Confident steps to perio success

Confident Dental Care has just added Preventive Practice of the Year 2010 to the clutch of awards that sits on a shelf behind its low-level reception desk in the practice which sits at the foot of a hill on one of the main roads into Stroud in Gloucestershire.

Its patient-friendly approach begins as you walk into reception to be met by warm, friendly staff – and, if you’re a patient – continues through treatment and aftercare. At the core of the practice’s approach is its Confident Steps to Health, a gem of a dental hygiene plan that is evidence based and has its roots in clinical research.

It has enabled the hygiene-led practice to improve patients’ perio results dramatically in the two years since putting it into place. Confident Steps to Health is the brainchild of joint principal dentist, Ewa Rozwadowska. Fellow principal, Colin Neil, joins her in revealing what makes a successful, award-winning preventive practice…

What makes a successful award-winning practice?
Who/what has been your inspiration?
Our main inspiration is our patients and team! Without them, we wouldn’t have a business! Also,  people who have always been consistent in their values and beliefs and have managed to make a success of their business despite setbacks. Ewa adds, Kevin Lewis is a big inspiration to me – and The Pankey Institute.

Did you have a vision of the kind of practice you wanted?
We wanted a practice where people could feel they were talking to a really good, honest friend; a practice where everyone working was valued for their skills and where people genuinely want to help, and an environment that reflects professionalism and yet was welcoming and comfortable.
Colin adds, and somewhere where we are all very proud to work.

Do you think the award could make a difference to number of patients you are attracting?
We hope that the award will attract people who are looking for and value quality and see us as a pro-active practice innovating within the profession. Also, we are keen to attract patients who want to prevent disease rather than just treating it. It offers us a USP of ‘external accreditation won by professional votes’. Ewa adds, this secures our own patients – and brings new referrals.

How do you do it differently?

• Passion and care
• All of the team contributes to the success of the practice with the variety of in-house skill
• Systematised processes for efficiency
• Clear vision of our intended end result
• Project based
• Experience and academic knowledge combined.

Working as a team – is this the secret of your success?
This is definitely the secret of our success and winning our other recent award for Private Dentistry Best Dental Team 2010 really underlines that. When everyone in the team is working at their optimal level, learning and contributing, then there is time and energy to think how we can do everything better. The team listens to and feeds back patient’s comments. Everyone is concerned with improving the patient journey, experience and outcomes and really understands what we are in business for – to help people be the best they can be!

Tell me about the children’s open week?
Once a year, the practice closes its doors to adults and we have a ‘themed’ children’s week and the practice is converted into a children’s practice. We see 400 patients in one week.
Each year, we change the theme, usually to coincide with something ‘current’ for the kids.  Last year, for example, we went down the lines of Alice in Wonderland as the film was being released and so we named the week ‘The Bad Hatter’s Teeth Party’!

Along with the theme we choose a positive message so this time it was centred around diet and avoiding sugars. The information is given at a variety of levels that suits each age group.
Again, this is a team event where everyone in the team has a specific role for the duration whether it be assisting the clinicians and hygienists, helping explain diet, brushing, etc to the kids or merely just keeping things orderly, fun and exciting in the waiting room!
Children attend in family groups for examinations, practical exercises and take-home messages but we always ensure that it is a positive learning experience every time.
Ewa adds, over a child’s development, they will receive a systematic education in all aspects of preventive care. Our programme has been running for over 20 years, and we have many ‘graduates’ who have superb oral health – for life.

Will you market yourself as award winners?
Definitely! Within the practice, we hope to increase word-of-mouth referrals from existing patients. We have already included that we are winners of the award in our practice newsletter, in recalls letters, as a logo on our website and in emails.
We have contacted the local press about the award to raise the profile of the practice and to grow our market. We want people to understand the importance of preventive dentistry within the industry.

With working in conjunction with dental companies such as Oral-B and the Florida Probe (Clark Dental has also contacted us asking if they can promote our winning story), we will spread the word and we will promote our Steps to Health Gum Care programme to other practices as a system providing evidence to the CQC.

