September 2014
Volume 10, Issue 9

Improving Hygiene Production

Add practice value by maximizing this important revenue stream

Mary Lynn Wheaton, RDH, BS, MA

Setting hygiene production goals can provide a tremendous value to the assessment and management of a practice. To ensure success, production goals should be set as a team. Taking stock of your systems—ones that are working well and ones that need attention—will involve everyone in the practice and help to clarify the actions needed to grow the practice.

Doing Your Homework

Gather historical facts about the hygiene department to serve as a baseline, which should include last year’s actual production for each hygienist, the number of days worked, production per day, procedure mix, unfilled hours, and fees. These statistics are essential for evaluating past hygiene production.

For the next step, you will need both the total office production goal and the anticipated dentist production goal for the year. The difference between the total office production goal and the dentist production goal will be the hygiene department goal. It is important to establish the dentist production goal first, as this goal has a greater potential for increase than the hygiene goal.

Hygienists must anticipate the number of days they will be working for the year, excluding time out of the office for vacations, continuing education courses, and holidays. Dividing the hygiene department goal among the hygienists is the next task. To find the daily goal for each hygienist (Table 1), divide the hygiene department goal by the number of days worked.

Making It Happen

In discussion with your hygienists, determine what training and continuing education courses are needed and what new procedures should be provided. In addition, think about how verbal skills and communication during patient debriefs and handoffs to other team members can be improved and what system enhancements can be scheduled. Possible improvements can include an increase in fees, increased use of the intraoral camera, an improved protocol for handling cancellations and no shows, a new courtesy reminder system, enhanced data gathering for periodontal assessments, an improved patient education system, and scheduling hygiene appointments in the hygiene operatory.

Assigning some of these actions to each quarter of the year will align the specific improvements needed with each quarter’s increased goal. In general, incremental increases in daily goal per quarter per hygienist should be between $20 and $40. Follow these steps and you will have a working document to assist you in setting clear, realistic goals that involve and engage your team, are achievable and timely, and make a measurable impact on the practice’s bottom line.

About the Author

Mary Lynn Wheaton is director of consulting at Pride Institute (, a dental practice management consulting group that has served the dental profession since 1974.

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