By Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH
What do playing competitive tennis and dental hygiene have in common? The willingness to give 100% to each match, or to each practice and patient. Cindy Rothenberg, RDH, has practiced clinical hygiene, raised two sons, and plays tennis with that very same work ethic and mind-set. The commitment and passion to succeed in business and recreation while not settling for mediocrity allowed her to recognize the need for dental practitioners to evolve with the technology driven advancements in dentistry.
The mind-set has been the driving force in developing her Implant Awareness Campaign for creating empowered dental teams. Her workshop, “The Ultimate Use of an Implant Coordinator in a High Tech Surgical Practice,” is designed to create an educated team that is comfortable with technology to increase case acceptance, enhance patient experience, and participate in the interdisciplinary implant process.
Over the past several years, the use of 3D scanning technology and treatment planning software have increased practice growth by establishing surgical expertise and increasing patient case acceptance. Using technology instills confidence and trust among patients and referrers. Cindy’s program offers insight into the implant consultation and surgical processes. She strives to have participants:
- Expand the roles and responsibilities of the implant/treatment coordinator
- Review the components of an effective implant consultation
- Discuss the communication skills and verbiage necessary to educate patients on the risks, benefits, and alternatives of implant therapy while answering any questions regarding the total process with confidence
- Processes with referring practices and labs that will enhance office communications
- Develop marketing strategies for the surgical implant practice
- Understand the treatment costs and develop effective techniques for case and fee presentation.
Cindy believes that hygienists looking for career alternatives, who are seeking to develop the role of an effective implant coordinator and motivated assistants with excellent communication skills are the target audience. She presents the program in four hours but prefers a workshop of a one to two-days to achieve maximum benefit.
Cindy also presents programs on communication skills, cone beam computed tomography, treatment options and modalities within implant dentistry, effective letter writing for the implant practice, and scanning to surgical guide protocols.
Dental hygienists are the primary patient educator in many practices. The success and increased case acceptance of implants has multiplied with the use of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). Hygienists in all disciplines need to understand the basics of CBCT to inform patients about its role in the implant tooth replacement process. This increased knowledge base can also open new pathways of opportunity for the hygienist.
Cindy’s inspiration for the Implant Awareness Campaign came in the early 2000s when several local dentists started to restore dental implants. Local surgeons were placing implants more frequently and one oral maxillofacial surgeon was looking to create an implant coordinator to expand his implant practice by working with referring dentists, as well as educating patients. The surgeon asked Cindy to participate with two assistants in a comprehensive implant coordinator course.
Although the course was thought-provoking and informative on the basics of implants, treatment planning, and diagnostics, Cindy felt that with her vast experience as a clinical hygienist she could incorporate a lot more material to broaden the scope and responsibility of this exciting career opportunity. She had already been presenting programs on HIPAA, practice management, and coordinating a professional study club for several years. So adding the implant information seemed like a natural progression. She started researching and attending implant conferences, embracing CBCT and treatment planning software and began to expand and evolve her career path.
Her program offers handouts that include detailed job descriptions, FAQs, and implant phrases for communicating with patients. She is also working on an implant coordinator manual she expects to have in publication by the summer 2017.
Cindy is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and received her dental hygiene degree from the City University of New York (CUNY) and Brooklyn College. In 1999, a general dentist, an oral-maxillofacial surgeon, a periodontist, and an orthodontist decided to collaborate and create a “Professional Dental Study Club.” Cindy was invited to join in the process but no one had a clear idea of how to make the study club a reality. Cindy contacted a friend who was involved in an established study club and was introduced to the coordinator of that group. She picked the coordinator’s brain and learned the ins and outs of achieving accreditation and AGD sponsorship.
From that humble beginning, Cindy held the position of managing director for 17 years and has issued over 500 CE hours for groups ranging from 50 to 60 professionals monthly! She has even developed PowerPoint presentations and handouts for others to present. Her lecturing career developed out of need for dental offices to be HIPPA compliant so she began studying with a principle of a “big 6 accounting firm” while following ADA guidelines.
Before raising her children, she worked full time for a periodontist in New York, Dr Ronald Odrich, and making that full-time commitment enhanced her experience within the practice and effectiveness with patient education. If she were not in dentistry, Cindy feels she would be a college professor of literature since she loves inspiring youth and reading, especially historical fiction. She would consider being a professional tennis player if she were more skilled but even if she was, she feels the pressure would kill her.
Growing up below the poverty level, with a widowed mom who worked full time, a sister, cousin and grandmother, regular dental care was not available. Cindy was petrified of the dentist. Her mom and grandmother wore full dentures so that when her fear and lack of care caused her to need a root canal, post and crown on #31, the cost was so prohibitive that they took her to an oral surgeon to have it extracted. During the process the surgeon noticed she was Prognathic Class III and suggested orthognathic surgery. Dr. Martin Sher was so kind, understanding that although they had little money, he vowed to work with her to find a way to make the surgery possible. Post recovery, he offered her a job as a dental assistant and patient educator for jaw surgery.
Dr. Sher was her mentor and believed she was a natural patient educator, so he suggested a career in dental hygiene.
Since the surgery changed her life in so many ways, Cindy has been a strong advocate of orthognathic treatment. When her younger son inherited her Class III jaw, she realized the working relationship between the orthognathic surgeon and the orthodontist is imperative and began to proliferate relationships across these disciplines. She is proud of the number of lives she has changed by speaking out about orthognathic surgery whenever possible.
Whether discussing dental implants and implant coordinator positions, or orthognathic surgery, Cindy is influencing hygienists to educate patients to make decisions that are in their own best interest. That has been her career mantra and she is proud of it. Giving that 100% on the court or as an advocate of comprehensive dentistry, devoted to inspiring others, is the driving force towards professional fulfilment.
For more information on Cindy or her programs contact her at [email protected]
Thought for the month:
“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” - Arthur Ashe RDH
ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].