by Karen Kaiser, RDH
Exhibiting social graces, language abilities, friendliness, and optimism are personality traits considered “soft” skills. Soft skills such as how one communicates might be learned, but for some people these skills are a natural trait. Communicating politely and effectively with patients takes this soft skill. Having these interpersonal skills combined with the technical requirements for providing hygiene services are attributes employers look for. Even on those hard days we all encounter, maintaining basic soft skills like optimism and friendliness become effortless when one chooses to use soft products chairside.
Using soft products to make patients comfortable is essential. Hearing patients say a procedure was painless is a delight. One procedure patients often say is uncomfortable is taking X–rays. Film edges impinge on tender tissues and cause discomfort. Companies have addressed this painful issue and developed foam pads that slip directly on film packets to offer cushioned protection from jabbing corners. One company, K–Stat, offers Soft–Ease, a single–use X–ray packet that is flavored. Soft–Ease cushioned foam pockets are available in wintergreen, raspberry, vanilla, or bubble gum flavors.
Applying medicaments chairside does not need to be hard when using soft products. Centrix Dental has SofSticks, disposable sponge tip applicators perfect for applying desensitizers to tender cervical areas. The stick has a bendable head to maneuver along the gumline.
SofNeedle, also by Centrix, is a metal canula with a foam tip that twists onto a 22ga Leur–Lock applicator for dispensing liquids to the tooth surface. The soft foam tip works for applying etchants, sealants, or chlorhexadine.
The softer touch
When working in the mouth, a softer touch is calming to patients. Using gloves which have suppleness and fit well on fingers is necessary. Cranberry Gloves offer the Softouch glove, which is available in a powder–free soft vinyl.
The latex–free glove is odor–free and smooth to slip on the hand. For a smooth surface on restored teeth, Waterpik Company offers a cosmetic paste called Soft Shine. Made of ultra–fine sapphire particles, this soft cosmetic paste will not damage restored surfaces. Soft Shine is dispensed in single cups that fit into standard prophy rings. With a creamy, nonsplatter consistency, surfaces can be renewed and brought to a soft shine.
Some patients find flossing difficult and look for adjuncts to comfortably remove deposits. Sunstar GUM has Soft–Picks, which are perfect for patients who use wooden toothpicks to stimulate interproximal tissues. Soft–Picks have tiny latex–free projections on the pick that remove plaque. The flexible bristles are soft and tapered, which allows the cleaner to deliver fluoride varnish interproximally, which deplaques implants, orthodontics, and bridgework.
Hard calculus deposits can be softened with SofScale calculus scaling gel by Dentsply Preventive Care. When calculus deposits form and the patient is sensitive to ultrasonic or hand instrumentation, apply SofScale for desirable results.
This tissue–safe, blue gel is simply syringed where needed and allowed to soften deposits, which makes deposit removal less tiring to the hygienist. The scaling gel is thick and stays where it is placed. Offered in an agreeable taste, patients welcome a product that makes the appointment less trying.
A positive disposition makes one a valuable team member. Soft skills are an important component for success in a dental office. Patients will comment that team members are friendly and respectful when communication between the patient and clinician is established and maintained. For those hard dental days, use soft, dependable products frequently.
The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.