Dental Practice Solutions

Optimize your dental hygiene department by taking an integrated, team approach

  • Do you feel like you are working hard and your production is not increasing?
  • Do you feel like your hygiene department is under performing?
  • Is your hygiene department producing 25-30% of your total production?
  • Are hygienists in your office treating bloody prophys?
  • Does your hygiene department help enroll implant cases and high-end treatment?
  • Do you have one or more holes in your schedule daily?

I am so happy that you are here because we have answers and solutions to your challenges.

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Create a Successful and a Very Profitable Dental Hygiene Department: Part 1

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

December 10, 2014

profits 50 dollar bills

images (10)Recently, in a dental hygiene Facebook group a question was asked: “Does your hygiene department have a system for treating periodontal patients?”

Most people responded with a post that said “YES” and the woman who started this topic of conversation asked what their system included.

At this point no one responded. They all said “Yes” but it seems that no one was going to say what their specific system was. OR – – do they know what the system expected by doctor is AND does everyone on the team know and follow the vision of the doctor for his or her dental practice?

What does it take to create a clinically successful, productive, and profitable hygiene system within a dental practice?

During the twenty first century, research and technology in periodontics has created numerous, positive changes in the responsibilities of hygienists and the scope of technology available for practicing dental hygienists. These changes have created a big opportunity to achieve ideal preventive care for all of your patients.

Success and profitability for every dental practice means you will merge clinical excellence with solid business strategies.

Healthy profits should not only pertain to the dental hygiene department but we need to understand how this one department can support profits and sustain success for the entire dental practice. The dental hygiene department is only one component of success for a financially sustainable dental practice.

Over the next 2 weeks, I will discuss the goals, and roadblocks that you need to look at in order to make the department hygiene department productive and profitable. Also make note that while the hygiene department is more productive this does not mean “work more hours” or “work harder.” It simply means that you have created strategies and systems to work smarter and BE successful in all areas of your dental practice.

This week’s blog will discuss two important components to a healthy and profitable dental hygiene department.

Understanding and embracing these aspects of business in a dental practice will create a successful and a very profitable dental hygiene department


Today’s world, with the valuable science and research about oral health and its relationship to total health, creates an important reason to educate patients about WHY oral health and the purpose for routine preventive dental appointments.

Most dental practices have the words “excellence” or “optimal”, etc., as part of their vision and mission for the dental practice.

As healthcare providers and with this profound level of current research; understand that creating a successful dental practice will mean that you in the business of creating healthy and longer lives. A successful dental hygiene department requires a philosophy that includes the mouth-body connection that helps patients maintain and “keep their teeth for a lifetime.”

Embracing this thought process will create a successful and profitable dental hygiene department!

To begin building, restructuring or updating your dental hygiene department systems, both doctor and team must develop their own vision of what the ideal hygiene department should look like. Meet together as a team and have each team member give honest answers about what they believe are important for success. Ask for everyone’s input. Ask team members to come prepare with their thoughts. Now you can discuss as a team.

Your vision will include the purpose of the dental hygiene department and what the dental hygiene team hopes to accomplish for the patients, the practice, and themselves. Purpose is what leads people. Establishing your clearly defined purpose with guidelines will give your team the opportunity to set standards and to perform on principles not desire.

To begin creating your vision and your purpose for the hygiene department, consider developing and following the following essentials: goals of your dental practice, patient outcomes for periodontal therapy and healthy patients as well, thoroughly understand American Association of Periodontology (AAP. guidelines for the treatment of periodontal disease, maintenance of disease remission, when to refer to the periodontist, use of adjunctive therapies, and thoroughly understand oral-systemic relationships.


Lack of team is the main reason for low production in the dental hygiene department. A strong dental hygiene department will take a team approach to the preventive/periodontal philosophy of the practice. Everyone must be on the same page. To create a successful team approach every team member must have a clear understanding of their individual role as it relates to supporting and maintaining optimal patient oral health.

When you serve your patients to the best of your abilities, you will also serve the dental practice and the team at its highest level. The entire team must embrace the vision of the practice and the philosophy of care for all patients. When there is not a team approach patients will not completely understand the value of your services; especially the value of periodontal therapy which will create a healthier and longer life.

If you wish to have a productive and profitable hygiene department that will create success for your dental practice indefinitely, you must be dedicated to leadership, education and not think this process is “hit or miss.”


If you will take a stand and focus on optimal care for your patients you will have a profitable dental practice.

The public is bombarded with media advertisements about health and beautiful smiles. With all the media attention to have the perfect body and smile, dentistry has never been in a better place to treat patients with smile enhancements and most importantly, create a healthy body.

People buy what they want not what they need. If you can speak to all patients at their level, understand what their hot buttons are and what is valuable to them, you will hear more patients say “YES!” to your care, schedule and pay for treatment. They will also continue returning to your dental office no matter who their insurance company tells them they need to see!

What should your hygiene department numbers look like?

The hygiene department should bring in 30% of the total production. YES! Shocking? This is true!

Look at typical numbers our clients see after utilizing our services:

A Day in the Life of a Dental Practice Solutions Hygiene Department

4 Prophylaxis Appointments (4 X $95)                                         $  95

2 Scale and root planing Appointments (2 X $265)                    $265

Arestin® (6 Sites X $40/site)                                                          $240

2 Periodontal Maintenance (2 X $110)                                         $220

6 Fluoride Varnish Treatments (6 X $30)                                    $180

4 Identifi® Oral Cancer Screenings (4 X $60)                             $240

4 Patients X-rays (4 X $65)                                                             $260

 Production Total:                                                                           $1,500

The fees used in this example are not a guide for you to use in your dental practice but are used only to show an example of what a typical dental hygiene day can look like for your dental practice.


The success of your dental hygiene department needs to include a vision that the entire team supports. Total team approach is required for your dental practice to be successful and sustain profits for the life of your dental practice.

Profitability in all successful dental hygiene departments is directly proportional to the billable services provided. This success will also include scheduling to goal, as well as elimination of cancellations and no-shows. Next week in Part 2 of this blog, I will discuss how to eliminate no-shows and cancellations as well as establish the correct hygiene department compensation.

Next time someone asks if there is a system for their dental hygiene department they can refer to this article for creating a successful dental hygiene department. Implementing all of these components is the easiest way to create success and get the entire team on the same page.

Does you dental practice have an established philosophy of care for perio patients?

Do you have a schedule that is strategically set up to accomplish your goals?

Let us know about your dental practice in the comment section below. If there is a topic you want to know more about please do share.

ABOUT Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Debbie Seidel-Bittke is founder of Dental Practice Solutions, a global consulting and coaching business known as the leader in creating highly profitable and sustainable dental hygiene departments.

Debbie uses a specific innovative and strategic methodology to not only increase hygiene department production but works with the entire team to sustain true profitability for the life of a dental practice.

For 10 yrs. she has been known as one of Dentistry Today’s Top Practice Management Consultants.

Debbie speaks about dental hygiene department profitability and the services which create a profitable and sustainable dental practice.

Grab her 7 Day no-cost hygiene department profit program. Each day, for seven days, you will receive tips to increase your dental hygiene department production without working harder but like a well-oiled machine.

Click here get your no-charge 7 Day Hygiene Department Program