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How The Dental Hygiene Department Impacts The Practice

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

In this blog we are focussing on the hygiene department and the impact it has on the dental practice. We will be looking at what makes a strong hygiene department that benefits the practice, as well as what makes this integral department weaken the practice. We are looking at the importance of how hygienists positively impact dental practices and the patients.

Based on a ratio of 1:1 dentist / hygienist, a strong hygiene department will produce 25 - 35% of gross practice production (GPP). If hygiene is producing more than 35% of GPP, either the hygiene department has a ratio of 1:2 or greater, or the restoration/cosmetic department is weak. Conversely, if hygiene is producing less than 25% of GPP, either the restoration/cosmetic department has a ratio of 2:1 or greater, the restorative/cosmetic department is producing very high pph consistently. Or the hygiene department is weak!

What are the key elements that make a hygiene department strong?

1st it starts with the hygienists' ability to build relationships with the patients.

2nd hygienists should be producing approximately 3 X their wages.

3rd 75 - 80% of restorative production should come from the hygiene department.

4th 30 - 35% of scheduled hygiene appointments should be perio visits.

5th Downtime should never be higher than 5% of open schedule time.

Patients trust, rely and respect hygienists. They are positioned to promote restorative and cosmetic procedures to patients. Hygienists are the practices' first set of eyes and the initial conversation with patients on their oral health. Educating hygienists on restorative and cosmetic procedures not only increases their knowledge and competence, it increases the practices overall production.

The hygiene department needs to be responsible for scheduling recare and perio appointments. Who better understands and knows the hygiene needs of the patients? Who is in a better position with the patient still in the chair to schedule the next appointment? of course the answer is the hygienist! Every patient needs to leave the hygiene department with an upcoming appointment.

Let's delve into what the cost is to the practice when we have holes in the hygiene schedule. It is of paramount importance to track the schedule. Let's remember, downtime should never be higher than 5%. When we have one opening in the schedule a day, based on the average hygiene visit to be $170.00 that is a loss of $850.00 a week, $3400.00 a month and $40,800.00 per year in lost hygiene revenue. Now, calculate the loss of revenue to the restorative/cosmetic department on top!

Building our hygiene departments, builds stronger dental practices! When scheduling hygiene appointments, the team must look at the individual patient's needs.

1st Every adult patient scheduled annually for full mouth perio charting and x-rays

2nd Identify patient's periodontal needs and design a perio program for each patient

3rd Add restorative hygiene, oral cancer screening, tooth whitening and smile analysis to the schedule.

Considering adding a restorative hygienist to the team? Restorative dental hygienists perform restorative and preventive procedures, such as placing and finishing composite, and temporary restorations, taking final impressions, and cementing provisional and indirect restorations. Strong dental practices become stronger with restorative hygienists!

We all know and value the strength that hygienists bring to the dental practice. Hygienists build strong relationships with patients, they nurture and feed the dental practice. When dental hygienists are given the opportunity to learn and grow they become invaluable members of the team who propel the practice.

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