Synergy and the patient-provider relationship: The hygienist’s essential role in communication and treatment acceptance

Figure 1 : In the first scenario, the patient makes an appointment for a consultation with the dentist and dental assistant. In the photo, Dr. Goldstein examines the new patient with Christina Via, the dental assistant, who writes down his notes.

Editor’s Note: This article is part one of a three-part series submitted by the authors.The second and third parts are scheduled to appear in the January 2018 and February 2018 issues.

The role that each dental team member plays can positively or negatively influence patients’ perceptions of the practice, their trust in the providers, and their treatment acceptance. Synergy is defined as “the increased effectiveness that results when two or more people or businesses work together.”1 The relationship between the dentist and the dental hygienist, in particular, is one that requires a delicate balance of skill, communication, and collaboration to meet the patients’ needs.

Too many times, the newly hired hygienist and other team members are not given a thorough enough education into the dental practice’s goals and patient management procedures, which can lead to confusion and potential team failure. This symbiotic relationship must consist of mutual respect for one another as well as an understanding of expected clinical procedures, skills involved, ethical expectations, plus the psychological and social practices that each dentist expects. This series will concentrate on the strategies that play an important role in the essential relationship between the hygienist and the dentist.