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!