DOTS – Preventive Lines and the Big Picture

Top 5 tips for the young hygienist.


(1) Practice what you preach. Don’t forget that YOU are the standard so maintaining your own mouth is incredibly important. Be a role model for your patients, don’t breathe coffee breath on them.

(2) Posture. Taking the time to make sure you are comfortable and sitting upright is essential for the longevity of your career. Stretching between patients helps with joint suppleness as do regular yoga/pilates classes.

(3) Listen. Take the time to listen to patients, peers and colleagues. The feedback you get from these sources allows you to hone and shape your working practice.

(4) Never stop learning. Jump on any opportunity to learn, whether it be a new skill or gleaning a more in-depth knowledge of a subject you are passionate about.

(5) Be the team. Your nurse is worth their weight in gold, this is the person who helps you cope when the pressure is on. Show your appreciation for their skills and reward them for a job well done.


We believe prevention is universally better than cure. It is the ethos that underpins every part of our care at Dentistry on the Square. Each patient has a tailor-made preventive programme.


Changing Behaviour

Behaviour change is the single biggest challenge that we face as dental professionals. I find the most effective way is through dialogue with the patient, ascertaining their motivational requirements and acting on them. Demonstrations are a useful method and the Oral-B demonstration unit is a really effective in-surgery aid for explaining toothbrushing technique.

I advocate evidence-based dentistry at DOTS and therefore recommend oscillating-rotating power toothbrushes such as the Oral-B Professional Triumph 5000. Both our staff and patients love this brush as it gives them an ‘idiot’s guide to cleaning their teeth’ plus I think we all secretly love the little happy face at the end of two minutes.


Patient pathway at DOTS

Stage 1 – Patient welcome/booking

Ensure patient welcoming is with a smile

Ideally, answer the phone within two rings

Get patient details and contact address and numbers. Ask how they heard about the practice, if referral from existing patient, log the patients name

Ask is there anything specific the patient is looking for? Put on pop-up note so that the dentist knows what the patients requirements are

Book appointments and advise patients who they will see at their first/recall appointment

For all new patients, ask them to attend 10 minutes early as relevant paperwork has to be completed before going into their appointment

Reminders of appointments will be sent by text two days before the appointment and email reminder will also be sent.


Stage 2 – Treatment room

If not seen within five minutes, the dentist should apologise to waiting patients

If running late with previous patients, keep reception updated of your progress

The dentist is to collect the patient and introduce themselves with a handshake

Usher patients to the treatment room and introduce to the nurse

Discuss medical history and what is going to happen at that appointment

Exam, X-rays, treatment plan (do all of this with the patient sitting upright in chair)

Carry out patient exam/X-rays

Sit patient back up in the chair and discuss the treatment plan

Options and investments (not costs)

DVD glasses on all appointments over 30 minutes

Ask patient if they have any questions and if they understand what’s been discussed

Print two treatment plans/estimates

Update patient notes with clinical findings, what was discussed and options given. Ask if the patient fully understood all options and investment (costs)

Escort patient back to the desk

Introduce patient to receptionist and advise receptionist a treatment plan has been printed


Stage 3 – Surgery to reception handover

Dentist to escort patient to the reception desk

Introduce receptionist to the patient

Reception to write details of the above down so that if interrupted they have all the details and do not need to refer to the dentist again

Reception staff to drive and control the appointment book

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