I learned very early in my dental hygiene career that relationship-based dentistry is the key to building a practice of engaged, loyal clients. Engagement, with open authentic conversation weaved into the process, offers the opportunity to build trust and value into our professional relationships with our clients. In the long term, these clients tend to have more stable dentitions and show far more interest in finer dentistry—something I know we’d all prefer.
There is an entire science and theory around relationship-based practices but, using some small and uncomplicated moves, you can get started yourself with your very next client.
I worked in a periodontal setting for over half of my 30-year dental hygiene career. Being in the dental chair is not everyone’s happy place, so I had to be creative if I wanted my clients to be engaged during their appointment. I made it my mission to consistently build on our relationships at each visit so that they had a great experience.
I always gave my clients the opportunity during the conversation that preceded and followed the periodontal exam to express their concerns, oral health goals, and other needs. Asking clients about past experiences or saying "what can I do for you today that would make your visit more comfortable?" demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond, and support and serve them in the best way you can. This is all about engagement, connection and moving towards a relationship-based practice.
Being ‘engaged’ doesn’t necessarily mean your client is doing the talking. They could be simply listening and observing. I would start my appointments by providing a short explanation of what my client was going to hear during the exam, such as numbers and observations (bleeding, etc), assuring them that we would discuss everything once the exam was complete. This is the best way I know to plant the seeds of engagement. Then I would ask: "do you have any questions or concerns before we begin"?
Finally, you may have noticed that I’ve used the term ”bleeding” rather than “BOP”. We all want to offer information in ways that our clients understand. Acronyms and terminology tend to avoid the reality and may be damaging when we are attempting to earn the client’s trust.
What steps can you take towards creating an appointment opportunity for you and your clients to foster trust?
A dental hygienist for 30 years, Tracy Poirier is a trainer and Master Coach with WinTerra. Her writing has featured in numerous publications and she is passionate about inspiring dental professionals to become their best selves. She is currently working on a book titled 'The Indispensable Hygienist: Where the Good become Better and the Better become EXCELLENT!'