Long term patient relationships are built in the hygiene chair, which is why your hygiene team is so important for dental practice growth. Your hygiene team also contributes significantly to practice production—really good hygiene teams can average 30 – 35% of total production or more. If your hygiene team is struggling to produce as expected, it’s typically caused by one of three things: missed opportunities to provide care for patients, unfilled openings in the hygiene schedule, or production write offs from PPO involvement. Let’s examine how to address the first challenge.
Missed opportunities to provide recommended care for patients typically comes from a breakdown in teamwork and protocols. For example, when a new dental patient enters the practice, the dental team is often rushed. If the new patient needs treatment for gum disease, little time is devoted to patient education, and the explanation given to the patient is typically full of confusing dental terminology: deep pockets, perio, and scaling, which do little to communicate value and need.
Consider how you can improve teamwork in your practice for new and existing patients. This includes reserving appropriate time for new patients, having effective hand-offs between the hygienist and dentist, and using patient-friendly terminology when discussing treatment for gum disease.
Also consider your protocols for treating gum disease, especially when patients need limited perio therapy. What are your criteria? How do you discuss the need for treatment with a patient who is new to the practice versus someone who comes in regularly?
Discuss with your hygiene team additional opportunities to help patients with fluoride, sealants, and antimicrobials, and review your recommended recall interval for patients who present with heavy stain and calculus.
Fortunately, when you do what is best for patients, production follows. One of the keys to improving hygiene production, therefore, is to fine-tune your teamwork and protocols to ensure you are guiding patients to the best care possible.