“The Argument for Going against Logic on Length of Hygiene Appointments”

by Rachel Wall, RDH, BS

Is the hygiene schedule working for you or against you?
Are shorter hygiene appointments really more productive?

With the trend of lower third party reimbursements, it’s understandable that there be thought to reducing the time scheduled for hygiene appointments. However, is that the best thing for your business? I believe the answer is NO!

It’s no secret that time management is a major challenge with most practices’ hygiene departments. Challenging some long-held beliefs about the purpose and process of the recare appointment can result in improved efficiency, profitability and care. With protocols and training in place, longer hygiene visits can, and should, pay off big time for your practice and patients.

The return on investment from longer hygiene appointments comes in many forms.

More appointment time creates the opportunity for:

• The office team to build deeper relationships with patients leading to higher rates of retention,
case acceptance and referrals
• Better retention of hygiene staff
• Higher levels of enrollment in additional same-day services
• Improved diagnosis and comprehensive treatment recommendations

More time actually allows your hygienist to make every appointment more profitable. When the hygienist now has 50-60 minutes for a periodontal maintenance procedure, he/she can now include a possible site(s) of local antibiotics, laser therapy, fluoride varnish or enroll in additional periodontal therapy when there is active disease present.

To create more profitable, longer hygiene visits, you must have the following in place:

• Training and tools for consistent perio and restorative co-diagnosis and treatment enrollment
• Technology to increase hygiene efficiency-modern ultrasonics and air polishers
• Intra-oral cameras and digital radiographs to increase hygienists ability to enroll restorative
and perio care
• Written expectations and accountability for how the additional time is to be used
• Incentives for the entire team to support enrollment in perio and restorative procedures


$68/day increased profit x 180 working days/year = $12, 240 increased profit per hygienist per year.  Note this increased profit doesn’t include the increased restorative treatment enrolled in hygiene.

Now we’re talking! Multiply this number by the # of hygienists in your practice/DSO and you can see why more time per patient means a much healthier bottom line. It’s time to re-think outdated beliefs around scheduling, and treat the hygiene department in all your offices for what they are—the “lifeblood” of the practice–and a major factor in profitability!

Rachel2012-medRachel Wall is founder of Inspired Hygiene, Inc., helping dental teams and DSO’s in the US and Canada take their hygiene department to new heights. To learn more, request the free CD ’10 Essentials to Elevating Your Hygiene Service, Systems & Profits’ at www.InspiredHygiene.com or email for more information at info@inspiredhygiene.com