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Episode : #717: Accelerated Hygiene Do’s and Don’ts

Podcast Description

DAT consultants Tiff and Denae discuss accelerated (or assisted) hygiene and how it’s helpful amid transitions taking place in offices across the country. Together, they touch on the do’s and don’ts of implementing and/or perfecting its use in your practice.


  • Develop protocol

  • Train your team

  • Optimize your schedule

  • Fine-tune hand-offs


  • Not have an action plan

  • Not schedule what the patient needs

  • Not have a dedicated assistant

  • Skip out on patient education

Episode resources:

Reach out to Tiff and Denae: [email protected] 

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0:00:05.8 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast. I’m your host Kiera Dent. And I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member’s perspective, because let’s face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I’ve been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled to over 165 different offices, coaching teams. Yep, we don’t just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental. And I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.

0:00:50.3 Kiera Dent: Hello Dental A team listeners, this is Kiera and you guys, I’m so excited for Consultant Takeover. Guys, that was me attempting to sing into this microphone for you, and I hope you loved it. Today, consultant takeover, grab your pens, grab your notebooks, bringing in the heat today. And as always, thanks for listening and I’ll catch you next time on the Dental A Team podcast.

0:01:09.2 Tiff: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. I’m so excited to be here again back at it with Denae. I had so much fun chatting numbers with you, before you may, I don’t know when we are hearing this one. It might be before, it might be after, but we just recorded a numbers one and it was so much fun. It was our first one together. This is our second and we’re just gonna kill it today. Denae is coming to us from home. You were in Arizona for a couple weeks, so its so random to see you back in your office space, which I love. And then I’m on the road now, so we like flippity flopped, but welcome back, welcome home, Arizona misses you. It’s so weird that I didn’t even get to see you ’cause I was gone most of the time you were in Arizona where I live, and you used to live, but it was so weird to not see you while you were there. But how was your trip? Was it so fun?

0:01:56.4 Denae: It was amazing. Arizona will always have a piece of my heart. I mean, I was born and raised there, so it will always be my home.

0:02:03.6 Tiff: Yeah.

0:02:03.8 Denae: It was amazing.

0:02:04.9 Tiff: I agree. Well, good, good. I love that you hit all of the staples. I agreed with most of them, but I do love it. I do love it. Born and raised in Arizona girls. We’re few and far between, but we have a home state love that just does not die, so I totally agree with that.

0:02:21.7 Denae: Yep.

0:02:22.9 Tiff: Okay. Today I thought it would be fun, guys, to talk a little bit about accelerated hygiene. I think there’s a couple of reasons why it’s top of mind. One is because… And we call it accelerated, it’s assisted, accelerated, whatever you guys wanna call it in your practice. Double booking, however you want to label that. But one thing that I feel, one reason I feel like this is important right now is because there’s a lot of transitions happening in teams right now for number one. I love accelerated hygiene, whether we’re fully staffed or not, but there’s a lot of practices right now that are not fully staffed. They don’t have as many hygiene team members as they would like. And accelerated hygiene is an awesome way to make sure that we can still see our patients, still meet production goals while we’re short staffed in the hygiene department.

0:03:10.0 Tiff: And then also I have a lot of hygienists that I work with in practices all across this country that just love accelerated hygiene. I have one girl in Chicago, I hope she’s listening. It’s right outside Chicago. She will never do anything else and she kills it. She loves accelerated hygiene. She loves her back and forth between her schedule and getting to see so many patients. She sees between 12 and 15 patients a day, and she kills it. She works three days a week and it’s just incredible. So I think there are a lot of reasons that accelerated hygiene can work in a practice and why implementing it would be smart and fun.

0:03:46.9 Tiff: But I thought before we even talk about implementation, it would be nice, Denae, for us to kind of chat today about some dos and don’ts, because I think the biggest thing that keeps us from progressing on an idea that we have is the number one, the fear of failure. And the fear of failure, it comes from the unknown, right? Not knowing like, well, how do I do this? How do I implement this? What does it look like? What’s the structure? And then on accelerated hygiene, I think there’s a few things you need to make sure you don’t do [laughter], that I find just as important as the things that you do.

0:04:19.8 Tiff: So, Denae, I know you’ve personally worked accelerated hygiene in some practices that you’ve physically worked in yourself, and then you’ve got some practices now that probably could use this. I just talked with a doctor today about some accelerated hygiene ideas, because he lost a hygienist. So I know we’re both working in practices, currently and previously with that. But what are some things that you’ve seen personally that work really well? We’ll start with dos. What are some things that you’re like, you have to do this in order for accelerated hygiene to really work?

0:04:50.3 Denae: Yeah. So I would say the first thing is you have to develop a protocol. Everybody in the office has to know, how is accelerated hygiene going to be implemented in the practice? Over-communicate it to your team, role play it with your team before you go live with patients. So I would say, number one, develop that protocol. Number two, train your team. Those are absolute must, must haves. Another one is optimize your schedule. Really focus in on knowing where is your assistant, versus where is your hygienist within that appointment. So optimize your schedule, develop that protocol and train your team.

