Supporting Your Hygiene Department

Your dental office staff should together to support each other for the benefit of the patient.

While dental offices were closed for non-emergency treatment, patients weren’t able to get their teeth cleaned. Now that offices have re-opened, their hygiene departments have been very busy catching up with their patients who are behind on their recall schedule. Many offices are booking months out for hygiene appointments.

Here are some ideas of how you can help your hygiene department during their busy time.

Have your front desk team review the hygiene appointment the day before the patient arrives. The front desk can save your hygienist time by checking for the following information:

  • Is the patient due for X-rays? This is probably something you are already tracking in the Continuing Care module. Take a quick look to see if it’s something you’ll need to plan for during the appointment.
  • Is the patient eligible for fluoride treatment? You can usually find this information where you store other insurance information, such as limitations and exceptions. I like to keep track of this type of information in the Insurance Plan Note in the dental insurance Coverage Table.
  • Does the patient have any medical conditions to be concerned about such as pre-medication requirements? This information can be documented in the patient’s Health History.

Following the visit, most offices have their hygienist schedule the patient’s next recall appointment. While your hygienist is so busy, you may want to consider having the front desk set the appointment complete and schedule the patient’s next appointment.

In some offices, the dental assistants are responsible for taking patients’ X-rays. This could be an option for your practice if you are finding that your hygienist doesn’t have time to take X-rays because of a busy schedule.

Use the ASAP List in Dentrix to find patients who have scheduled an appointment but would like to come in sooner. This is a great way to fill your schedule if you have a last-minute cancellation.
You can contact patients by phone and offer them an available appointment. Especially while available hygiene appointments are limited, it’s important that your hygienist doesn’t have any unfilled appointment times.

Your dental office staff should work as a team. As such, we need to support each other for the benefit of the patient. While your hygienists are so busy catching up with recall appointments that had to be postponed due to COVID-19, the rest of the team can help to support them by doing some of the things I mentioned above.

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By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at