When it comes to utilizing technology in the dental office, there are many options to choose from. New software, gadgets and applications are always being developed to try to make the dental office more efficient and keep things flowing well. As a dental hygienist in a pediatric office, I enjoy using the Apple Watch to help stay on schedule and to keep things running smoothly. Any tool that I can use that will help me improve the patient experience while keeping my day organized, I’m willing to try. If you’re not quite sure what exactly the watch can do other than give you the time and respond to text messages, this article may help provide some insight into how you can able to use some of the features in your dental office.
Here are a few ways that I’m able to utilize the features of the Apple Watch as a dental hygienist:
Keep in Mind
I have chosen to activate the following features by pressing the digital crown on my Apple Watch, I don’t use the “Hey Siri” feature. If you have Listen for “Hey Siri” enabled, you will not need to use the digital crown at all to activate these commands.
If you’re afraid of using an Apple Watch because of the potential for infection control issues, remember that the watch should be covered by the glove that you are wearing by pulling it up over the watch. You can still access the digital crown of the watch and you can still access the voice commands via “Hey Siri.” To clean the watch, be sure to wipe off the watch with a disinfecting wipe and use the sport band as it is a fluoroelastomer material. After doing some research into what exactly “fluoroelastomer” is, I discovered that it is a “special purpose fluorocarbon-based synthetic rubber” and that it has “wide chemical resistance.” In addition to using the sport band, I have a screen protector on the face of the watch to keep it protected from the chemicals and scratches.
When working with children, knowing their weight is important for various reasons. One reason the clinician should know the weight of the child is so the clinician can calculate how much local anesthetic can be safely given during the treatment visit. In our pediatric dental office, each child will step on the scale and will be weighed in kilograms. Parents always want to know how it translates to pounds. All I have to do is press the digital crown and ask my watch “What is 34.7 times 2.2?” The calculator will be able to quickly convert that to pounds before the parent gets out their calculator on their cell phone. I realize we could just have the parent calculate it themselves but it’s an easy way to show them that we care and it doesn’t take much time to calculate with the Apple Watch.
When it’s time to administer the local anesthetic, you can speak into your watch using the same voice commands as above to calculate the amount of local anesthetic that can safely be given.
In the state that I live in, dental hygienists are able to use silver diamine fluoride (SDF) on patients after it has been prescribed by a dentist. Silver diamine fluoride requires the liquid to be placed on the area of decay for a certain amount of time for the best results. When it’s time to start the timer, I can easily reach up, activate the crown on my watch (covered by the glove) and ask the watch to “Set the timer for 60 seconds.” The timer will then start to count down and will vibrate to notify me when the 60 seconds have passed. It’s a very easy method to keep track of time. By simply raising your wrist and looking at the watch, you can see how much time is left and verbally countdown to the patient if they need that extra motivation.
I also work with children as a Myofunctional Therapist to assist with tongue resting posture and to improve swallowing patterns. Many exercises require that the patient do the exercises for a certain amount of time. For example, I will ask the patient to keep their tongue in a certain position for 60 seconds. As I am demonstrating the exercise with my own tongue, I need to be focused on my technique and the technique of the patient. I don’t want to be distracted by looking at a timer, I want to be focused on the patient. I will simply press the digital crown on my watch and say, “Set timer for 60 seconds” and the timer will start to countdown. I can then fully focus on my patient and the technique and not have to worry about how much time is left.
It’s no secret how hectic things can get in the dental office. Dealing with patients, parents, co-workers on top of your daily obligations can be overwhelming at times. When you’re trying to multi-task, things are going to be forgotten from time to time when you’re trying to do too much at once. One way to stay on task is to use your Apple Watch to set reminders for you.
There are daily, weekly and monthly tasks that I am responsible for at work. Trash must be taken out, restocking must be done at the end of the day and the list goes on and on. When you’re working with patients, trying to finish notes and trying to get the daily tasks done, it can be a challenge remembering to do everything before you clock out for the day. I have found it helpful to press the digital crown on my watch and say “remind me to take out the trash at 4:30 today” or “remind me to restock the referral cards in 15 minutes.” Anytime I think to myself ‘Don’t forget to (insert any task here)’, I will go directly to my watch and ask it to set a reminder for me.
For the monthly tasks, I can ask my watch to “remind me to check the fire extinguishers on April 27th” and a reminder will be created. When April 27th comes around, a reminder will show up reminding you to check the fire extinguishers.
Apple Watches, or smart watches in general, may not be the best option for everyone. I enjoy technology and appreciate the gadgets that can help improve my job performance. Obviously, it’s not the only option for calculations, timers or reminders. However, I consider it to be one tool in my “toolbox” that is accessible and easy to use.