0:05:32.0 Tiff: I love it. So I think I love that. Thank you. I write notes guys because I will forget. And then these are action items later. So, no, I love that. So I think within the optimize your schedule, kind of knowing where everyone is, some key points on that, that I want you guys to do, is to really look at what the appointments will entail. So number one, you’ve gotta know how long are your re-care appointments, how long are your new patient appointments? Are we doing SRP and perio maintenances in there with accelerated hygiene as well? What is that structure going to look like? And then, how are you going to overlap them? So Denae, I don’t know how you’ve done it. I’ve seen both work. I personally have implemented the 20-minute stagger.

0:06:14.0 Tiff: So we’ve got a 60 minute appointment and it’s staggered and overlapped by 20 minutes at the start and the finish of each appointment. So there’s about 40 minutes in between, but it’s just hygiene. And one thing that I’ve seen work really well with that, the other version is 30-minute staggers, which is a little bit tighter. That’s what my Chicago practice does, and she is on her heels all day, but she loves it. That 40 minute gap though really allows for the appointment, the hygiene appointment to take place. So what that looks like then is, the beginning of the day, that first appointment, your hygienist is gonna start it, you know, start to get that appointment really going, and you’ve got your 20 minutes in the beginning, she’s gonna do all of the pieces, all of the health history updates, all of the x-rays, anything that needs to be done there in that first 20 minutes.

0:07:05.0 Tiff: Then she’s gonna go ahead and clean the patient, do the re-care appointment, and then at that point she either finishes it out with the exam where she hops over and starts her next appointment. That’s where you guys really need to figure out what Denae is talking about is optimizing that schedule. That’s where you need to figure out, okay, is my hygienist gonna stay for that whole appointment? Do I want her there for exams or do I want her there for the beginning of the appointments? And there’s… Both sides have pros and cons. I personally like the handoff, right, the co-diagnosis from the hygienist to the doctor. I think that it helps patient care and it helps solidify that relationship. So my personal opinion would be that she completes that appointment, she does the exam while your hygiene assistant then starts that next appointment.

0:07:51.9 Tiff: X-rays, health history updates, seeing the patient, getting them prepped, and then the hygienist comes over and starts the cleaning, does the exam, and we flip flop and rotate that all day. So your hygiene assistant is on it, she comes in or he comes in, cleans the room when the exam is done. Once they’ve started that other appointment, comes in, cleans the room when the exam is done, and then the hygienist is in that second appointment rocking and rolling. So I think in my personal opinion, is there, you can do it either way. You can have it where the assistant comes in and does the exam with the doctor and your hygienist starts the next appointment. But again, you’re gonna lose some of that pass-off of information. You’re gonna lose that handoff from the hygienist to the doctor over the patient. And your diagnosis might take a hit because you’re missing that co-diagnosis piece. Denae, what do you like to see in that stagger as well? Is there something there that you feel like is like a do this situation?

0:08:48.2 Denae: So I would agree with everything that you said Tiff. And I would just stress, overstress that there is a difference between overlapping your schedule and overbooking your schedule. And what’s gonna make that difference is it’s the communication that happens within your schedule. So it’s really utilizing the side of the schedule that will help you visually see where is my assistant versus where is my hygienist. So when you… Whether you decide to do the 20-minute or the 30-minute for the hygienist, really specifying, and that’s all within the protocol, right? But I would say really specifying and knowing exactly where they are is truly gonna be the difference between overlapping and overbooking your schedule.

0:09:29.1 Tiff: I love that. Yeah. Cool. Okay. So let’s skip forward to the don’ts, things that not to do, which I think you led into that perfectly. I think a huge don’t is, number one, don’t jump into this without a plan, without an action plan. And don’t jump into this without a plan developed with your team and trained with your team, because then you’re gonna come at us and be like, you guys are crazy. This doesn’t work. I hate it. It’s just the worst. And then don’t overbook your schedule. Denae, that was a huge point. There is a drastic difference in that and really paying attention to what the patients need. So that leads back into something I suggest for all of my practices, all of my hygienists. When you schedule the re-care, schedule what they need. So if you know you didn’t take x-rays today and they’re gonna need x-rays next time, put it in the appointment. Because when we are building out a schedule, especially when we’re doing the staggered accelerated hygiene schedule, it’s gonna be really fantastic to know what we’re coming up against.

0:10:32.0 Tiff: And that’s how you’re gonna add in things like trial maintenances and new patients, things like that can be put in there when we know exactly what our patient needs. So schedule for what they’re going to need next time. Don’t just rush through and throw it on the schedule. Whether you’re doing accelerated hygiene or not, I implore you to do that because it will help build out your schedule correctly. So don’t overbook, that’s huge. Schedule correctly, that’s going to help you not overbook. Don’t jump into accelerated hygiene without an action plan and don’t jump into accelerated hygiene without a dedicated assistant. A lot of practices will do this where they say, oh, well I’ve got two assistants for my doctor, so I’ve got plenty of space for it.

