This week's blog is brought to you by Liisa Moore, RDH, QA Coach and Ortho Presenter!
We all know that no two dental hygienists are the same. Yes we all went to school, and have a governing body, but with all the different specialties within the field of dentistry there is no such thing as a 'know it all' when it comes to dental hygiene.
I have worked the majority of my career in an orthodontic office and am very confident in stating that I have extensive knowledge in the field of orthodontics. That being said I would never enter a perio clinic and start questioning or trying to give advice to the dental hygienist there about what treatment plan or instruments they should be using. We are all in this profession together, and I never had a problem sharing my knowledge as we are always learning and trying to advance our skills. With that, here is a short list of confessions I have from working in specialty offices.
If you don’t know….ask!
Is there a client in your chair that has an orthodontic appliance you have never seen before? A client you sent for a graft but yet still has not been done yet? Ask the client first but be aware of your wording. “I see you started treatment with Dr. Ortho since the last time we saw you, how are you liking your new appliance? OR “I see the referral we sent to Dr. Perio has been received by their office, do you have an appointment booked with them for your graft procedure? If the client gives a vague or unsure answer, call the referring office and ask to speak to a dental hygienist or other staff member for clarification. Try to avoid verbiage like “I’ve never seen this appliance before”, “it looks a little too big/too small”, “have you asked Dr. Ortho why he used this appliance and not the more traditional one?” We are all partners in client care and using this type of language around the client can leave them questioning their trust in their other provider.
Handle with Care
When treating clients in orthodontic treatment please be careful as some orthodontic appliances are very delicate. If there is an area that you are unable to treat properly due to an orthodontic appliance, contact the ortho office and ask to have it removed if the treatment is urgent or if it is a treatment that can wait, ask when the appliance will be removed and make note to complete the treatment once the appliance is out. Same rules apply when treating areas that have fresh sutures, packing, or surgical sites. Be mindful and try not to unintentionally tug or pull on them as you do not want to remove them earlier than what the referring doctor wishes.
If you do happen to break an orthodontic appliance while scaling or damage a surgical site, inform your client and recommend that they return to their specialist's office to have it repaired and or examined. Leaving an orthodontic appliance damaged can result in extending time in treatment, and disturbing surgical sites can lead to unwanted infection. “You had a moderate amount of calculus around your bonded lingual retainer this appointment. While I was completing your treatment plan some of the orthodontic cement attached to your wire came loose. I was able to treat the area and remove the calculus build up however you will need to see your orthodontist to have the cement replaced. Since you are prone to develop moderate calculus in that area perhaps while you are at your orthodontist office you could inquire about other retention options.”
Your clients might be annoyed that they need to make another appointment, at another office, however if you choose your language properly your client will see that you only have their best interest in mind and want them to get quality care from the proper professional.
Want to learn more about working in a specialty office? Call the office and ask to shadow the hygienist working in ortho, perio, surgical or a restorative hygienist to see what their days are like. Or join me for my next course Orthodontics 101 for the Dental Hygienist to learn more about all things ortho! See below for both theory only and experiential (hands-on) learning options!
Thank you Liisa for this week's blog!
Thank you for reading and have a great week ahead! Please take a look below for what is coming up!
Kathleen Bokrossy, RDH President