How often does a patient walk to the front desk or call the office to make their next appointment, and your team member innocently responds with, “Oh yes, I see it is just a cleaning we need to schedule for you today.”  Consider what patients think when they hear that their next appointment is “just a cleaning”. They can think anything from, “Well that doesn’t sound very important” to “that shouldn’t cost much” and “if that’s all it is, I probably don’t even need it.”

There is so much more involved in maintaining a healthy mouth. A routine hygiene appointment includes more than “just” cleaning teeth. We are quick to blame our patients for not staying current with their routine hygiene appointments. But, in reality, we are the ones minimizing the importance with our word choice.

Words can be one of our greatest and most influential tools in shaping one’s actions. Let’s start using them to benefit our patients and our practices:

  • Consider using terms and phrases that encourage and promote the true significance of a routine hygiene appointment. Include terminology that informs the patient. Add validity to the cost of routine management over crisis management of their oral health.
  • Be specific about what’s involved in a hygiene appointment, such as a health history review, oral cancer screening, and fluoride treatments. Explain that multiple assessments will identify risk factors and removal of plaque, tartar, and stains.
  • Most importantly, connect the patient’s oral health to its impact on their overall systemic health.

Of course, the ability to have these kinds of conversations with our patients is dependent on quick and easy access to each individual patient’s information. Well-documented treatment plans and customized chart notes make information easy to find and is imperative for having individualized and accurate conversations.

Learn More

If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in learning more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where these, and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas are taught to you and your team by one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches so you can have valuable, meaningful conversations with your patients that go beyond “just a cleaning.”. To find out more about Dentrix Profitability Coaching, CLICK HERE.


CIndy Sipe has an extensive background in consulting and office management. She has managed a multi-million dollar periodontal office for six years and a large multi-location general practice for five years. As a Dentrix coach, she is an expert in guiding offices toward profitability. She helps them turn their software fears into confidence and their frustrations into “know how.”