0:11:13.8 Tiff: Well, technically you need three assistants because if you are a double assistant doctor schedule, they do not… They’re not always going to be able to jump over to hygiene to do the x-rays to do the exam or to turn those rooms over. And then we’re in a pickle over in hygiene and your hygienist hates accelerated hygiene and feels overworked. So don’t jump into it without a protocol, don’t overbook and don’t jump into it until you’re staffed and equipped to handle accelerated hygiene with dental assistance, which tend to be a little bit easier to find and a little bit easier to train on the accelerated hygiene is much easier to train than finding a hygienist if you’re doing this because you’re short staffed. So, Denae, what other don’ts do you feel like we can pop in there for them.

0:12:00.5 Denae: So to piggyback off what you’re saying with, make sure you’re fully staffed, don’t jump into it until you’re fully staffed. But also doctors, I’m talking to you, don’t pull that third hygienist or that third dental assistant into your schedule because you can, know that they are there to help your hygienists and they are not there to help run your restorative schedule because it’s so easy for you guys to lean on them because you can. So know that you’re fully staffed, but you’re bringing them on to support your hygienists and really hold yourselves accountable to not pulling them into your restorative schedules, even though you might feel like you can, because it will cause what we have said, it will cause burnout with your hygienists because accelerated hygiene is truly meant to have that dental assistant with them. I would also say don’t skip on your patient education. It can be really easy to get into that appointment, start jiving through the appointment and then try to hurry up and get to the next patient. But remember to hold yourself accountable and do not skip on that patient education because it’s so important.

0:13:11.6 Tiff: Yeah, that was a big one. I think that one right there, that patient education piece should be right in your protocol. What does that look like? What does your exam look like? What are the pieces? Just like you guys all have a new patient protocol, I’m sure if you don’t, we have them that we’ve built out with practices, so reach out. But it’s gonna be very similar. What does that exam look like and what does the education piece look like? That’s a very good point, especially because even though the doctors aren’t running accelerated hygiene, the hygienists are, they tend to feel the stress of it, right?

0:13:42.3 Tiff: You get, like that anxiety. And you’re just like, we’re running, we’re running. It’s kinda like when you have a ton of stuff to do on your day off and you’re doing all your to-dos, you get in that sense of like, go, go, go, go, go. And so doctors will come into that energy in the room and then all of a sudden they’re rushing through as well and they’ll miss those pieces. So I totally agree. I love that. I love that. Okay, guys, so accelerated hygiene can work. It can be really fantastic. And if it’s for your practice, then do it. If it’s not for your practice, take some of these tips and take them home anyways, because some of these things can work for non-accelerated hygiene as well, especially when it comes to the scheduling and making sure that you guys are fully prepared. So action items for today, because we’ll always leave you with action items. When we are done with our back and forth communication here, build a protocol you guys. If you’re gonna implement or consider implementing accelerated hygiene, figure out what that looks like for your practice. So build a protocol, wrap in there, how is it going to be implemented? And how are you gonna role play and train it? So figure that out. Schedule the meetings.

0:14:20.4 Tiff: I love the patient education piece. So build a protocol that says what it is? What it looks like? How’s the schedule going to go? How will it be implemented and then what does the exam and the patient education piece look like? What are the expectations of that appointment? Optimize your schedule you guys. Know where you want people to be. That expectation set for your hygienist and your dental assistant will change the game because there’s never a question. If your hygienist is gonna be there for the exam, your assistant knows she needs to grab that next appointment and start them. Make it simple. And then third, our last piece. You guys make sure you have a dedicated assistant to that role that stays dedicated to that role. It’s insanely important, because it’s just gonna keep everybody happy. And if you’ve got a happy team, it’s kinda like happy wife, happy life, right? You’ve got a happy team, everything flows so much better. So go take these home. Figure it out. Denae, do you feel like there’s anything I missed on the action items that they really need to, like, if you missed this piece?

0:14:38.4 Denae: I don’t think so.

0:14:47.7 Tiff: Sweet. That’s why I take notes. That’s why I take notes, guys.


0:15:45.6 Tiff: So this was awesome. Denae, thank you for helping with this. I know you have some awesome ideas. I truly appreciate your brain. And I know that your clients do as well. I think you’re killing it. And you’re just bringing a whole new sense to Dental A team and you fit in so freaking well and I just have to love on you today. I’m so happy that you’re here and that you’re with us and that you’re willing to do this podcast with me today. So thank you. I truly appreciate you.

0:16:08.9 Denae: Thanks Tiff.

0:16:09.7 Tiff: Yeah, of course, of course. All right guys, go figure this out. What are you gonna do? Or what are you doing? If you guys are out there and you’re like, you know what, I do accelerate in hygiene and I kill it and I have some ideas that you guys didn’t come up with. Let us know. Drop it in a review you guys, leave us a five star review down below and drop some of those notes in there. Because when people listen to this and then they look at those reviews, they can smash all of those things together. Or if you’re like, “Hey, this is gonna be great for my practice”, let us know. Drop us a five star review, or email us over at [email protected], and we cannot wait to hear from you guys. Have a great rest of your day.


0:16:45.0 Tiff: And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.

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