Hygienists who hurt

“Dear Chris,
When dealing with other team members I am always careful about “treading on their toes”.

Everyone is a professional in their own right, and as such I believe they are entitled to their own opinions on the best way to work and handle patients.

I note that coming from up north you are much blunter than me!

My question is how to talk to the hygienists without causing offence?

One of them has been practicing as long as me, but we get a lot of patients complain that the hygienists do not let them rest during treatment.

By that I mean that their scalings are relentless, and they do not stop enough to let patients close now and again to rest their jaw muscles.

Please can you let me know your thoughts?”

An organisation has brand standards.

Hilton have brand standards for:

  • the way they answer the phone
  • the way they check guests in
  • the way they clean and change the rooms
  • the way they run the restaurant
  • the conferencing
  • concierge
  • everywhere and everything
  • nothing left to chance
  • a franchise system

every department has brand standards and a manual – everyone signs up to the brand standards – if you don’t want to work that way – work somewhere else.

Brand standards relate to:

  • Performance – the way we do things
  • Attitude – the way we behave towards each other, the suppliers and the customers

In dentistry.

Its the same.

So if a hygienist is hurting/stressing people – you need to bring Him/Her in line with your brand standards.

Which means they have to exist!

That they have been created in agreement with the team, accepted by all – and then continuously monitored.

And EVERYONE is included – the fact that a hygienist/therapist/associate/travelling specialist may be a self-employed sub-contractor makes zero difference.

BUT – we also need to establish whether the hygienists are rushing because:

  • they don’t have enough time?
  • they need nurse assistance?

Your business, your brand standards, your call.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.