This week’s tip is all about increasing patient acceptance with the use of an intra-oral camera. A picture speaks a 1000 words, right? With these tips, you will be able to help patients see what their needs are and get them on board with the necessary treatment.
Eden Ivie is a dedicated dental hygienist with a strong interest in public health as well as holistic wellness and nutrition. She maintains dental hygiene licenses in three states and is a Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioner in the state of Pennsylvania. Eden has been practicing clinical dental hygiene since graduating from San Juan College in 2004 and earned her BSDH from Northern Arizona University in 2018. She currently uses her PHDHP license to practice in a pediatric mobile dental unit that provides preventative care for children in Head Start and other public health settings utilizing teledentistry technologies. Eden works as a Teledentistry Specialist and Director of Customer Success for MouthWatch where she provides training and implementation guidance for a range of dental care models embracing teledentistry.
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This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Eden Ivie: Hello, everyone. This is Eden Ivie with MouthWatch. I’m here today to talk to you about intraoral cameras and how you can use them in your everyday practice to make your life a little bit easier.
Just a heads up, MouthWatch has donated an intraoral camera to A Tale of Two Hygienists to give away at the end of this episode, so make sure you stay tuned for the details.
I’m going to jump right into what I feel one of the biggest differences an intraoral camera is going to make in your everyday practice and that is with patient education. We spend a ton of time trying to educate our patients on their oral health and how they can improve their oral health through home care, and an intraoral camera is going to make that a lot easier.
Hygienists have a very clinical knowledge base and a clinical vocabulary that our patients don’t have, and sometimes we have communication issues and a little bit of a language barrier. An intraoral camera breaks down that barrier. If you can show a picture of your patient’s tissue, some inflammation, they’re going to see that red, boggy, bleeding tissue, and they’re going to understand that there’s an infection there. With that picture, we’re able to convey the true status of their oral health without using a bunch of jargon that they’re not going to understand.
Intraoral cameras are the only tool that have been proven to change patient behavior. So, when that patient sees that image, they’re able to take ownership for their oral health. They’re invested, and they’re motivated to make a change. And, not only are they motivated, they’re able to see exactly where they need to focus, exactly how they need to be using the oral health tools that you’re recommending to them.
Another way that you can use intraoral cameras in your everyday practice is for case presentation or treatment presentation to your patient. Without using an intraoral camera, our patients just have to take everything we say or the doctor says at face value. And, often, we’re speaking to them in a language they don’t understand. If we say, “You have an old amalgam that has ditched out margins with some craze lines and maybe some fractures around it,” they might understand one or two words out of that sentence, but they’re not really going to understand why they need treatment.
But, if you can show that same patient a picture of that tooth and you can show them those ditched out margins, you can show them the craze lines going down around the cusp, they’re really going to understand why they need that treatment. They’re going to understand that maybe the next time they bite on a half-popped popcorn kernel, they’re going to lose a big chunk of their tooth.
So showing your patient a picture of the treatment needs does wonders for building trust and communication and making your patient feel like they’re a partner in their treatment and that you’re not just sitting there talking over their head.
You might even find that your patient gets excited about treatment, and they’re looking at those images, and they’re diagnosing themselves. I see this all the time at trade shows. Now, granted, a lot of the people that come by the MouthWatch booth at dental conferences are dental professionals, but if they put an intraoral camera in their mouth and start snapping pictures, instantly they say, “Oh, I need a cleaning. Oh, look at the margins on that restoration.” And they start diagnosing themselves.
You’ll find that your patients do the same thing. They want their teeth to be pretty. They want them to look healthy. So this tool is going to make that case presentation a lot easier for you.
Intraoral cameras are also going to make documentation so much simpler for you. Now, when you’re documenting in a chart, or if you’re tracking a soft tissue lesion or you are — have a watch on a tooth, you can write down a description, but that description is always going to be a little bit subjective.
You might put size, color, location, duration, margins, but when you go back two weeks later, are you really going to be able to tell from that description if anything has changed on that tooth or on that lesion? But, if you can snap an intraoral picture, which takes point two seconds, you’re going to have a very clear documentation of what that tissue or tooth looked like on that day, and it’s very easy to compare when it comes back and know without a doubt if anything has changed.
The last thing I’m going to talk about today is insurance narratives. When we are submitting — especially if we’re submitting a gingivitis code, we have got to have photos to document. Otherwise, you’re going to end up writing a very long narrative trying to explain to the insurance company why your patient needs this treatment when you could take point two seconds to snap an intraoral photo.
I have heard some dentists say that they will often stop in the middle of treatment and take images for insurance documentation. This helps with claims. If they had to change treatment — if they had planned to do a two-surface filling and they open it up and it’s really needs [sic] to be a three-surface filling, they’ll just snap a picture of that decay with the intraoral camera, and then there’s no question. There’s no blowback of “well, you said that I needed this treatment, and then you did this” because it’s documented. They can just show right away “this is why I made the decision that I made.” They’ve got that evidence, and it’s not just their word.
I hope that you guys will take the time to learn how to use intraoral cameras and start using them in your daily practice and see how much easier they’re going to make your life and how they’re going to improve the quality of treatment that you are providing for your patients.
If you’re not today’s lucky winner and you don’t win a MouthWatch camera, then you can always go to mouthwatch.com\RDH and buy your own camera through the RDH Buyers Club. You get a great discount and a lot of fun swag.
Michelle Strange: Thanks for listening to another TIPisode. We are excited to announce that you can win a MouthWatch intraoral camera. Click the link in our show notes and enter to win. You can also learn more about intraoral cameras and teledentistry solutions that bring patients, providers, and treatment together at mouthwatch.com.
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