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

5 Time Saving Tips to Work Smarter During Your Dental Hygiene Appointments

By: Debbie

July 30, 2013

Clock dont be late


Time management is one stressor no matter what your occupation is. You can be a stay-at-home mom: a domestic engineer, and yet managing your time during the day is one thing we all need to manage.

Then, to make matters more challenging, you work in a dental office and you need to complete patient services in a very timely manner. I’m certain that you want your dental patients to feel a high level of customer satisfaction, so you blood pressure and pulse tend to run a bit higher than they would on a weekend at home with your family.

This week I want to offer a few more tips to keep you running like a well-oiled machine daily during your dental hygiene appointments.


“Set realistic expectations of yourself and others.”

Mostly likely, you have set very high expectations for yourself. Dentists, hygienists and the other auxiliaries tend to put pressure on themselves to get it perfect. We want to get the job done at the very best level of quality and patient satisfaction. This is just how we are!

Take time to strategize and plan out your day in the dental office. Know who needs to be where and when. How can you eliminate those bottlenecks during your day? What else can you create success and distress?

What can you do to schedule a successful and stress-free day in your dental office?


“Less is more”

Many of us hygienists who were educated many years ago, didn’t receive a lot of education on the use of ultrasonic’s and/or lasers. If you were educated in an era where these technologies were not as effective as they are today, take a course to learn the latest – most up to date clinical skills to utilize these technologies and save time during your day.

Today’s dental hygiene appointments need to include 80% ultrasonic’s and 20% hand scaling. This is not only a time-saver but creates improved health for your patients.

Saving your clinical treatment time means more time for education. Maybe you need to educate your patient about the oral systemic link, or the initial diagnosis you just made. It may be possible that you patient have an outstanding treatment plan and if you can find extra time in that hygiene appointment, you can educate your patient. The end result is a happier – healthier patient, less scaling at future appointments and most likely more profits to the practice.


I know I have said this before, and as a Dental Practice Management Consultant, I can not stress enough that use of the intraoral camera is one technology dentists tell me, their hygienist doesn’t use enough.

Do you use the intraoral camera but large populations of your patients do not accept your treatment plans?

Try explaining treatment options, procedures, etc., by using brochures, posters, and even CASEY or an iPad with videos.

If you do step out of the treatment room for a minute, the videos are a great time for education tools like CASEY, the iPad a beautiful photo album of past treatment doctor has completed. (Doctor’s before and after photos)


The biggest stress relief I can not mention again is that doctor needs to complete the exam after the hygienist has completed his/her initial co-diagnosis.

Last week’s blog included a diagram outlining the 3 parts of the hygiene appointment.

Breakdown the dental hygiene appointment into 3 areas:

Data Collection – This includes the review of medical history, Xerostomia, Malodor assessments, blood pressure, oral cancer and antioxidant screenings, etc. Annually you will complete a six-point periodontal screening exam, radiographs and even a TMD exam.

Always, before you begin the hygiene clinical procedures, re-evaluate any previous areas of concern: CAMBRA (Caries risk) or Periodontal Areas of concern, etc.

Case Presentation – This is the “co-diagnosis.” The exact time the dental hygienist sits their patient up in the chair to discuss and communicate with the patient, what they see in their mouth during the data collection stage of the hygiene appointment.

At this point in time – approximately 24 minutes into the hygiene appointment, doctor should be able to enter and complete the patient exam.

Clinical Patient Care – At this point in the dental hygiene appointment you will proceed with your clinical care which may also include homecare/post-op instructions.

You have approximately 36 minutes remaining for the patient’s clinical care. During this period of time and not more than 15 minutes before the end of the patient’s appointment (the doctor should enter to complete the exam between 36 and 45 minutes into the hygiene appointment.


When doctor does enter to begin the patient exam, the dental hygienist will be seated in their chair and should be providing patient care. The hygienist will move from her/his chair and over to the other side of the patient to interact with doctor during the exam.

There are numerous suggestions for saving time during the dental hygiene appointment as well as other services in the dental office performed daily.

Does your day in the dental office run smoothly or do you hit bumps in the road? I hope you will share your answers below in the comments section.

If you want to take a deeper dive into any of these topics please consider participating in our 30 Day Dental Hygiene Profits Program. This is 30 Days of dental hygiene department services, systems and distressing to create more time in your day, harmony in your working and personal relationships. This turn-key program is increasing dental hygiene department profits by 25-37% over the next 6-12 months. The more you implement from the program, the greater your results will be!


ME not too high jpeg

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, is founder of Dental Practice Solutions and for over 20 years she has been committed to creating a dental hygiene department that works enthusiastically, creating a high performance teams, improving patients’ total health and consistent profits to the dental practice.

She is an author for journals such as Dentistry Today, HygieneTown and RDH. Debbie speaks internationally about systems and services in the dental hygiene department to create a team that works like a well-oiled machine, improving the total health of patients’, utilizing the most recent science to prevent disease and consistently increase profits.

In 1984 she graduated from USC in Los Angeles in with a Bachelors Degree in Dental Hygiene. She is a former clinical assistant professor from USC. In 2000-2002 Debbie co-taught the practice management course for the dental students. Debbie is also a former dental hygiene program director for a school in Portland, Oregon where she wrote the accreditation, hired the instructors, purchased all the equipment, worked with project managers on the building of the school while managing a 2 million dollar budget.
Debbie works with dental practices throughout the world and is considered a leader in creating consistent profits to a dental practice through services and systems in the dental hygiene department.