Is Your Hygiene Department A Profit Centre?

I was recently discussing with one of my clients the decision she was having to make as to whether or not she should begin employing a dental hygienist.

So we started doing the math.

And that made the decision easy.

Firstly, we categorised all the patients in the practice into six categories.

The key metric that we took from doing this exercise was that, for this question, we were looking for how many patients of record would we consider to be regular attenders of the practice?

These patients were then divided into those who had been coming for more than three years, and those regulars who had been coming for less than three years.

We then looked at the actual number of teeth cleaning appointments that had been performed in the last three months by the doctor.

Thirdly, we looked at how many new patients were coming to the dental office on a monthly basis.

Here’s what we did with those numbers:

  • The number of regular patients, multiplied by two and divided by twelve, equals the number of regular preventive care hygiene appointments that the new hygienist would see in a month.
  • The number of new patients who book for a check up per month [already] becomes the New Patient First Hygiene appointment number for the month.
  • Adding these two numbers and dividing by nine [hours in a day] gives us a number of days in the month a hygienist would be required.

Having arrived at that number, it was just a matter of then working out whether or not to stretch to a full time hygienist immediately?

Dividing that last number by two [because our doc was performing thirty minute hygiene cleans and our hygienist would perform hourly appointments] gave us an idea of how much time we were going to create each month in the doctor’s schedule so that the doc could then see more new patients, and also do more productive procedures as well.

So David, I’ve heard that hygiene should be a loss leader for the Dental Office?

Categorically, I say this is a thought that no dental office should ever entertain.

A hygiene department should be a profit centre for the Dental Office.

Let me explain.

Try these numbers…If every patient seen in the hygiene room has two bitewing radiographs every two years, and comes to the dental office twice a year for hygiene, then the hygienist should be easily able to set a daily goal.

Nine appointments x hygiene fee [say $195.00]

Nine x 1/2 of a bitewing [say $80.00]

Gives us a daily hygiene production goal = $2115.00 per day.

Multiply that number by days per month, and then by twelve to arrive at an annual hygiene production number for that hygienist.

Based on these numbers a good hygienist working four days per week should generate over $36,000.00 in fees out of her room per month.

And there’s a good starting point….

Run your numbers through this equation and let me know what you come up with.

In future blogs I’ll talk about assisted co-diagnosis of treatment from the hygiene room, and I’ll also cover what sort of pay structures I’ve seen in use in some of the better Dental Offices I’ve worked with…


Well structured productive hygiene is one key  part of  building and operating The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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