columns:

What? Who? By When?

Take this back to the office, take action and you’ll have a return on your convention investment like never before.

Stay Inspired,
Inspired Hygiene