Signs Your Dental Office Needs Additional Hygiene Hours

April 26, 2022

At a glance

  • Hygiene hours fuel growth: A strong hygiene department is a key element to the foundation of a successful dental practice. The hygiene team should facilitate lifelong, dedicated care for patients and garner referrals for new patients.
  • Know when to expand: There are signs that practice owners should assess to properly gauge whether they need additional hygiene hours to fulfill practice and patient needs.
  • Next steps: Aprio’s National Dental Practice can provide the professional guidance dentists need to expand their hygiene department through systems implementation that will help create patient longevity and new patient growth.

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The full story:

“Should I hire another hygienist? Should I add more hygiene hours?”

These are two of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our team’s clients and prospective clients. Typically, the need to expand your hygiene department or add an additional hygienist indicates a strong and growing practice.

But like many other aspects of dental practice ownership, the answers to these questions aren’t black and white; they depend on several factors that are unique to your dental practice, goals for the future and team dynamics. So, in order to unearth the appropriate answers, we’re sharing a few key considerations to keep in mind as you strategize your hygiene department and growth prospects.

But first: what impact does your hygiene team have on your business?

Your hygiene department is an important element of your practice’s overall success and typically produces up to 30% of the practice’s production. A hygienist working 32 hours a week and seeing one patient per hour can see approximately 800 patients in a six-month time period.

The issue is that hygiene care is the number-one appointment that patients cancel, or are a no show for, in most dental practices. In order to reduce the percentage of missed appointments and keep hygiene on your patients’ radar, you need to implement team training, processes and procedures that turn into regularly scheduled, repeat appointments. This is where making an investment in your hygiene team is essential.

How do you know when it’s time to invest in more hygiene hours?

First, how many active patients does the practice currently have? Do you have enough hygiene hours to service all of them and the number of new patients you are gaining? Of the active patients, how many of them are scheduled with their next hygiene appointment and how many are overdue?

In addition, take a look at your schedule and see when the next available opening is in the hygiene schedule.If a patient called today for an appointment, how long would they have to wait to get in? Would they choose to go to another practice if they couldn’t schedule within a reasonable period of time? Are you hesitant to add additional hours because of the many cancellations and no shows?  

This exercise can illuminate gaps in your hygiene team’s needs and help you identify whether additional hygiene hours are necessary to cover patient needs and thus create additional revenue for the practice.

What’s next?

Once hired, your clinical hygiene team must be proactive in creating a need for patients to schedule consistent recare appointments. In an ideal world, every hygiene patient would leave your office with their next hygiene visit scheduled for the appropriate length of time and monthly interval. Since that is not always possible for some patients, your hygiene protocol should rely on ample communication and a follow-up process that entices your patients to continue to come back. 

That’s where the help of a third-party professional team can come into play. Aprio’s National Dental Practice is comprised of experienced consultants who can help you institute processes and even tools to cultivate a strong, revenue-generating hygiene practice.

Click here to schedule a consultation with our team today.

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