dentistSimon Hocken says what many patients may be thinking when it comes to formulaic hygienist appointments, and gives some tips on how to maximise profitability.

I suspect my hygiene visits are pretty much the same as yours. They go something like this: a quick prod with a pocket probe, a careful and thorough ultrasonic clean; a bit of a polish; a chat about my holidays; a ‘see you next time’.

The real issue for me is that it feels so old fashioned. My hygienist appointment follows the same script that my own hygienists used in the 1990s and the whole structure is the same (why half an hour, why £50, why two times or four times a year? Why, why, why?).

Adding extra value

Now we know so much more about the link between periodontal disease and systemic disease, surely it’s time to reinvent the 1990s hygienist appointment. I think I would appreciate (and pay more for) an appointment that included some or all of these components:

  1. A review of my current medical history and lifestyle, highlighting areas where I am putting myself at risk
  2. Some screening procedures such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
  3. A full examination, at least once a year, including some patient-friendly indices, use of a Florida probe, some photos and visuals of the condition of my gums
  4. Some diagnostics, treatment planning and the reason why any periodontal disease is still active
  5. A careful and thorough clean
  6. Help to focus on any areas where there is active disease
  7. Help to finesse my oral hygiene regime
  8. Top ups and recommendations to supplement my oral hygiene tool kit
  9. Something to take away to remind me of where I still have active problems and what I can do to help
  10. When I need to visit next and for how long.

I’d be willing to pay £100 for this and I wouldn’t miss the banter about my holiday. And I will probably live longer. Even better, I’d like to join a plan and pay £33 a month and not have to think about the cost and the value. I’d go more often and my dentist would probably see me more often too and I would have my teeth checked on two out of the four appointments.

Now, isn’t this a little more 21st century? Surely it’s time to offer more than tooth cleaning? Oh yes, and I’d really like a Saturday morning appointment please!

One last observation, I don’t think my dentist knows what his hygienist is up to during these half-hour sessions, and I suspect you don’t know what yours are up to either. Maybe it’s time to reinvent the tooth-cleaning visit.


If you’d like help updating your oral hygiene offering, get in touch with Simon by emailing [email protected].