Hygienists in Large Group Settings

A supportive dental team can help hygienists succeed in large group settings.

Hygienists fill a unique role in large group dental settings and DSOs. Patients spend the majority of their dental visits with their hygienist, notes Marisa Dolce, national hygiene director, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC). When the entire dental team – including the dentist – supports the role of the hygienist, it leads to “a positive atmosphere and patient confidence,” she says. “The dental team should collectively provide great patient care and a great patient experience, so enlisting the whole team to support hygiene is in the best interest of the practice.”

The more educated the dental team, the better they can support their hygienists, Dolce continues. “Inclusion of support team members in the education process is key,” she says. Most large group practices employ hygiene directors or mentors, whose job is to train and educate other team members in the practice when appropriate, she explains. “The whole team must be made aware that the hygiene-patient visit provides the well from which all dentistry comes. Great practices have great teams who support that all-important-hygiene-visit for their patients.”

Particularly in large group settings or DSOs, where hygienists are accountable for adhering to an organization-wide standard of care, a team mentality can help foster a positive atmosphere, Dolce points out. Incorporating the hygiene staff into a large multi-site practice can be challenging, she notes. “I always inform new-hire hygienists that their day-to-day professional life within the practice will be much like that of any private practice, with the exception that we follow specific protocols of treatment. Here, the hygienist does not have to go it alone. They have a voice.”