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Hygiene in a hand basket

Sept. 1, 2010
Dentists harbor hellish thoughts of their hygienists trying to sell anything, even whitening.

Editor's note: For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: whitening, hygiene heaven, healthy mouth baseline, fulfillment, protocol, Gary Kadi.

Dentists harbor hellish thoughts of their hygienists trying to sell anything, even whitening. There is a simple and direct way for dentists to to turn their "gum gardeners" into "whitening worshipers." Most people hate to sell things, but everyone likes to buy. People go to dental offices to look better and function without pain; however, patients often walk out with only a cleaning.

Support your hygienists’ shift from selling to having their patients buy without doing "wallet biopsies." Whether they present in-office, take home, or OTC whitening products, think about taking the new triple-win approach with your hygiene team. Instead of telling them to sell whitening (notice I didn’t say bleaching), educate them in helping their patients have whiter teeth, which will provide them with increased self-esteem and help them bring sexy back. This can lead to enhanced relationships, finding a great job, selling more widgets, or attracting their dream date.

When hygienists create more perceived value in the minds of their patients, the practice wins, and when you win, you share the value they created for the practice and the patient.

Forcing hygienists to do something never works. If people do not internally buy in and your directive does not fit with their beliefs and purpose, they do not consistently follow through. Instead, you are having hygienists tie the whitening presentation into why they became hygienists in the first place.

By having your hygienist – the second most influential position in the eyes of your patients behind your assistant – originate the conversation for treatment, he or she builds trust on a high level. The hygienist will not think he or she is helping you pay for your new house in the pricey gated community.

Five Steps to Hygiene Heaven

▲ Have your hygienists establish a purpose for their work/department. This shifts their focus from selling things such as whitening to providing priceless value for a better life. Fulfillment and dollars come from providing value. Watch the positive changes when your hygienists shift from selling to helping patients get more of what they want. Examples of hygiene purpose: zero bleeding, total health and wellness, or every patient looking and feeling great.

▲ Make a list of protocols that should happen in each one-hour hygiene visit. One of the most important tools when introducing something new to hygienists is to explain the change to them. If they understand how your suggestion will help them and their patients, they will take action without you forcing it. Example: If you want to increase your whitening stats, then include a shade check on each hygiene visit as a way for patients to ask about their own shade. Show hygienists how they will win by getting a bonus for each whitening they help a patient purchase. (Notice I didn’t say sell to.)

▲ Establish a Healthy Mouth Baseline™ that allows all team members to have a say and take ownership of the practice philosophy. Get it graphically designed, laminate it, and use it chairside to educate patients. Make white teeth part of a healthy, good looking smile.

▲ Use the PCS™ method when presenting to patients. PCS stands for Problem (stained teeth), Consequence (such as lack of self-esteem or a good relationship), and Solution (you will look great and have more fun with a bright white smile).

▲ Create a "triple-win" bonus where patients win – they get a bright, white smile, and the team wins personally, professionally, and financially.

Now, help your patients get their pearly "grills."

Gary Kadi, founder of NextLevel Practice, author, and international speaker, is globally recognized as the dental expert for profound results in the lives of dentists, dental teams, and their patients. Call (866) 926-0914, or visit

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