I’m a big advocate of same-day sealants.
When possible, place sealants the same day they’re diagnosed since sealants are the #1 canceled or failed appointment.
We live in an express-lane, fast-paced on-the-go world. People are busy. It’s hard for parents to get their children here. So part of getting them to say ‘Yes’ to move forward is saying,
“Hey we know how busy you are. We will do everything we can to get these taken care of while you’re here today.”
Our goal is same-day preventive procedures. The day sealants are diagnosed, in a perfect world, is the day they’re sealed.
Now you might think,
“This sounds good. But we only schedule 30 minutes for our kids. We just can’t possibly work that in.”
Sometimes things that should be simple can become complicated.
Here’s our way around the complications:
- Planning ahead will help you be able to provide same-day sealants. Have sealant setups in each operatory ready to go.
- 10 Ziploc baggies is all it takes.
- Put anything you’ll need to use for sealants that isn’t in your normal setup in those baggies.
- The moment you see potential for sealants all you have to do to get setup is open the drawer and pull out the baggie. Now you’re ready to go.
- You also want easy access to a curing light (so if you don’t already have that, you need to get it
Saving Valuable Minutes
Half the time wasted in dentistry is running around trying to find what is needed to get a procedure done.
If you set it up in advance and have it in each hygiene operatory, you’ll save minutes each time.
Radios are a quick and easy investment that can make all the difference in the world in communication amongst your team.
You put a little earbud in your ear, clip a microphone to your jacket and slide the radio pack in your lab jacket pocket.
Radios make a huge difference with same-day sealants.
If you don’t have a curing light in your operatory, all you have to do is grab your lapel and say, “Hey can someone bring a curing light to Hygiene 3?”
You don’t have to get up and leave to go find what you need.
Begin the discussion with the child’s parent at the beginning of the appointment. Too often we wait until the end—after we’ve had the exam and know what needs to be done. If we do that, we’re out of time. There’s no time to do the sealant.
Again if you have a radio, as soon as you notice the opportunity for sealants, it’s as simple as, “Hey can you have Mom step back to hygiene?”
Someone then brings Mom back to where the kid is so you can say,
“Hey, we’ve got great news. We’ve got eight teeth that can be protected with a sealant. I know how busy you are and how hard it is for you to get them here. So we will bend over backwards to see if we can get these taken care of for you while you’re here today.”
In the past, you may have put the sealants on the doctor’s schedule because there are certain things he wants to have in place. But that’s not always necessary.
Begin the discussion with the parent at the beginning of the appointment and talk about the potential for sealants. Then what usually happens is mom will ask, “How much does it cost and does my insurance cover it?”
At that moment, it’s a fairly simple matter. With the radio, let the front office know you need a quick estimate. If you have computers in the operatory, it’s a fairly simple to click on the teeth that need sealants to create a treatment plan. Then you go over that with mom.
While all that goes on, do the prophy. Usually my last comment to Mom is,
“They will go over the estimate with you up front and she will let me know what you decide.”
It’s not like we’re pushing the patient to have that service done today. It’s just an opportunity for them to have it done if they so choose.
Using the Diagnodent to Give Patients What They Want
It may come as a surprise but patients prefer to avoid having their teeth drilled.
That means the more you can do to prevent them from having to sit on the other end of that drill, the more they appreciate it.
They appreciate opportunities to choose more prevention.
That’s why the Diagnodent is such a valuable tool. The Diagnodent is not about us. Nor is it about finding numbers we need.
We’re all taught to recognize warning signs, and doctors were taught to diagnose decay, without the Diagnodent.
But the Diagnodent is a powerful tool that patients find fascinating. It gives a real number to what we see, that they can relate to and understand.
We finally have a way to prove there is a problem—not just say, “We see a problem”—especially when you use it with Intraoral Camera.
Sealants for Adults
For example, many hygienists think adult patients won’t accept sealants.
But they do.
What we’ve found is, when you present them as an elective option, where it’s optional and completely up to the patient, adults accept sealants all the time.
This is especially true when you use the Diagnodent.
As soon as that warning sound starts, the patient usually goes, “Uh-oh.” They can tell there’s a problem—especially if you have them hold the unit.
You can then say,
“You’re right. Something is starting in that groove. We have two options. We can wait for it to get worse, and put a filling there. Or we can place a sealant and, hopefully, prevent it from getting worse.”
You’d be surprised at how many patients are interested in placing a sealant to prevent it from getting worse.
If you use the Diagnodent on every single adult, you’ll be amazed at how many sealants you will do.
When people ask why you haven’t offered this before, the answer is, “New research shows…”
- “New research shows that sealants are effective on children and adults.”
- “The ADA supports this service as a good benefit for children and adults.”
It Gets Worse
Because there is this exposed groove, something has started. We have two choices. Place the sealant, or wait until it gets worse and do a filling.
It may take a number of years to get worse. We don’t know how quickly it’s going to get worse. Chances are, they’re aren’t going to ask you that question though.
One of the main reasons I love sealants is because it’s in hygiene, not on the doctor’s schedule, so it’s a nice boost to productivity.
It also protects patients’ teeth, which is great.
What if you were to add, on average, four sealants a day, per hygienist?
It would be a $35,000 increase for each hygienist.
Also, chances are there will be days where you do a lot more than four sealants.