Why Work So Hard?
Many dental practices believe that providing less time for dental hygiene appointments will bring more production. Although this may be true initially, in the long-term this is often not the case. Do you want your patients to come in, get some of the necessary work done and possibly never return? Or do you want your patients to come in, stay long-term and potentially see more than one generation in your practice because they have been a patient of yours for so long.
When I graduated college as a hygienist, I wanted to find a forever home. I wanted to be with a practice where I would grow with my patients, and where I could watch my patients have their families grow. I would say I succeeded at that, as I have now been with the same practice for over 26 years. It is a practice that believes in long-term patients and quality of care.
If you are not allowing enough time in the hygiene schedule, whether you are a hygienist who determines the amount of time or a doctor, then you are not doing yourself or your patients a favor. I have cleaned up more patients than I can count who had root planing done in another office only a few weeks prior. The reason is often because the hygienist did four 1-4 teeth quadrants in an hour and a half or less, and did not truly provide the periodontal therapy the patient needed.
Consumers are much more educated now, and they know what to expect when it comes to a hygiene appointment. I also educate my patients specifically on why it is important to have the correct amount of time to benefit the health of their mouths.
Many practices do not allow enough time for the new patient exam that is done in the hygiene department. Remember, this is the first impression patients have of your office. If the patient feels they did not get a complete exam, it may be their last time in your chair. The patient should perceive that all of their concerns and questions have been answered by the end of the new patient exam. They should not feel that the appointment was rushed in any way. They need to feel comfortable and know that your practice is taking care of them.
If the time is not allowed, there may be restorative needs that are not gone over thoroughly, or worse, not even diagnosed. This is not a good thing when you want the patient to accept treatment. Providing adequate time in the hygiene schedule can increase the overall production of the office. Allow enough time for restorative needs to be diagnosed by the doctor, and for the hygienist to review with the patient why they are needed – whether it’s an existing patient returning for their hygiene appointment, periodontal maintenance, or a new patient.
When I say “adequate time in the hygiene schedule” I am referring to the time necessary to perform all of the recommended treatment for the day. Hygienists should be making sure all of the full mouth series and bitewing series are up-to-date according to office policy. If the patient has a questionable area, don’t just brush it off. Have the doctor come in and check the area. Do adult fluorides when it’s in the patient’s best interest.
The patient may always be moved if the time was not provided, but you do not want them sitting in a room waiting and making them stay longer than anticipated without their permission. This may encourage a patient to seek treatment elsewhere.
All of this can help increase production of the entire practice, not just the hygiene department. After all, it is the profit margin that really makes a difference when it comes to team members’ paychecks and being able to afford to run your practice. It is key to have patients in the chair who will return, accept treatment, and be long-term.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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