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Hygiene 101 by Sally Morgan

In my recent blog post, which focused on maximizing the selling price of your practice, one of the strategies I recommended was to improve and maximize your recall system.  Many dental practices for sale however have over looked this area important to the practice. Today we are excited to have Sally Morgan, a registered hygienist and an experienced practice management consultant, give us a recipe for success in this important area of your practice.  We highly recommend Sally and her company for your practice management consulting needs and especially to those dental practices for sale! ” Patrick Johnston, McLerran & Associates-Houston 

Often the hygiene department is viewed as a “necessary evil” in order to keep the patients returning to the dental practice. In fact, the hygiene department can and should be the “life” of the dental practice.

There are four primary areas that are used to measure the success of the hygiene department.

First, are at least 75-80% of your patients active in the recare system? That is where the patients are “retained’ in the practice and if the number is lower than that, you are likely losing more patients than you are gaining. This is often a sure sign that the practice might be in decline. Evaluate the protocol for scheduling the recare patient. Is the practice “pre-scheduling’? Is there a system for reminding the patients of their appointment? Who is in charge of this system? How are the staff confirming the appointments? If the confirmation call is not made correctly, it is often an opportunity for the patient to cancel the appointment!

Second, is your hygiene department producing 25-30% of the overall production in the practice? If not, consider evaluating the scheduling for the hygienist. If the schedule is full and your hygienist is not reaching the daily goal there is likely no block booking in place or the blocks for hygiene are not being honored by the scheduler. Do you have enough “hygiene days’ for the practice to handle all of the patients? Is there someone accountable for scheduling the hygiene department to a goal?

Third, your hygiene department should be generating 30% or more from periodontal procedures (i.e. scaling and root planing, periodontal maintenance, and procedures associated with your periodontal protocol). Again, this could be a scheduling issue or it could be that the periodontal protocol is not being implemented properly (or both!). Is there a written protocol for treating periodontal disease in the practice? Patient treatment needs are always customized, but the protocol should be established and effectively communicated in order to give the hygiene department treatment parameters.

And last but not least, the hygiene department should be generating restorative opportunities for the doctor. Are you tracking the amount of diagnosed treatment coming out of the hygiene department? How much of that is being scheduled before the patient leaves? At least 50% of the treatment out of the hygiene department should be scheduled prior to the patient leaving. The hygienist spends valuable time with the patients creating rapport and discussing treatment needs with them. Any incomplete treatment from prior visits should be brought to the doctor’s attention at the morning meeting and a plan made to revisit the treatment needs with the patient.  The doctor and hygienist can work together to provide better communication with the patient and create value for needed treatment.

All of these factors work together to enhance the quality of care for the patients, to maintain an outstanding working environment for the hygienist and create a healthy, supportive hygiene department for the patients of the practice.

Sally Morgan, RDH has been successfully consulting with dental practices around the country since 1991. She has effectively implemented management systems in over 100 dental practices. Sally can be contacted at or by phone at 210.771.6775 or email her at


Dental Practices for Sale

This article is brought to you by Mc Lerran & Associates specializing in Dental Practices for Sale.

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