Hygiene Philosophy Meeting

Having a productive and effective hygiene department adds significant value to today’s dental practice. A dental team that maximizes their dental hygiene department to promote long term health, support restorative and adjunctive services becomes a key solution in each patient’s well being and long term commitment to the practice. In turn the effective hygiene department can be a vital component to practices’ productivity and long term success.

In the same manner as we conduct our new patient examination we must first assesses what we currently do/ have as systems in the dental hygiene department. To take a good look at the successes and challenges in your continuing care department and how to; a la Emeril Lagasse, “take it up a notch” we recommend conducting a hygiene philosophy meeting with the entire team.

The goal of a hygiene philosophy meeting is to support and promote the practice’s vision and values, along with establishing or enhancing a proactive periodontal therapy and re-care program. By creating guidelines and processes based on the practice values and sound clinical information, the team can insure success and profitability through Continuing Care in the practice.

The hygiene philosophy meeting(s) start with a dialogue about what type of hygiene treatment and services are being provided currently in your practice. Some of the questions that can be asked to support this dialogue include:
  1. Are we an occupational dental hygiene department that provides treatment for disease and focuses on traditional therapies?
  2. Do we treat patients based upon insurance guidelines vs. doctor hygiene established guidelines?
  3. As a professional department, do we partner with our patients for their dental and medical needs and work with our patients based upon their needs, wants and desired outcomes?
To support discussion on the clinical aspects of the hygiene philosophy meeting, the dentists and hygienists can focus on the clinical assessments and outcomes desired for the patients and the practice. These clinical assessments and outcomes include:

Periodontal Assessment Questions
  • What is our philosophy regarding minimum and ideal charting (restorative and periodontal assessment)
  • When was the last complete periodontal charting done for most of our patients?
  • Is a complete full mouth probe done on each patient once a year as a minimum? And how are the assessments used in the most effective manner?
  • Are recession, mobility, furcations, and bleeding points recorded regularly?
  • Do patients have a treatment plan for diagnosed periodontal disease? (Is there a dental hygiene treatment plan included in the dental treatment plan?)
  • Do we have an established periodontal protocol which uses the patients’ assessments to determine treatment and periodontal intervals?
  • Do we have a regular soft tissue management program that supports and promotes our periodontal protocol for all patients?
  • Do the hygienist and the doctor meet with the team to educate them on new procedures, protocols and products and the advantages for the patients?
Adjunctive Services
  • Do we have a radiographic protocol that provides guidelines for all radiographs based upon the patient’s individual needs?
  • What verbal skills do we utilize to promote hygiene and radiographic protocols and treatment?
  • Do patients receive consistent education about home care that is customized based on their desires?
  • Is there a process for scheduling patients for status exams?
  • Do we charge extra for extensive conversations about home care?
  • Are we utilizing adjunctive services that benefit the patient such as Arestin, Visilite, Zoom, teeth whitening, lasers, micro ultasonics?
  • Are these services/care modalities offered to at least 60% of your patients?
Once consensus has been reached as to new actions, strategies and priorities to enhance the Continuing Care experience, it is vital for the team to set protocols on how to measure success. The meeting can then focus on how these benchmarks will be monitored. Questions to help the team celebrate success include:
  • What is our hygiene department production per month and year to date? Do we have a goal for this?
  • Is hygiene production 25-45% of our total office production?
  • Are 85% of our patients active in continuing care?
  • Are patients that are referred out to specialist monitored for consistent evaluations for their additional dental needs?
  • Do we track significant restorative out of the hygiene chair using a patient of record monitor?
  • Does the team review monthly monitors to share successes and obstacles to patient accepting the care they need?
  • Do 90% of our hygiene patients accept recommended treatment?
  • Are cancellations and no shows less than 5%
An effective dental hygiene department is one which has an established philosophy of care that supports and promotes the dentist and team’s vision and values. A Philosophy meeting is a great way for the team to truly focus on how to make the ideal Continuing care experience a reality. Go ahead have a meeting and watch your patients of record become more inspired and committed to a lifetime of oral health!

To find out more about Amy Morgan and The Pride Institute, visit www.prideinstitute.com or visit the DENTRIX Resource Center and watch the recorded Webinar with Amy Morgan "Finding Hidden Treasures in Hygiene."

Author: Amy Morgan and Merry Cosgrove, RDH, MS
Published: 10/06/2009
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