The hygienist’s blog – five ways to boost your practice income using your hygienist’s skillset

The Hygienist's BlogClaire Berry explores some of the avenues a hygienist can go down to help boost the income of dental practices.

We can sometimes overlook the fantastic opportunities that can come from having a hygienist at the practice. Not only is the hygienist’s role essential for prevention and patient care, it’s a smart move to boost your practice income.

Here are five ways you can boost practice income using a hygienist’s skillset.

1. Recalls

This may seem like an easy one, but you may miss out on repeat custom if not implemented properly.

It starts with a great teamwork approach, focusing on positivity toward the hygienist’s treatment. Referring clinicians need to emphasise the importance of seeing the hygienist and re-iterate that it is an ongoing need. The risk of periodontal disease and caries never goes away. So therefore the need to see a hygienist never waivers either.

Next, the hygienist should never let a patient leave without rebooking an appointment. And don’t be afraid to set the recall as you feel it is needed. I’ve been known to book two, four, eight or 12 weeks. It all depends on what you’re presented with at each appointment and it does fluctuate case by case.

Periodontal disease is a lifelong condition that will always need monitoring and maintaining. Therefore, treatment with the hygienist is a lifelong commitment in order to prevent future tooth loss. See the recall as essential.

2. Bleaching

Hygienists who are paid on a percentage basis and able to carry out tooth whitening under a GDP prescription will market tooth whitening like their life depends on it. It’s a great way for the hygienist to boost their own income. I know I like a whitening-heavy day list.

Those hygienists who are social media savvy will want patients to know of the whitening service your practice has to offer. It boosts their personal income. See it as free marketing for you and more patients through the door.

It also allows the dentists in the practice to do their thing. While the numerous visits whitening incurs is dealt with by the hygienist, it’s a win all round situation.

3. Introduce GBT

Let’s face it, patients often admit they dread seeing the hygienist. I’ve heard patients talk about treatment in jest like, “the water is cold and sensitive”, “the hygienist gives me a lecture”, “I feel like I’m drowning”, “is this a waterboarding exercise?” And then we ask them to come back in 3-6 months.

But what if the experience was comfy and actually enjoyable? Wouldn’t that be worth paying for?

The GBT experience with the master unit warms water to a comfortable 40 degrees. Pain free piezo technology does what it says on the tin. The plus powder tastes lovely. Pocket treatment and debridement is painless. It’s minimally invasive and cleans deeper for better results.

My patients pay nearly double for this treatment and they all rebook for it. Great for patients, great for prevention, great for the practice.

4. Oral health optimisation before restorative dentistry

Send all patients to the hygienist before any restorative work. See the hygienist as a gate keeper for any restorative work or implants.

Once the hygienist is happy that the foundations and oral health is stable enough to support the work that is needed, the patient is referred back to the dentist for treatment.

The idea is that oral health needs to be optimal to commence with further dentistry. Hence the name oral health optimisation, as opposed to ‘scale and polish’. Because it is so much more than that.

The patient then moves into an oral health maintenance phase, which is life long.

If at any point their oral health becomes sub optimal again, they can be moved back into the oral health optimisation programme.

It’s the best treatment for the patient, putting health as a priority and to make their dental work stand the test of time. From a litigation point of view it protects the dentist in cases such as implant placement. But as a by-product, it is also good for practice income.

5. Converting high cost treatments

Following a consultation, it is always good for a patient to see the hygienist.

For one, it prepares them with oral health optimisation before they go on to have any work done. But secondly, if the patient is still considering whether to go ahead, a hygienist is a good person for the patient to discuss options with.

I often have that chat with the patient and reassure them, or re-discuss their options. I’m often the one who, following their hygiene visit with me, gets them excited about the pending work they have been advised to have and I’m the one booking them in to start their treatment plan.

My favourite conversion to go ahead with is discussing Invisalign. They come to see me post consultation for their oral health optimisation, still thinking about their options.

My belief is a confident smile is priceless and I get genuinely excited with them for the journey they may be about to embark on, towards their new confident smile.

They always ensure they’re booked in after to get started…oh, booking it along with their hygiene recall of course!

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