Purple IS My Favorite Color

“If you don’t check, how do you know what’s there?”  In the past, I asked this question to my dental hygiene students referring to the importance of annual (or more frequently depending on case type) periodontal charting.  I have since turned in my text books for training manuals and I ask the same question to the new hire hygienists that join the team only now, I’m not just referring to periodontal charting but also checking for biofilm (or plaque – the soft sticky stuff that makes your teeth feel fuzzy if you haven’t brushed in awhile).

Even after 10 years, I know I’m not perfect. I try so hard to give every patient 110% but I’m human and sometimes, 98% is all I have. And that’s where disclosing solution comes in handy.  (In a later blog I’ll talk about why I polish first and that comes in equally as handy as my trusty 2Tone.)  Like many of you, I see the same recare patients every six months and like many of you, I can predict with reasonable accuracy what the oral condition of those patients is going to be.  I’ve developed relationships with them – I know who their kids are, what they do for a living, and what they like to do in their spare time – my favorite patients tell me what books they’re reading 🙂 – and sometimes, during these appointments, we don’t spend enough time talking about their teeth.  Power toothbrushes (Oral B Genius purchased from your dentist) and fluoride varnish are going to be a conversation – I firmly believe in both; yes, even for my adult patients.  But what I sometimes lack is the education piece on WHY they’re important.

Enter Young’s 2Tone disclosing agent – great for adults and kids, new patients, prophy and perio, no history of decay or a restoration on every tooth – and the best part is:: it doesn’t stick around after the appointment!

◊Disclosing solution is an excellent visual to show your patient’s WHY they need to change their habits.  Encourage them to brush their teeth at the sink before you start, disclose their teeth, and WALA! Now, have them brush with your office’s preferred power toothbrush (Oral B offers F.R.E.E. test drives to offices that use their units – contact your rep for more information) and redisclose. Bing. Bang. Boom. Done.  (Ps. Although you won’t generally hear me harp on flossing during dental appointments – let’s face it, they’re either going to do it or they’re not and not much I’m going to say will change that – this works for flossing too.)

◊Can’t get parents to understand why sealants are important? Stain those occlusal surfaces bright purple and I’d venture a guess they change their tune.  If there are pit and fissures with biofilm, and we know that that age category is the ideal age for sealants, sometimes parents need to see what’s there to understand.  Prevention is more powerful than treatment and if cost is the main concern, showing them the difference between what they think is clean may help decrease the onset of decay.

◊It’s also, and more importantly in my opinion, an excellent checks and balances.  Remember when I said I want to give 110%? Disclosing solution allows me to do that.  First it was PURPLE and then – MAGIC – it was not!! We are nothing if not creatures of habit and little did I realize, I was consistently missing the distals of 13-15 and the lingual incisal third of 23-26 – I know, I still don’t understand it either.

◊In an office with more than one hygienist, I often hear my colleagues say that they have their own patients and their co-worker(s) have their own patients.  Personally, while I appreciate the sentiment, I prefer to share all my patients.  And when the hygienists I’m sharing with are in my office, disclosing solution gives a bit of piece of mind – the patient can have a level of confidence that no matter whom they see, the quality of their appointment doesn’t suffer and I can have a piece of mind that the patient is getting the same quality that I would provide … WIN-WIN!

◊For a very long time, I thought of fluoride as an age-based prescription.  After all these years, a bright lightbulb went off and I realized that insurance is why I thought of fluoride as age-based.  But in all actuality it’s a caries-risk prescription.  CAR/CAMBRA are a vital part of the dental appointment and most of us are completing the check-list mentally; even if we don’t realize we are.  Disclosing solution will show the nooks/cranies and sometimes the decalcification (early signs of decay or incipient lesions).  This is the visual I need to help patients understand that just because their insurance says they are too old for fluoride – that decay doesn’t care.

Going back to the basics has its merits and I think this is one of the best basics :o)  It takes so little time but has such a huge impact – on you, your patient, and usually on the practice.  I disclosed every patient for a solid 2 weeks and was very careful to notice the areas where I could improve.  I don’t disclose every patient now that I know where my trouble spots are but I make it a point to disclose regularly.  It’s not just for my benefit!  I also find it fun when a patient requests the product because they themselves are curious from their last appointment!

Does your office use disclosing solution?  What other checks and balances do you use? Thanks for stopping by today!

 

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