Stretch and learn in the exhibit hall

Feb. 1, 2009
Nearly a dozen new products that can be incorporated into dental hygiene practice have popped up on the scene since I wrote my last column.

by Anne Nugent Guignon, RDH, MPH
[email protected]

Nearly a dozen new products that can be incorporated into dental hygiene practice have popped up on the scene since I wrote my last column. That might not seem like a lot, but innovative technology and new products deserve our attention. Some products are improvements over previous chemistries, while others are breakthrough technologies that have the potential to change the course of how we treat a problem or deliver care.

It's nearly a full-time job to keep up with all the new information. Reading magazines such as RDH is one way to learn about new things. Lots of practical information is packed into articles, columns, and ads; however, it's a one-way dialogue. Online dental hygiene forums, such as the e-mail list, or a virtual trade show such as the RDH E-Vent, offer a free-flow exchange of ideas and experiences that adds another dimension to learning about new products. But most of us are clinicians and like to experience how a product or technology looks or feels firsthand.

Attending a CE course is a great way to gain product information; however, unless the course is in a workshop or hands-on format, it's rare to have the opportunity to try something firsthand. The best ways to get product information and first-hand experience are to spend time in an exhibit hall or an in-office demonstration. For example, if you're considering purchasing a pair of magnification loupes or looking for the perfect operator chair, then a large convention exhibit hall is a great place to start.

Dozens of companies exhibit products at these meetings, and spending time sitting in different chairs or trying on different loupes will help you decide which products provide the best performance or fit you the best. While exhibit halls let you try many products, it's not the same as experiencing something in your own clinical setting. Some companies provide in-office product trials or take custom measurements in your treatment room. Magnification loupes, manufactured from measurements taken at your office, are a perfect example.

A lunch date

Professional meetings are a way of life for a speaker like me. I'm exposed to lots of new ideas and technologies throughout the year, but no one in my clinical practice expects me to be a walking, talking CE course when I show up at the office. That's where an in-office demonstration comes in handy.

Lunch 'n' learns are a popular way to experience products or technologies in your own office. Many company representatives provide a light meal or snack while giving an informal demonstration of their products. For companies that have dozens of supplies, it can be helpful to tell the representative what you and your office wishes to learn so that everyone feels the time was used well.

A recent experience in my office proved the value of having a meeting focus. Earlier in the year, I found a breakthrough in toothbrush design and some innovative interproximal cleaning devices. Due to tight schedules, it took several months to schedule a lunch meeting with the company representative.

Before the meeting, I briefed the representative, who was new to the practice, about the products we wanted to discuss. Rather than focus on four or five key products, she literally opened up her bag and raced through the merits of every product her company made! Despite information overload, three products impressed everyone in the office and we placed an order that day. Patients love these products, and we're excited to recommend something new. So stretch a bit, learn about new products, and create a newer, innovative comfort zone for you and your patients. I'll see you in the exhibit halls.