Happy National Dental Hygiene Month!

October 8, 2015

Over the years, there has been a movement to get the word ‘cleaning’ out the dental hygiene vernacular. Up until a few months ago, when I read the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, I’ve embraced that concept What changed my mind was the Heath brothers ideas on how to design messages that are understood, remembered, and have listing impact. As any of you who have tried to get people to floss or even come in regularly for visits, this is not easy. While there are several facets to designing ‘sticky messages’ there are two that made me re-think the ‘c’ word; simple and concrete. And what is more simple and concrete than getting your teeth cleaned.
Okay – stop groaning, and ask yourself this – is it the word cleaning that is bad or the word that often precedes it – that little ‘j’ word – ‘just’. Because I think anyone who works in a dental practice from the doctor to the RDH to the CDA and front desk administrators has said it at one time or another; it’s just a cleaning. Yet, we all know it is never ‘just a cleaning.’
Words matter, and perhaps none is more destructive to your practice than the word ‘just’ – cause hey, if it’s ‘just a cleaning’ then I’m sure you won’t mind if I ‘just reschedule’. We all want to make people feel comfortable and at-ease visiting us. Surely we can find a better way to do this than minimizing what we do with the word just. And no, words like only, simply, and merely are not acceptable substitutes.
There is no better time to stop saying ‘just’ than National Dental Hygiene Month. It won’t be easy; breaking bad habits never are. Support and help each other; look for words and phrases that build up your practice. Start noticing what works, and share the message. Not only will your patients benefit but it will make for a happier work environment too!

They’re here! My New Course Selection for 2015

August 28, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  My 2015 selection reflects some new courses as well as my most popular ones from 2014.  I strive to blend the skills from my dental hygiene and marketing careers to create courses that are though-provoking, solution-oriented, and engaging.

How to Reach Your Fullest Potential: Mastering the Dental Hygiene Process of Care:
Do you feel if you could practice to your fullest potential that you would be happier and the practice more successful? Patient loyalty isn’t tied to how fast someone cleans teeth. Instead, satisfaction is tied to the overall quality of the visit; the time, attention, and care given to individual needs and concerns. This course will raise confidence and empower you to embrace and employ the dental hygiene process of care for personal and professional success.

Practicing Smarter, Not Harder: Getting to Yes with Periodontal Patients
Do you have patients who just don’t seem to get it? Those who would benefit from periodontal therapy but somehow never schedule the treatment or worse, ask for a prophy? The reason patients don’t accept treatment isn’t that they didn’t have the information but rather that the information didn’t speak to their feelings. Both knowledge and positive emotion are key components in motivation. This course will raise confidence and empower you to reframe your patient conversations for better treatment acceptance. Best practices in initial periodontal therapy and evidence-based standards of care will also be reviewed.

That’s Not What I Learned in School: What Successful Practitioners Do Differently
Did you learn that floss is the magic elixir preventing everything from caries to bone loss? Or perhaps you are still providing ‘routine care’ – such as prophys, fluoride treatments, and radiographs. While education provides the foundation, it depreciates over time as new research, therapies, and treatments emerge. This course will empower you to move out of your comfort zone and feel confident adopting new evidence-based strategies for everyday patient care.

Love it, Don’t Leave it: Ten Tips to Enhance Career Satisfaction
Do you ever dread going to work, feel burnt out, or daydream about a new career? Is going back to school not feasible? A great deal of our time, effort, and energies are focused on the workplace. Not being happy can flow into other areas and reduce our quality of life. There are some simply strategies that can enhance career satisfaction, make you feel more confident, and empowered to make the day and work place more enjoyable.

Seniors & Boomers: How to Treat the Most Medically Complex Generations
Does it seem like your patient population is getting older? Are many taking multiple medications? Currently, 43 million people are over the age of 65, and the number is growing daily. It is estimated that 3 in 4 in this age group suffer from 2 or more chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, or COPD. Many are cancer survivors. Others will have experienced joint replacement. This course will empower you to feel confident treating those that are medically compromised or complex, experience polypharmacy, and may have some type of disability.

There is No Generation Gap Here: How to Treat Patients from Ages 8 to 98
Does it seem as though more and more patients of all ages have a complex medical history? It is estimated that 3 in 4 adults over age 65 and 1 in 15 children suffer from 2 or more chronic medical conditions. Rising rates of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle is prevalent in all age groups. It contributes to the early onset of disability and many chronic conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and asthma. This course will empower you understand and feel confident caring for all age groups.

A Funny Thing Happened in the Toronto Airport

May 22, 2014

As a dental hygienist, you get used to the funny reactions people have when they you tell them that’s your profession. Some cover their mouths, others ask for advice, but the most will tell you how much they hate flossing. When I go on to tell people that I work for Water Pik, the reactions are even more fun. I sometimes get “you mean that thing that goes ‘psh, psh, psh’ between your teeth”; often followed by ‘I have or I want’ one of those.

