3 Things Hygienists Should Consider When Investing in Instruments and Equipment

Like a painter who prefers to use a certain brush, or even an IT professional who favors an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, dental hygienists also have a lot to say about the tools they use, which is why more practices are rethinking the way they equip staff.

According to recent surveys, more dental hygienists are interested in being able to select and, in some cases, purchase their own equipment. Although a practice owner oversees most every aspect of the dental environment, from scheduling to work hours and even the design of each treatment room, there are benefits to allowing a hygienist to take ownership of their equipment and other products and instruments, particularly when it comes to the selection of silver diamine fluoride, cordless hygiene handpieces, ultrasonic scaler inserts and fluoride varnish.

By allowing hygienists to select and purchase products, a practice can take advantage of their hygienist’s professional expertise, answering important questions about what equipment is needed and how these choices will work best to treat patients. Plus, a hygienist’s evaluation of products in the field allows them to have a better overall understanding of what will deliver the best possible outcomes. Selecting tools based on these criteria ensures they are the right fit for each hygienist, who tend to care for and maintain items that they purchased themselves far more proactively than ones that are supplied.

Here are three key considerations to make when selecting equipment:

  1. Performance: How well the product will ultimately perform, and whether it’s safe. Things to consider: How it works, how it’s stored, when it expires and whether it meets ADA standards.
  2. Credibility: Making sure the product is of good quality. This requires evaluating professional reviews and evidence-based research, and possibly even obtaining a product sample for testing.
  3. Cost: Cost should have as much, if not more, to do with quality compared to price. The price alone should never be the sole determining factor for making a purchase.

As more hygienists are making critical purchasing decisions, major dental suppliers also have taken important steps to enable individuals to make purchases through independent accounts rather than through practices. A major benefit from working with a reputable dental supplier is that all products are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not always the case when making purchases through online brokers and unauthorized dealers.

Selected references

American Dental Association. ADA policy on teledentistry. 2020.

MouthWatch. Teledentistry: What you need to know.

Richardson C. Empowered to purchase: Dental hygienists should attentively buy own tools of the trade. RDH. March 14, 2017.

Sass R, Valldejuly A. Teledentistry update: Navigating teledentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic. DLA Piper. March 27, 2020.

Turner M. How COVID-19 will impact the future of dentistry. RDH. March 16, 2020.

Versaci MB. COVID-19 pandemic shines light on telehealth services. New Dentist News. August 31, 2020.