Is assisted hygiene right for your dental practice?

Assisted hygiene is a popular buzzword in the dental care industry. You may even be considering hiring a hygiene assistant for your practice.

In this article, we’ll give an overview of the pros and cons of assisted hygiene.

Freeing up time

Just as hiring a dental hygienist frees up time for the dentist to see more patients, hiring a hygiene assistant can do the same for your hygienist.

By delegating tasks such as record-taking, patient education and room prep to an assistant, the hygienist now has time to focus solely on direct care. Remove administrative duties and your hygienist can treat more patients in less time.

When running efficiently, this system can even eliminate the need to hire a second hygienist, cutting overhead for your practice.

Overcoming major obstacles

But assisted hygiene also has challenges, including:

  • Seeing too many patients concurrently can lead to physical fatigue for your hygienist.
  • Patients don’t always respond well to seeing multiple staff members.
  • The hygienist, assistant and dentist must all be on the same page.

What makes a qualified hygiene assistant?

Hiring a capable hygiene assistant can be challenging. You’re looking for a candidate with many of the same qualifications of a hygienist (minus clinical duties) who is willing to work for a lower compensation package.

Along with the ability to take good X-rays, provide excellent homecare instruction, review medical histories and keep accurate charts, a quality assistant must:

  • Possess efficient time management.
  • Have excellent people skills.
  • Be willing to work quickly and maintain accuracy in a fast-paced environment.

Change needs to be managed

Some patients have grown accustomed to their hygienist and look forward to catching up and having a chat before and after cleanings. They may see the time they spend with the assistant as lass valuable than the time with your hygienist.

Education and communication is key when changing your patients’ routine. It’s important that patients are shown how the new system benefits them, mainly in shorter wait times.

Only you can determine whether the efficiency boost possible by introducing assisted hygiene fits for your practice.