In my travels I’ve had hotel clerks and flight attendants tell me how much they love their Water Flosser. I’ve even helped people in Target figure out which Water Flosser was right for them. But my best encounter took place a couple of weeks ago in the Toronto airport.
As I was going through security, I could see that the screener kept looking over at my laptop (which had my Water Pik business card taped to it). He kept looking at my computer then would glance at me. As it came through, and I went to retrieve it – he stopped what he was doing and asked me if I worked for Water Pik. Yes, I replied. “I love it, I love it, I love it” he exclaimed. “I loved it so much I got one for my son and he loves it too!” I was bit stunned; he stopped the entire line to tell me this. However, I could not help smiling and thanking him for using our product. As the people behind looked on in some amazement, I simply smiled at them too, and went on my way.

And as I walked away, something occurred to me. In my 30 plus years as a dental hygienist, I have never had anyone get excited like that over dental floss. On the other hand, more and more, I meet people like the security screener who tell me how much they love their Water Flosser. It is a great feeling to work for a company, which manufactures a product that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Try it, You’ll Like it!

April 8, 2014

I can’t believe it has been so long since I last wrote something for my blog. How quickly time flies!

It has been a crazy year. I have been consumed with getting our Waterpik® lunch and learn team off the ground. Yes, you heard me correctly; Water Pik is now providing lunch and learns in select locations around the country.

The dental hygienists (and a couple of dentists too) that are on the lunch and learn team are great to work with. I have enjoyed meeting all of them (even it was virtual in most cases) and most of all, I have been energized by hearing about how much they love the Water Flosser and by the stories that they have told me.

Here is one I heard yesterday. Like many dental professionals, this hygienist had tried the Water Flosser in the past but wasn’t a regular user. She was, however, a regular recommender – to people with ortho, implants, crown and bridge or perio. Like I used to be when I was in clinical practice and probably like many of you too.

But then she decided to try it again. Guess what? Now she is recommending it to everyone.

A lot of recommenders have never tried the Water Flosser and a lot of recommenders think it’s just for those patients with cleaning challenges.

And yet, don’t most patients face cleaning challenges……with flossing….most people exaggerate a little on how much they do it. And then there are those that actually do it; but never well enough to get a health benefit.

So, I have two suggestions. Try the Waterpik® Water Flosser again – you won’t be disappointed. Number two, book a lunch and learn.

Here are the locations where we are offering them: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Daytona, Denver/Fort Collins, Detroit, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles/Orange County, Miami, New York City/Long Island/New Jersey, Norfolk, Portland, Richmond, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, St Louis, Walnut Creek, Washington DC

Don’t see your city on the list? Here is where we are looking for dental hygienists to work as independent professional educators: Alexandria/Arlington, Baton Rouge, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Duluth, Fairfield County, CT, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pasadena/San Gabriel, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, San Mateo, Tucson

If you are interested in a lunch and learn or want to inquire about becoming a lunch and learn presenter, email me a cjahn@waterpik.com

Happy 100th Anniversary Dental Hygiene

June 11, 2013

Whitening. Orthodontics. Veneers.  Dental work that today many of us take for granted. 100 years ago this simply not the case; instead most people sought dental care to eliminate pain.  Often times this meant extracting the tooth or teeth without anesthetic.  In fact 100 years ago, over 50% of the population had lost all of their teeth.  Those who could afford it got dentures; many did not.

Today only about 10% of people lose all of their teeth.  While many technological advances have made this possible, one of the most important factors has been the emergence of dental hygienists.  In the early 1900’s, in Bridgeport, CT, a dentist, Alfred C. Fones was an early proponent of prevention, including teeth cleaning as a way to maintain and preserve teeth.  He taught his assistant and cousin, Irene Newman many of the duties commonly provided by dental hygienists today.  Dr. Fones opened the first school of dental hygiene in Bridgeport, and graduated his first class, which included Ms. Newman, in 1913.

Today there are more than 150,000 dental hygienists in the US.  While many people think of us as the ‘person who cleans my teeth’, we do this in context of prevention along with other therapies. In addition to a ‘cleaning’ a typical dental hygiene appointment may include duties such as performing a comprehensive clinical and periodontal assessment including screening for oral cancer, caries, and periodontal disease, placing dental sealants, applying fluoride treatments, and recommending a personal home-care regime and self-care products.

Our smile is one of the most important things we wear each day!  Dental hygienists deserve a big thank you for this!  Happy Anniversary!

Yes, the Waterpik Water Flosser Removes Plaque

March 22, 2013

Seriously, you might say? That isn’t what I learned in school. The same is true for me. In fact the only thing I learned in school about oral irrigation was that it didn’t remove plaque so there was no point in recommending it. It wasn’t until I was a practicing hygienist and had a patient who had starting using it and greatly improved his oral heath that I became more informed about the product and its benefits.

Where did this idea that the Water Flosser cannot remove plaque come from? My guess is that it has to do with the word ‘water.’ In school, we learn that plaque cannot be removed by simply swishing with water; mechanical action is required. This is true, and what makes the Water Flosser different is that it utilizes pulsation and pressure to deliver the water.

