Managing Your Hygiene Schedule

by Lisa Philp, Chief Visionary Officer, TGNA – Transitions Group North America

There are many systems that can be implemented in a dental practice to enhance time management between dentists and hygienists. Although these solutions are relatively simple and easy to implement, they require the cooperation of all members of the administrative team.

Let’s look at managing hygiene exams and assessments. The first question to ask is, “Do we have a hygiene coordinator?” This role delegates one person to manage the entire hygiene schedule. This person would take all incoming hygiene appointment calls, confirm all hygiene appointments and manage all aspects of the hygiene schedule. In other words, they would have their “finger on the button” for all things hygiene.

Rather than having “too many hands in the pot” (or in this case, the hygiene schedule), the hygiene coordinator would effectively manage and engineer the hygiene schedule. For a dental practice to be running at peak efficiency and profitability, the days of filling voids must become a thing of the past. An efficient hygiene schedule should have varied appointments throughout the day that will enable overall production goals to be achieved.

The hygiene coordinator should prepare the hygiene schedule with appropriate blocked time throughout the day for specific appointments, just as the dentist’s schedule is prepared in the same manner. In turn, this would support team members by aligning appointments throughout the day that do not conflict with the varied procedures happening at the practice.

The entire team needs to train themselves to look at an appointment schedule across the board horizontally, not just vertically at their own day. As we are aware, the ripple effect that can occur in a dental practice because of scheduling issues can be devastating on days and weeks. One way to avoid scheduling headaches is to provide all team members with a copy of the entire office’s schedule, not just their own for that particular day.

Another easy solution to introduce at your practice is the morning meeting or ‘huddle.’ When handled correctly, this can be the most beneficial fifteen minutes at your dental practice. In general, the dental industry expects its staff to come to work completely unaware of what they are doing that day. Instead, they are asked to “go to it” and we wonder why chaos ensues and stress levels rise.

Take fifteen minutes prior to each day to focus the group around what is going to happen during the workday. During the morning meeting, have each team member come prepared with their chart audits complete and have each hygienist identify which clients will require an assessment or an exam. This allows everyone to determine the time required for hygiene that day. The dental practice environment is unpredictable enough, so it helps to prepare the team as much as possible.

About the Author
Lisa Philp, Chief Visionary Officer, TGNA – Transitions Group North America – Lisa is committed to being an eternal student in the areas of personal growth, leadership, change management, human capital development, adult learning, advanced training techniques and communication skills. She may be contacted at or