Bright lights, big city, and a big, big smile

Bright lights, big city, and a big, big smile

Slaine McGrath shares her journey into the world of EMS’ guided biofilm therapy as she prepares to open her own dental practice in Edinburgh.

What first attracted you to have guided biofilm therapy (GBT)?

Slaine: GBT treatment appealed to me because it doesn’t cause sensitivity. I have quite sensitive teeth and I’ve got generalised recession in my mouth from over-brushing over the years.

I always struggled with hygiene treatment – I find it really, really uncomfortable. I’d be sitting with my fists clenched throughout the whole treatment, so an alternative that wouldn’t cause that discomfort was very appealing.

How was your GBT treatment?

Slaine: I found the treatment to be revolutionary. To be able to sit through an entire treatment and watch something on TV or read a text message on my phone and not actually think about what was being done was really amazing.

I also have some veneers on three of my teeth from trauma when I was a child. I’m always anxious when a hygienist is working around them with a scaler that something’s going to scratch the surface, or a veneer will chip.

To know that it’s completely safe to have the treatment on the surface of the restorations made me feel a lot more comfortable.

Why did you decide to invest in an EMS Airflow for your practice?

Slaine: Because I have had such a positive experience myself with the treatment, and because the majority of care that we’ll be providing in my clinic in Edinburgh will involve cosmetic restorative treatment.

I do a huge amount of work with composite and porcelain, and I’m always wary of patients going off to see a hygienist if they’re not in my practice, in case that external hygienist damages the composite surface with their scaler.

So, knowing that I can refer all my patients to our hygienist to carry out the treatment and not damage any of the restorations is great.

Also, having the hygienist able to remove the staining from the surface using GBT takes pressure off my own diary.

In the past, I would need to see my patients every four to six months for stain removal on their composites, which, until now, I had never been confident allowing somebody else to do.

Now, having this system in my own practice and being able to refer for that will mean that I’ve got more time to see new patients and carry out treatments.

How important is that the whole team in trained in the GBT protocol?

Slaine: I think that it’s really important that the whole team is fully invested in the protocol for GBT, most especially the hygienist/therapist, of course.

The hygiene department has the potential to be a huge seller in the practice, and I think people often underestimate that.

Patients are seeing the hygienist every three or four, they build a really close relationship with them, and they’ll often listen to their advice, helping to promote other, appropriate treatments within the clinic.

And that works both ways; my patients have spent so much time and money having treatment that it’s in their best interests to keep it looking good and their mouth healthy. So, they want to be seeing a hygienist or therapist regularly to stay on top of that.

I do think the whole clinic being fully invested in it means that the uptake for treatments will be higher across the whole practice.

How important is the hygiene room in your practice?

Slaine:  I think the hygiene room is probably the most important room for a successful practice, because good oral hygiene, good oral health, is the foundation of everything else. Without good baseline oral health, we can’t start any cosmetic treatment.

Having the right person in that room working is really important, too. I like having somebody who’s strict on their patients and almost instils a little bit of fear, so that patients want their teeth to be perfect by the time they come back to the hygienist.

I know I feel that way myself when I go to see my hygienist – I want them to say, ‘Yes, all of your scores are zero or one at the very worst.’ And I want them to give me a round of applause and say, ‘You’ve done your job well.’

You always feel a little bit disheartened leaving when they say, ‘Oh, there’s a bit of calculus there.’ Or, ‘Oh, you’ve got lots of staining.’

So, I think having somebody that’s seeing them regularly, building a relationship, and that’s keeping everything stable, allows us to progress to further, more advanced treatments.

What advice would you offer to practices that are yet to embrace GBT?

Slaine: I would just recommend that they go ahead and get involved. As I said, I think it’s game changing. I think the patients absolutely love it.

I think the hygienists, certainly that I’ve been seeing and that I’ve worked with, are really, really enjoying working with it, and that can only be a positive.

The GBT protocol in eight simple steps:

  1. Assess – probe and screen every clinical case
  2. Disclose – make biofilm visible
  3. Motivate – raise awareness and teach
  4. Airflow – remove biofilm, stains and early calculus
  5. Perioflow – remove biofilm in >4 to 9 mm pockets
  6. Piezon No Pain – remove remaining calculus
  7. Check – make your patient smile
  8. Recall – a healthy patient equals a happy patient.

If you would like further details about what EMS has to offer dental professionals in the UK, please visit

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