A 2009 study at USC found that a three-second application of pulsating water from the Waterpik® Water Flosser set at medium pressure removed 99.9% of plaque from the treated area. The researchers concluded that the study demonstrated that the hydraulic forces produced by the Water Flosser can remove plaque from tooth surfaces.

Recently, a study found that not only does the Water Flosser remove plaque, but it does it more effectively than string floss. Subjects abstained from all oral hygiene from 23-25 hours then used a manual toothbrush and either string floss or a Water Flosser. The people who used the Water Flosser had 29% better plaque removal. Looking at the approximal area, the Water Flosser beat floss again being 29% better.

The next time your patient complains they can’t, won’t, or don’t like to floss, recommend the Water Flosser. You and they will be pleasantly surprised!

Where the Jobs are

January 23, 2013

Carol_Tammi DHCH2013 The American Dental Hygienists’ Association recently hosted its second Dental Hygiene in a Changing World Conference. In attendance were around 200 dental hygienists from all across the country; many seeking information on how transition or tap into different types of career opportunities like public health, education, corporate positions, and entrepreneurship. It was exciting to see the energy and talent in the room, and it made me feel confident about the future of dental hygiene and proud that Water Pik, Inc was a corporate supporter of the event.

The economic downturn, an influx of new dental hygiene graduates along with people staying in the work force longer has led to a scarcity of clinical dental hygiene positions. This situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon. A study on dental income published in JADA in April 2012 found that there has been a decline in average real net income for dentists due to a decrease in the utilization of dental care. The decline actually started in 2006 prior to the recession leading the authors to speculate that income may not recover to prerecession levels.

One of the conference panel members, my friend Tammi Byrd told the group that she believes job growth will come from the public health sector and other alternative settings rather than the traditional brick and mortar dental offices. This startled the audience a little and left many asking what those jobs might be.

I don’t think we know the answer to that, yet, but I’m certain that several creative, talented, and energetic dental hygienists will figure it out and lead the way. Will you be one of them?

Putting the Happy in Happy New Year

January 7, 2013

If you’re like many people, you had some time off over the holidays. Was it hard to go back work? Did you dread it or were rested and happy to get back into the routine?

How happy are you or your employees at work? It’s an important subject. After all, we do spend a great deal of our day and most of our adult life working. In today’s competitive job environment, changing dental hygiene positions and getting raises isn’t as easy as it used to be. And if you’re the dentist, well it’s your show.

New research is telling us that we don’t need to change jobs or make more money or even have all the latest toys to be happy at work. In many cases, those things give us a temporary high, but are not lasting.

According to Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, there are other ways we can enhance our happiness (as well as those of our employees) at work. Some of them simply require a reframing of our thoughts while other entail making adjustments in behavior. Here are some ideas to ponder.

1) Competency – can you get happiness and satisfaction from how well you do your job such as the patient who improves their home care or the implant restoration that went well?
2) Autonomy – can you let go enough to give people the room to have a fair amount of control over how they do their job?
3) Sense of purpose – can you retrain your brain to focus on how much your work improves their lives versus how ‘lazy’ or non-compliant they are?
4) Connectedness – how well do you know your co-workers and/or staff and do you make a daily effort to talk to each person?

According to Shawn, making even small adjustments in these areas can help you feel more inspired and happy. I’ve read Shawn’s book, and it’s fascinating and compelling. Learn more by visiting his website at http://www.goodthinkinc.com

Happy Holidays!

December 20, 2012
At the top of the Empire State Building

At the top of the Empire State Building

Why does it always seem like the last six months of the year goes twice as fast as the first?  Seems like just yesterday that I was in Phoenix for the ADHA meeting and now here we are five days before Christmas.

Looking back, it’s been a great year.  I am so very blessed to have a job that I love and family and friends that I am close to.  My life has also been enriched by all the people I’ve met along the way in the courses that I’ve given and the shows that I’ve worked.

Let me simply say that I hope the year has been good to you.  May 2013 bring all the happiness and success that you desire.

Encourage a Quitter

November 15, 2012

Today is the American Cancer Society’s 37th Great American Smokeout; a perfect day to remind ourselves of how important it is to encourage our patients to stop using tobacco.  People who smoke are four times more likely than non-smokers and twice as likely as former smokers to have periodontitis making smoking the number one risk factor for periodontal disease.

If we want to talk to our patients about the oral/systemic link, we don’t need to look any farther than tobacco use. According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) smoking harms every organ of the body. Nearly one in five deaths each year is attributed to the adverse effects of smoking.  For every person who dies from smoking, another 20 people are living with a smoking related disease.

Smoking cessation improves overall health reducing the risk of disease and premature death.   Almost 69% of current smokers would like to quit and 52% have quit for at least one day.  No one is ever too old to quit.

It can be daunting to talk to our patients about smoking cessation.   We know they know smoking is harmful.  Yet if we value the oral/systemic link as much as we say we do, then one way to align our values with action is to encourage our patients to quit.