Dental hygienist and therapist training programme launched by Align Technology
Align Technology has launched a training programme, specifically created for hygienists and therapists to help improve oral health through tooth alignment. The programme is designed to show dental hygienists and therapists the pivotal role they can play within a multi-disciplinary, digitally-focused practice.
The four-part series is delivered on a dedicated Invisalign webpage and is free for those dental hygienists and therapists keen to learn how their expanded scope of practice makes them the ideal partner for dentists offering Invisalign treatment.
An initial pilot for the programme proved extremely popular amongst the 150 hygienists and therapists who participated, and it has now been made available across the UK. The agenda for the four-part online programme runs as follows:
Part 1: An educational session about how the Invisalign system fits into the hygienist/dentist interface and practice workflow; how to identify the patients who could most benefit from tooth alignment to improve their oral health; and how to introduce the Invisalign concept during the hygiene consultation.
Part 2: How to effectively communicate with patients during the hygiene consultation.
Part 3: The relationship between oral health and straight teeth.
Part 4: How to implement a digital workflow between practitioner and hygienist in the practice: how to diagnose and scan using the iTero inter-oral scanner.
Part Three of the programme is presented by Anna Middleton, best known to her 11.6k Instagram followers as the @London hygienist. Anna explains more about the new training programme.
“This online programme is specially developed for dental hygienists and therapists to give them an insight into how Align Technology aids patients in making their treatment choices. I will demonstrate how I use digital scanning to guide open conversations with patients regarding their dentition, and how I use it in my iTero workflow as an aid to the other clinicians in practice.
“More and more hygienists and therapists are keen to undertake additional roles to support their practices’ growth. In the pilot sessions delegates were keen to learn more about how they could incorporate digital scanning into their scope of practice, and to initiate conversations with patients about teeth straightening. I was able to share some of the dialogue I use and discuss the steps I take with my patients.”
Anna continued: “This programme offers real opportunities for these dental professionals. I always say ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’. Often when I see a patient under direct access, they may not have visited a dental practice for some time. I can discuss not only their oral health but their dental health.
“I keep scans of my patients as digital records and we all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”… These scans mean I can show patients all the areas in their mouth in detail, and use them to discuss any concerns they may have – and then discuss potential solutions.
“The start of any smile make-over journey begins with a session with me, and the dentists I work with always stress the importance of good oral hygiene and health in order to achieve stable results. After straightening treatment many patients who previously had difficulty maintaining their oral hygiene now say how much easier it is to clean. Those who once had more frequent visits in a year are now on 6-12 month recalls.
“The dentists I work with have special interests in aesthetic and restorative dentistry and by sending elements of their work to me they can make better use of their chairside time. I see the Invisalign programme helping hygienists and therapists to help their patients more.
“Invisalign treatment may not be suitable for all patients – it is the dentist or specialist orthodontist who makes the assessment and decides if the patient is a suitable candidate for clear aligner treatment – but it is a discrete and affordable solution, and one that some patients might not even be aware of. The programme will also show hygienists and therapists how scanning also records restorations and calculus.
“I use digital scanning for all my impressions now. I had a patient who desperately wanted whitening but could not tolerate alginate impressions, I used the iTero to scan their teeth to produce their whitening trays – this proved a complete game-changer for them.
“Hygienist and therapists are in a prime position to carry out scans. By utilising those in your team who are happy and want to take on extra duties, the practice should be able to see an improvement in workflow and time management, as well as an increase in revenue, which I am sure would be welcomed by any dentist.”
Anna works with Dr Rhona Eskander who added: “I think this hygienist programme is such a good idea because ultimately the success of the Invisalign workflow depends on teamwork. The hygienist tends to have a very good relationship with the patients so educating them that aligning the teeth has a massive benefit on oral hygiene is a huge help.
“Patients are more likely to understand teeth straightening options because the hygienist had already highlighted the benefits. Anna sees patients herself as a result of Direct Access and often I get referrals for aligning their teeth. In my experience the hygienist convinces the patient to have treatment, so ultimately more patients can be seen because the hygienist has already had that discussion.
“I would advise dentists to get on board with this Align hygienist programme particularly if their staff are already talking to their patients about Invisalign treatment. With so many more hygiene than dental appointments, it makes sense to involve hygienists. It is an opportunity that really should not be missed.”
Access to the training programme is via the Invisalign portal. To register, the dental hygienist or therapist needs to log on in collaboration with the Invisalign provider in the practice where they work using their IDS number. CPD certification is conferred on all participants on completion of the course.