Something new

Anne Guignon, RDH, made the mistake of taking too long to test a product that a company was nice enough to share with her, and she won’t make that mistake again. She loved the product, and she tells her fellow hygienists to appreciate the opportunities that companies share with them.

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When an exhibitor hands you a sample, what do you do with it?

Anne Guignon

Who doesn’t like trying out new products? Seriously, every dental hygienist I know gets a kick out of seeing how many goodies they can stuff into their bag at conferences. Perhaps we’re naturally curious, but I think we’re actually looking for ways to make our days easier and more fun, and for new ways to get our patients’ attention.

Companies that exhibit at conventions or continuing education courses are there to support our educational efforts, but they also want to get to know us and share information about their products with us. Companies also want to hear our ideas about what makes a product work well, or why we made a particular purchase. They use these forums to gather ideas on how to design better products.

Many hygiene-specific events offer activities where attendees are encouraged to visit booths and listen to what a company has to offer. This is done in exchange for a tick mark on a card. When the card is filled out, attendees are eligible for drawings. The idea may work on paper, but in reality some attendees only want their cards stamped, and are not willing to listen to what company representatives have to say. This kind of behavior hurts everyone.

So the next time you’re walking the exhibit hall, take the time to stop and ask questions and really listen to what company reps have to say. This is just good old- fashioned manners.

Companies care about us, but in order to stay in business they have to sell products, so product education is of great importance. It costs them a lot for a company to participate in events. There are transportation costs, booth rental fees, publicity costs, sample costs, and booth shipping, set up, and tear down. It might look glamorous at the show, but a lot of hard work goes into exhibiting. So the next time you’re walking the exhibit hall, take the time to stop and ask questions and really listen to what company reps have to say. This is just good old fashioned manners.

Actually trying product samples

What lessons should we all learn about acquiring sample products? First, take the time to listen to what a company has to say. This is just common courtesy and a great way to say thank you for the company’s time and effort to help educate us.

Second, commit to using the product in the first week after a course or when you receive it in the mail. It is a company’s gift to you. You’ll never be able to decide if you really like a new varnish delivery system if you don’t use it. You’ll never be able to judge the toothbrush if you hand it to your overnight guest who left his or hers at home.

Third, if you really like the product, take the time to say something nice in an online forum. That’s a great way to say thank you and share the good news with your colleagues. If you don’t like something about a product, don’t shout it from the rooftops on the internet; let the company know directly about your disappointment. Give them a chance to understand your thoughts and possibly rectify the situation.

Insights from manufacturers

Lest you think that I’ve never disappointed a company, here is a true story about my less-than-stellar behavior with a company. At the eleventh hour on the last day of the 2017 Yankee Dental Congress, I breezed by the Curaprox booth. I had intended to visit earlier, but time got the best of me. I listened to Dale’s description of the CS 5460 unique toothbrush design. He also described the rationale behind the charcoal-based, Black Is White toothpaste. Dale graciously offered me samples and I hurried on my merry way.

Several months later, Dale sent an email asking me how I liked the products. I never got back to him. What was I thinking? My brain and manners were both out to lunch. But one day I finally unpacked the brush and wow, what a surprise! I had no idea that a hand brush could create that level of clean with so few strokes. I put Swiss-based Curaprox at the head of my list for this year’s Yankee Dental meeting exhibits.

I sheepishly sought out Dale and apologized for not getting back to him. Then I launched into my thoughts and observations about the CS 5460 brush. Dale grinned and started explaining why this brush felt so different. I absorbed his information: 5,460 super-soft polyester filaments—which is twice as many bristles as a conventional brush—packed into a small, contra-angled head. No wonder my mouth felt so clean with so little effort. Dale also explained more about the charcoal toothpaste, and helped me understand the unique benefits of the interproximal brush designs. I am thankful that Dale could get past my earlier behavior and give me a second chance, and I’m eager to learn more about how Curaprox products can benefit patients.

There are only so many opportunities to attend conventions or CE, and life demands and finances can complicate attending live events. So what can you do? If you can’t make it to a meeting or a company you’re interested in is not attending a meeting, what are some other ways you can receive a product sample? Given today’s technology-driven world, we’re only a keystroke away from trying many new products. A perfect case in point is the opportunity presented online to try Young Dental’s Varnish Pen.

The varnish is housed in the pen-shaped handle that features a contra-angled brush head that improves access to all areas of the oral cavity. The pen design is comfortable to hold, and the contra-angled head helps keep one’s wrist in neutral. To activate the system, one should apply a slight downward pressure on the colored ring, and then twist, then apply light pressure to the tube so varnish can flow freely onto the bristle tips. The application is efficient, helps eliminate mixing and repeated dipping into a well, and helps eliminate dripping varnish. As an avid recycler, I appreciate Young’s attention to the planet. The tube and plastic handle are fully recyclable.

Not only did Young Dental offer samples via an online format, every clinician requesting a sample was automatically included in a drawing for a Young Hygiene Polishing Handpiece. This handpiece incorporates a contra-angled hose end coupling that dramatically reduces the stress to our wrists and hands. Just imagine being the lucky hygienist who not only received a Varnish Pen sample, but also the handpiece. I’d love to see a photo of his or her smiling face!

I just got the thumb’s up from Curaprox to test drive an exciting activity at the Kentucky Dental Hygienists’ Advancing Life Long Learning Conference. Imagine the photos of 200 dental professionals brushing their teeth with a CS 5460 at the same time. I can’t wait to share the pictures on my Facebook page!

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ANNE NUGENT GUIGNON,RDH, MPH, CSP, provides popular programs, including topics on biofilms, power driven scaling, ergonomics, hypersensitivity, and remineralization. Recipient of the 2004 Mentor of the Year Award and the 2009 ADHA Irene Newman Award, Anne has practiced clinical dental hygiene in Houston since 1971, and can be contacted at anne@anneguignon.com.

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