At the start of the appointment, the dental therapist will provide an overview of Airflow – explaining what it is and how it works – and then move on to the clinical benefits, focusing on those specific to the patient.
Lesley says: ‘We then offer a free trial, which they can have that day or, alternatively, at their next appointment. As the whole dental team are passionate and enthusiastic about GBT, we find that patients are often very keen to try the treatment immediately.’
The fact that GBT can be offered to all patients is very important to the practice, as Lesley explains: ‘We have a lot of patients who suffer with sensitivity or have pacemakers – patients whose only option in the past was to have a hand scale. This was often time consuming, uncomfortable for patients and caused our therapists’ hands and wrists to tire easily. It is great to now be able to offer these patients a more comfortable and beneficial alternative.
‘We have also found that nervous patients are much happier to come now we offer Airflow. We can focus on the homecare whilst providing a beneficial treatment pain free. Improved homecare and GBT means that calculus removal can then be completed when the patient has less inflammation and when they have gained confidence and trust in the therapist treating them.’
Having initially invested in one unit, within a couple of months the practice introduced a second to meet patient demand. GBT has provided an effective complementary procedure to the team’s implant patients, too, with the therapists much happier knowing that they can maintain and treat implants effectively and efficiently without trauma.
This shift in hygiene protocols has also meant a key change in the team’s approach to patient education. Disclosing is one of the first steps in the process and patients are given an overview of what biofilm is and what it does.
Historically, many may associate disclosing with childhood but, in order to understand biofilm, adult patients also need to understand why disclosing is important in helping to make biofilm visible, often motivating them in their on-going oral hygiene.
For Lesley and her team, changing this mind-set has been an easier task than they anticipated.
‘Seeing is definitely believing – patients are often shocked when see the plaque that is left behind and comment on how dirty their mouth is so it’s a great motivational tool. Then, when they see that all the plaque that is removed at the end of their treatment, they can appreciate the benefits.
‘We have also found that many patients now disclose at home to monitor their plaque control between visits. As we have moved towards a more preventative approach within the practice, we have found that language can frequently be a barrier to patient understanding so, wherever possible, we try to replace a clinical term with something more patient friendly. In this way, we introduce the concept of biofilm as “soft plaque” or “plaque bacteria” and explain that this is the plaque or biofilm they are looking to remove at home.
‘Explaining things in clear, understandable terms helps patients to understand and commit to a new approach to their gum care.’
And the bottom line is that GBT has already demonstrated its worth.
Based on current performance, Lesley says she expects to see a ROI in excess of 300% in the first 12 months of introducing Airflow.
‘Offering GBT is undoubtedly a fantastic practice builder,’ she says. ‘It has attracted new patients to us, as we find existing patients go home and talk to their family and friends about the treatment. It is not unusual for us to get a call asking if they can register as a patient in order to have Airflow.
‘The initial unit had paid for itself within two to three months and we can now measure the contribution our hygiene team make to the overall business as we have seen our plan income grow by over 30% in 10 months and we are now looking to open an additional hygiene surgery.’
She concludes: ‘The fact that it is comfortable and offers quick delivery is a big appeal for patients and, for the practice team, it gives them confidence in knowing they can deliver an effective and efficient treatment to every patient.’