How Select Dental Management is elevating hygienists

Florham Park, N.J.-based Select Dental Management is working hard to support the hygienists in its network while working with other organizations to recruit more hygiene professionals to its team.

Becky Kiddoo, director of hygiene at Select Dental Management, recently spoke with Becker's about the biggest challenges affecting dental hygienists and how the DSO is supporting providers in this role.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What has been the most exciting part of your role with Select Dental Management?

Becky Kiddoo: I am so impressed by each and every one of their providers.They're so bought into the idea of providing exceptional patient care that it makes my job easy honestly because they just believe in what they do. They believe in our mission-driven values of providing the best patient experience, so the teams have been the highlight of my time with Select.

Q: What does Select Dental Management do well with supporting dental hygienists?

BK: Select really believes in building the culture of valuing hygienists as providers who bring patients, not just dental health, but oral systemic health as well. Part of how we do that is by providing support that elevates the hygienists as preventive specialists. We feel like that is crucial in keeping the patients healthy. We do that by focusing with our hygiene teams and figuring out what we can do to make them feel more supported in their roles. This year, we set up our hygiene study club, which has been really impactful. We've been able to have a lot of great speakers and educators on the latest, greatest products and technology to be able to really keep them cutting-edge with everything they're providing for their patients. It's also been great mentorship to feel like they're part of a broader organization, to get to know the other hygienists, bounce some best practices off of each other and to be able to provide that support. 

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges facing hygienists today?

BK: Recruiting is a big one, being able to recruit top talent and having the hygienists coming through the pipeline. We have a great talent acquisition team and we've been going to hygiene schools and interviewing with [students] to help them prepare for when they graduate, which has been really good to be able to meet the candidates one on one and provide them with real world experience and have that networking with the schools and community. 

Q: Are there any other trends that you're noticing in the dental hygiene field?

BK: I'm really excited right now about [artificial intelligence.] We have started partnering with some great AI technology companies to offer different AIs to our practices. Digital scanning is something we've been working with our teams to be able to implement and we're finding that hygienists are really loving it. It's enhancing their efficiency with their patients, and also the patient outcomes have been a lot better as far as being able to educate and show them what's going on with their oral health. 

There's been a lot of talk about oral-systemic health and the link between that. Also, the increased scope of practice in some of the states for dental hygienists is something that's been really exciting too. I've had a lot of talks with hygiene providers about that and just how dental hygienists are playing a key role in identifying and helping prevent oral health issues before they escalate.

Q: What kind of role do hygienists play in advancing oral-systemic health?

BK: They play one of the biggest roles. They're the front line for prevention in a lot of the cases. They're gathering a lot of the diagnostics on the patients, doing a thorough assessment of their medical history. We do a CAMBRA, a caries risk assessment, so you go over [patients'] nutritional factors and you're able to give them some nutritional counseling, which has been really impactful, especially if you have a patient who is new to your practice or a little bit nervous. Hygienists are key to being able to build trust and educate patients on the importance of the oral-systemic link.

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