At dental practices across the country, proactive steps helped hygiene patients regain confidence post pandemic. Three of those success stories earned recognition this fall as part of the ‘In Good Hands’ contest presented by Benco Dental.
Read on to find out which three proactive steps made the difference, post pandemic, in regaining patient confidence at dental offices from Florida to Pennsylvania.
Step 1. Being ‘up front and honest’ with patients was crucial post pandemic.
Kathryn Finch, RDH, at Dr. William Padner’s office in Berwick, Pennsylvania explained there was no “grand gesture” that helped patients feel comfortable. The crucial element: Being “up front and honest”.
“I would love to say that there was some kind of grand gesture, or creative idea I had that got patients back into the hygiene chair. Truly, what it took to comfort our patients was simply being up front and honest about the measures we were taking to protect the public and ourselves.
While making calls to remind patients of their scheduled hygiene appointments, myself and the whole staff faced numerous questions. ‘Are you seeing patients?’ ‘Is everyone in the building masked?’
You could sense the fear in their voices, the apprehension they were feeling. Having known most of these patients for many years helped a lot when assuring them that we were doing everything in our power to protect them.” – Kathryn Finch, RDH, at the dental office of Dr. William Padner, Berwick, Pennsylvania
A hygienist for 14 years, Finch earned first place in the In Good Hands contest with her discussion of how she helped patients at the office of Dr. William Padner in Berwick, Pennsylvania, where she has worked for 13 of those years.
Step 2. Extra safety measures gave patients ‘an added comfort’. Education on the connection between oral health and overall systemic health assisted with a return to regular cleanings.
Lisa Little, CRDH, BSM, at Spring Hill Dental in Florida, said she felt like the “Back to the Future movie from the 80s” but extra measures taken gave patients “an added comfort”.
“Not only were we wearing our ‘full body armour spacesuits,’ we also have air purifiers in every treatment room, we have ESD machines (External Suction Devices) in every treatment room, especially hygiene, where aerosols are produced. We also take patient temperatures at the door prior to them coming into a clinical environment, and we have patients do a 60- second Peroxyl rinse, followed by washing their hands BEFORE ever sitting in the dental chair.” -Lisa Little, CRDH, BSM, Spring Hill, Florida
For Little, a Certified Registered Dental Hygienist since 1993, one of the favorite aspects of her career proved extremely helpful at Spring Hill Dental in Florida during the pandemic. Little said she finds educating patients on the importance of oral health very rewarding.
“In our office, we emphasized to patients the importance of their oral health and their overall systemic health. Most people have skipped one, or in some cases two, cleaning appointments for fear of potential exposure,” she said.
Little, who added that she feels privileged to have started in dentistry at a young age as a dental assistant, earned second place in the In Good Hands contest, presented by Benco Dental.
Step 3. Personal outreach to longtime patients reinforced a long commitment to patient safety and well being. Social media postings outlined upgraded infection control processes.
Tammy Roberts, a dental hygienist at Kramer, Shirley & Ditty, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania attributed successful interactions during Covid to rapport with patients.
“I believe our story begins pre-pandemic. We have always cherished the relationship with our patients, particularly as hygienists, and strive to maintain the kind of rapport with patients that builds trust and confidence in us and our practice. … We took intentional steps to build upon the goodwill we had established with our patients over many years. One proactive step was to invite our patients back by having the hygienists personally reach out to longtime patients with whom we had established, trusted relationships.” —Tammy Roberts, a dental hygienist at Kramer, Shirley & Ditty, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Roberts, who earned third place in the In Good Hands contest, presented by Benco Dental, added, “At the heart of our efforts was open and honest communication with our patients that reinforced our long commitment to safety and to their overall health and wellbeing. She noted that postings to the practice’s social media accounts outlined their upgraded infection control processes.
How did the dental teams know they were on the right track with patients, post-pandemic?
Ultimately, the return of patients to the dental chair, and their positive comments, confirmed dental teams were on the right track.
“I knew we were on the right track when (a patient) commented to me on her first return visit after the initial shutdowns, ‘I had no apprehensions about coming back, in fact I felt very comfortable because your office has always been very clean, even before COVID. It’s obvious to me you care deeply about the safety of your patients.’ ” — Tammy Roberts, a dental hygienist at Kramer, Shirley & Ditty, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Top three story submissions from dental hygienists earned them each a PRO-SYS® Hygiene Handpiece as part of the In Good Hands contest presented by Benco Dental. The contest, which took place in October, 2021 shines a light on hygienists who have helped patients regain confidence post-pandemic.