How to Boost Your Productivity as an RDH

Making a profit as a private dental office can be a touchy subject. There’s a fine line drawn between recommending a product someone can benefit from and selling a product because there’s money to be made. The last thing you want to do is making your patient feel uncomfortable because you are always sale-sy.

I promise you there is an easier way and I am going to show you how in 3 easy steps. However before I map this out I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with making profit. It is not a dirty word. You work in a business and ultimately you need to be paid, instruments need to be bought, the rent needs to be taken care of. The only way you should feel uneasy selling is if you do not believe in what you are recommending.

Step 1: Know that very few people are perfect with their oral care

I have only ever had one single patient who came in for their cleaning and did not have a single particle of plaque or a single area of inflammation. He had never had a cavity and was 40 years old. Guess what he had…I’ll wait, guess. Severe recession from brushing and flossing so hard multiple times per day. What could I recommend to this patient? (We aren’t talking about patient education right now.)

  • Soft power toothbrush that indicates when he is brushing too hard
  • Water Pik so he could lay off the hard flossing or at least reduce string floss to once per day
  • Mouth Guard to protect from abfraction since roots are now exposed and being abraded by brushing

The moral here is that even though his oral hygiene was impeccable, he had other areas of concern. It is important to identify how the patient could benefit, how would they know what to do in these cases otherwise?

Step 2: Know what you have to offer

I’ve worked at offices that have had way too many products to keep track of and others that lack even the most basic profitable products. The important thing is that you know what you have. If you work in an office that offers many different products, find your favorite few and recommend those.

In the most basic office, it is still likely you will offer fluoride, sealants, and mouth guards. This is already a great way to start since this covers many problems our patients are facing. I know you think selling fluoride treatments or sealants to an adult is a hard sell but, do you believe in it’s action? Do you believe the products do what they are made to do?

If you do, you don’t need to sell them. You need to tell the patient what you know and how it’ll help them. The product will sell itself if the patient is knowledgeable about it and believes it will help them. Did your patient come in with calculus or plaque in a certain area? Well that plaque is acidic and causing demineralization on their teeth. The fluoride treatment can help to introduce those minerals back into the enamel to remineralize.

Obviously you don’t have to say what I just wrote above or believe in the products the way I do. I’m just asking that you find products that you believe in and think about why they work and why they will help this particular patient.

Step 3: Make it natural and make it true

How do I even make a recommendation sound natural and not forced or like a sales person?

It takes practice to be honest. This is especially true for people you have already built a relationship with because you don’t want to feel scripted with them. However they trust you and you are a professional whether you see it like that or not. For me, I say it like I see it. If a patient is presenting with calculus on their lower anteriors or spots of demineralization, I’m going to tell them what I see. Then I’m going to tell them what I think they should do about it. Here’s what I would say:

“Marlene, I know that you always get build up here and you do your best at flossing it. You’re doing a good job reducing the tartar build up since the last time I saw you but the build up has an acidic quality to it and is causing this area to demineralize. I think I would honestly recommend a fluoride treatment. We really need to give this area a nice dose of minerals to help strengthen it back up.

I’ve also had the patient that’s totally new to me and whose last hygienist never spoke about these recommendations. Here’s what I would say to this person:

“Marlene, did your last hygienist ever speak about how acidic this area of plaque build up is? I think it may benefit you if you tried a fluoride treatment to add the minerals back in this area. What I mean by this is that the plaque here is hard to reach and so it builds up and sits there. This causes the minerals to be broken down. The fluoride treatment would give you a good dose of minerals to help this area out and prevent a cavity.”

When the doctor comes in I usually tell them my recommendation so that they can reinforce that this is a beneficial thing to receive. After the doctor leaves I simply ask: Did you want me to do that fluoride treatment for you?

Some Fluoride FAQ’s to troubleshoot with

How long does it take? Oh not long at all, like 20 seconds.

Will my insurance cover it? Usually insurance doesn’t cover it for adults but it’s (tell them price) and worth every cent.

How much is it? (Tell them price, don’t be afraid to report to your employer if patients are finding this too expensive)

Is it safe? Absolutely! Its a topical application so you’re not ingesting it plus it’s suspended in a varnish so it’s meant to stick on the teeth and not be swallowed.

Why is it important to boost your productivity?

Some offices will offer bonuses or incentives on sales. That’s the first reason. We want more money and we want the practice to make more money! We need our jobs and our jobs need us. Most of all though, our patients won’t benefit from what they don’t know. These products weren’t made for no reason. These products were made for specific purposes.

Imaging being so frustrated because every time you go to the dentist, they find a new cavity? There are tons of reasons people can continually get tooth decay including medications they need to take. Letting them know there are are several options out there for them is very valuable especially when you can provide this service to them in office.

To finish off this post, I focuses heavily on fluoride but I will list more ideas on boosting production:

  1. Sealants
  2. Mouth Guard
  3. Whitening Tray
  4. Whitening Treatment
  5. Hygiene products you sell in office
  6. 1 More cleaning per year especially when the patient rapidly forms tartar or has underlying medical condition
  7. Antibacterial Adjunct Therapy
  8. Localized SRP especially when pocket and bleeding at or over 5mm seen after 6 months and after patient education
  9. Some patients may need Fluoride treatment more often than 1x or 2x per year
  10. When you have a cancellation or open block be aware of patients who are retired or may like to be called when there is a cancellation

Bonus: When booking your patient’s next appointment in the room, book them 6 months and 2 weeks out. This way you have time to move them sooner if you have a cancellation.

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