We will also flag it up in our training information to raise our professional credibility.

Will you recommend to anyone considering entering the awards?
Recommendation is to enter awards generally – especially if you think you have something the public or profession will be inspired by. They give the whole team a sense of being valued. Awards help to crystallise why your practice is different and what you do really well and helps to mix with other like-minded innovative practices. Most importantly, it is another really good way of advertising what you do well to your patients and not just being a ‘dentist’ – it’s important to been seen to be taking things that step further.

Was the business model, opportunity re: Confident Steps to Health, incidental to the need to provide patients with a tangible measure of their own dental health?
The business model for Steps to Health was developed collectively with our team in response to patients not always booking recommended appointments with our hygienists because we felt the patient did not fully understand the reasons and benefits for coming back – in other words, we previously did not communicate sufficiently well for the patients to appreciate and buy into the concept of preventive care and gradual improvement in health which Confident Steps to Health has now addressed.

Have you had any companies show interest in the system?
Oral-B is interested in the development of the programme, as is Clark Dental (Florida Probe). We have already had interest from a number of practices as a way of rationalising gum care for dentists, hygienists and reception team in response to CQC outcome-led treatment programmes that can be measured.

On what will you spend the £500?
In two years of using the system, what improvements have you seen?
The £500 (thank you very much Oral-B!) will be spent in developing the IT aspect of Steps to Health to improve the reporting capacity of the programme – and maybe a couple of bottles of champagne to celebrate!
• Increased booking in hygienist diaries.
• Patients have improved their gum care
• Confidence by all team members that we know where each patient is in their journey to health
• Better communication between hygienists and patients
• An appreciation of ALL the services our hygienists can offer
• Patient literature substantiating each step.

How successful is your recall system and why?
It is new and tailored to the needs of each type of gum care patient with flowcharts for each Step to Health. It also makes it much easier for the team to justify the recommended forward appointment and better for the patients to understand WHY they should be returning.

Generally, do you think the profession misunderstands how vital it is to treat gum disease alongside decay?
The profession knows the importance of gum care but often it takes a long time to explain to a patient their condition because it’s often not painful or visible until it’s too late. We believe Steps to Health streamlines the whole process so that it is easier to convince patients to accept responsibility, attend a personalised course of treatment for their individual periodontal category and so then continue accepting the benefits of preventive care for their own health.

To enter this year’s award…

The new Dental Hygiene & Therapy Award is designed to recognise the UK practice with the strongest, best established and well thought out preventive ethos, whether it be NHS, private  or mixed. As a team, you will successfully communicate the oral health message to your patients, you will work together to raise oral health standards and you will regard prevention as your number one priority above all else.

Who will be judging?
An independent panel of judges including members of the Preventive Dentistry editorial board will compile a shortlist of finalists from all entries received, at which point the position of power is passed over to you, the readers of Preventive Dentistry.
The finalists will be presented in the March 2012 issue (excerpts from their entries will be published). The readers will be asked to vote for the practice that they believe deserves the title of Dental Hygiene & Therapy Award 2011. The practice that receives the most votes will be crowned the winner.

How do I enter?
To enter, submit your details and 500 words explaining why your practice deserves to win. You may submit as much material as you wish to support your claims such as photographs  (please send hard copies as well as electronic), patient testimonials or PR.
The more effort you make to present clear reasons why you should win, the more impressed the judges will be.

If you would like to pre-register, please email your details to

Is there a prize?
If you are lucky enough to win, you will be celebrated as an example of excellence to dental practitioners up and down the country. You will also win £500 for your practice to  spend as you wish. Perhaps you could use it for a sophisticated

team night out, or that new piece of equipment you’ve had your eye on.
This Award will help you get your practice the recognition it deserves.

What is the deadline?
All entries must be received by Friday 13 January 2012. Enter now…

Thanks to our sponsor
Thank you to our official sponsor, Oral-B – without their support, this award would not be possible.

Call 01923 851751 or email today to register.

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