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Polishing First?

When I'm assessing hygienists, one standard recommendation I have is to try polishing first.


In my experience, it is a more ergonomic and efficient way to serve our patients.


When we polish first, we:

  • Remove plaque and stain before we begin scaling, which cuts way down on our time in the mouth

  • Reduce repetitive motions when scaling because we simply don't have to scale as much.



If you aren't used to this, you may think, "What if the patient doesn't like it?"

Put simply, we must do what is right for us, regardless of the patient's preference. Also, once you explain the WHY behind this, patients will understand immediately.

Here is some verbiage I hope you will find helpful.

  • "I am going to polish first this time, then will go back through with my instruments."

  • "I am polishing first because the polish is actually much more efficient at removing the soft plaque, food, and stain than my instruments. Once I'm done polishing, then I focus on the hard deposits with my instruments."

  • "Polishing first cuts down on the time you're in the chair, it makes it easier on both of us."

If the patient wants that minty fresh feeling after you're done scaling, give them some mouth rinse and they'll be happy!

I don't recommend polishing twice just to please the patient as this is unnecessary abrasion that could compromise their enamel, I promise, just give them some rinse.

I hope you'll give this a try! I bet you'll love it.

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