An Open Letter to Dental Patients: 10 Requests from Dental Hygienists to Create an Efficient Appointment

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Dear Dental Patient,

I appreciate that you chose me to be your dental hygienist! Thank you! I have a few thoughts I would appreciate sharing that will allow your appointment and my schedule to flow like a symphony…

  1. I have one hour to conduct a medical/dental history, take necessary x-rays, chart everything that needs to be updated, perform your necessary treatment, and oral hygiene instruction, while often waiting several minutes for your exam by the dentist.  Please do your best to be timely, so I am able to provide you with the optimum care you deserve!
  2. If you are running late, give the office a call so we might be able to adjust a few things around with our schedule.
  3. You broke a tooth and want to get it fixed at your hygiene appointment? Please understand that your hygienist is the dental professional who will help you maintain your dental health. He/she, unfortunately will not be able to fix this situation for you. Just let us know ahead of time, and we might possibly be able to do both on the same day.
  4. You are a new patient? Did you bring your completed forms with you? No?!?! This will now eat up approximately 15 minutes or more of your appointment time and take away precious treatment time you deserve.
  5. If you take medications, please carry an updated list in your purse or wallet, as this helps save time during your appointment. Unfortunately, there are many shapes and colors of pills, and we may not be able to identify what medication you are taking via these descriptors. Ultimately, knowing exactly what you take will allow us to best treat you at your dental appointment(s) in an efficient and effective manner.
  6. Yes, it is recommended that you have x-rays today! No, we did not just do that last time! I know! Time does fly when you are having fun! Let’s avoid losing valuable time and get started with them as quickly as possible.
  7. When the hygienist asks you if you have had any problems with your teeth, please let them know “all things tooth related.” We need this information to take the appropriate x-rays for the dentist. If you wait until the dentist arrives to divulge this information, we now spend more time setting up x-ray equipment and taking the x-ray(s), possibly for the second time, which may result in having to wait on the dentist to return again to evaluate the images.
  8. Please, please, please leave your children at home with a sitter, if possible. Having unnecessary distractions on your part, and mine makes me less efficient.
  9. Please keep your cell phone silenced and put away unless you have a potential emergency that you are anticipating with your ailing parent or super sick child. Having to adjust to your internet surfing while I am rendering professional dental treatment will not allow me the capability to give you the best care possible. It also puts me in a crazy, contorted shape as I try to maneuver my body to adjust to your distracting phone that is inhibiting my field of vision. For the record, once upon a time, people did not have traveling phones, and voicemail was a real thing you used to answer your phones when you were unavailable. Right here in my dental chair, you are unavailable because you are caring for yourself, which is vital in the busy world we live in.
  10. All in all, please adhere to your maintenance appointments with your hygienist, as this will make the flow of the appointment much easier. There will be less to update, and your hygiene treatment will usually be more straightforward than when you wait three years to return for your periodontal maintenance appointment following periodontal therapy. This is simply too much to ask of a one-hour appointment, when you should have, in fact, been in approximately a dozen times since that treatment.

Most hygienists are busting moves day in and day out! They are expected to do much in a little amount of time. By following these simple requests, your hygienist is being shown a level of respect while they respect you in return. Thank you for taking the time to review this information.

Sincerely,

Your Rock Star Hygienist

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:

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Angela Grover, RDH
Angela L. Grover, BASDH, has been practicing dental hygiene since 1996. Angela received her AAS in dental hygiene from Central Community College in Hastings, Nebraska in 1996; she received her BAS in dental hygiene from Community College of Denver May 2018. Angela is a dental hygiene educator at Iowa Western Community College, where she is actively involved in community implementation projects with her students. In addition, Angela and her students volunteer for Nebraska and Iowa Mission of Mercy outreach clinics, as well as an outreach called One World, where they provide care a few times a month through Creighton University’s School of Dentistry to patients in need. Angela is a member of ADHA. She lives near Omaha, Nebraska.