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3 Ways to Improve Your Hygiene Efficiency

One of your most valuable commodities is time, which is why Kirk often says that “Time is the new rich.” When it comes to hygiene, one of the most common conversations we have is that hygienists don’t have enough time, and want more than a 60-minute appointment, but what if instead of adding time, we work to maximize the time we have! Becoming more efficient will let you build relationships and provide top-shelf care—all in that 60-minute timeframe.

When you stick to a 60-minute hygiene appointment, it lets you break it up into three segments, each lasting 20 minutes. In this way, you can keep yourself on track while continuing to deliver outstanding care. 

  1. Diagnostic (First 20 minutes)

This segment of the appointment is pretty straightforward: it’s the data-gathering stage. During this segment, you’ll interact with the patient and acquire their:

  • Personal data (This is what you’ll use to connect with them)
  • Systemic health data
  • Tooth health data
  • Periodontal health data

Maximize your efficiency by: Preparation is key!!! Also, request an exam once all the data is gathered instead of waiting until the end of the appointment. That way the doctor has more time to work your exam into their flow and you won’t be left waiting!

  1. Therapeutic (Second 20 minutes)

In this segment, you’ll focus on delivering your hygiene services. In essence, it’s the “working” stage. Your goal here is to provide the clinical modalities that help prevent disease and maintain periodontal stability, and it’s important to remember that if this part takes longer than 20 minutes, are you truly in prevention or maintenance?

Maximize your efficiency by: Identifying as a team what “healthy” looks like. Now that you have that alignment, when you encounter something that’s not healthy, you can start deciding what services are most appropriate and treatment planning accordingly.

  1. Logistic (Third 20 minutes)

This final leg of the appointment deals with the wrap-up: 

  • OHI
  • Recap of recommendations and answering questions
  • Entering treatment recommendations
  • Walking the patient out
  • Cleaning the room
  • Setting up for the next patient
  • Chart documentation

All of this happens in the final 20 minutes, and it’s important to remember that the patient is technically only present for 10-15 minutes of this segment.

Maximize your efficiency by: Going into the appointment with the mindset that you have 50 minutes, not 60, ensures you wrap up your visit with enough time to manage the responsibilities post patient care.


Remember, if you’re still encountering inefficiencies, try running a simple time analysis to pinpoint where they lie. It’s also important to note that running over the 60 minutes or feeling behind isn’t a you problem—it’s a systems problem—so work on improving existing systems or creating new ones to maximize the efficiency of each segment.

For more information, check out our free webinar “The Profitable Hygiene Equation: Optimizing Workflow Services for Success!” You don’t have to do this alone, so reach out to Gina to learn more about what ACT has to offer, and how we can help you build a Better Practice, and a Better Life! 

Tune in next time where we’ll dive into ways to improve your conversations about insurance benefits!


Miranda Beeson and Michelle Wakeman are Lead Practice Coaches at ACT Dental