Dental hygienists are one of the most crucial players in your practice’s growth. Oftentimes, they're producing 30% of the practice’s revenue or more. With such an important role to play, it’s no surprise that they can get burnt out or overwhelmed. That’s why there are groups like the Trapped in an OP Facebook community, where hygienists and other dental professionals encourage one another and discuss how to keep their heads above water amidst the chaotic world of dentistry.

On a Smiles at Sea cruise, Wendy Briggs reminded hygienists that production isn't the goal. In fact, she believes high production comes more easily when hygienists focus on doing the right thing for patients. Here are three ways your dental hygienist can help grow your practice just by doing the right thing for your patients.

Promote preventative care products to patients.

Patients rarely know what they need to do for preventative care, other than brushing or flossing. They forget things like how the soda they have at lunch every day is gradually causing tooth decay. They forget that they need to brush and floss twice a day. Then they come in for a cleaning and the hygienist spots a cavity. When this happens, they usually don’t attribute the cavity to a lack of preventative therapy. They might say bad teeth run in their family. They'll find some excuse because of the risk factors they’re failing to recognize are unclear to them.

Your hygienist knows a lot more about how to prevent dental problems than your patients do. It’s up to them to have a discussion with patients about preventative therapies. It's their duty to help patients understand the risk factors like low Ph beverages, prescription medications, and so on. Patients will then realize they’re having dental problems because they aren’t preventing them from happening. And once they understand the risk factors that they have, they’ll be much more willing to accept the preventive care products that your practice has to offer. 

Your dental hygienist can make a surprising amount of profit for your practice be selling preventative care products. These products could be something like a type of toothpaste to help strengthen enamel. Or they could be a special fluoride paste to help stop gums from receding. But the hygienists should keep in mind that they’re not just selling products. Their goal isn't to increase the bottom line for the practice. They need to take pride in the fact that they’re preventing dental emergencies from happening. Their focus should be on improving the dental health of your patients. That will keep them coming back and telling all their friends about you. It will also make them trust your treatment plans more when they have a more significant need arise.

Help present treatment plans in simple terms.

Sixty-four million Americans have a periodontal disease of some level. But according to Wendy, we only code out 3% of our coding in that periodontal category. That's a tremendous performance gap where patients have a demonstrated need but, as an industry, we’ve struggled to perform well. 

Wendy said that this performance gap is often due to the complexity of how dental hygienists explain periodontal therapies to patients. Your hygienist can simplify the process by focusing on helping patients really understand why they need periodontal treatment. They should then explain the treatment in layman’s terms. Just a 5% boost in the number of patients accepting treatment in the periodontal category can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue a year.

Be proactive with scheduling.

Many practices have millions of dollars ready to be made in unscheduled appointments. Make sure your hygienist becomes a patient treatment advocate. They need to be proactive instead of just telling a patient about treatment options and hoping they’ll schedule an appointment.

In proactively encouraging a patient to move forward with the treatment they need, they can increase the productivity of your practice. An increase in productivity can be the simple shift that leads to the revenue your practice needs to grow. And it's not about telling patients to schedule appointments for unnecessary dentistry. There is so much necessary dentistry that's already been discussed that sits unscheduled in many dental practices.

Is your dental hygienist helping your practice grow?

Your dental hygenist has the potential to serve patients at a higher level. They can do that just by focusing on helping the patient change their lives for the better. And they can do that by recognizing their role as the catalyst to that change. Dentistry is not about being productive, it’s about changing lives. When your dental hygienist begins focusing on that they will maximize and magnify their roles. That'll help your team to grow a more successful practice.

If you’re interested in more content like this or want to surround yourself with a community of uplifting, positive, and inspirational dental professionals, join the Trapped in an OP or Dental Hub 360 Facebook groups today!