OPG Patient Communication

We all know how to take an OPG, right? We’ve learnt about the focal trough, the magnification and double images, and we’ve practiced in clinics at university with the guidance of our tutors. The technical side is just one aspect though, with communication to the patient being another. This often isn’t taught in uni. In your first couple of months out in the real world, your communication may not be the best. You can come across as nervous, inexperienced, or actually end up with a bad image due to the patient not following the instructions.

Working for 5 years as a Radiographer, I ended up with a bunch of scripts in my head to follow for all the different imaging series I did. It made my work easier as I could just go into autopilot! Developing your own script is great, but if you want one less thing to worry about you can always try mine and adapt it as you see fit.

Delivery script

  • This machine is going to take an x-ray picture of all of your teeth out in a nice straight line
  • It will spin around your head for about 15 seconds while you stay still
  • Step into the machine and bite onto the mouthpiece into the groove, like this (Demonstrate edge to edge bite, not on the mouthpiece though!
  • Hold onto these handles so you can keep nice and still
  • I’m going to move the machine up/down, try to stand up straight and tip your head with the machine as it moves

Move machine to correct height, select correct settings and make any adjustments needed as per your OPG machine

  • I’m going to step outside while we take the picture. You’ll need to keep very still, push your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and you can have your eyes open or closed, it doesn’t make any difference

Step outside, begin exposure. While the machine is starting up:

  • Now keep very still and push your tongue onto the roof of your mouth. Very good, keeping nice and still…..

Finished!

It may sound silly to have a script ready to go for something as simple as taking an OPG, but its surprisingly easy to go blank! I’ve found this has always worked quite well for me and gives me a few minutes to stop thinking so hard. Some may prefer to give different instructions to minimise the palatoglossal airspace, but this has proved to be simple and effective in my experience. Happy zapping!

James is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW Australia. Read more at www.dentalheadstart.com/meet-james/

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