There are a variety of considerations that should impact the decision to take a dental hygiene position, and one of the most important is the potential to increase your dental hygienist salary. A successful partnership between dentist and hygienist is an essential component for the sustenance and growth of the practice. In many instances, the primary relationship a patient has with the practice is the one that develops between the patient and the hygienist. While a good dental hygienist can provide valuable hygiene services, a great dental hygienist often sells the restorative treatment plan before the dentist walks into the operatory.
In the early stages of the growth of a dental practice, or with the addition of a new hygienist, it can be common to base hygiene income on a lower beginning salary supplemented by commissions. Commissions can be offered as a percentage of overall hygiene production. They can also be offered for product sales. A commission can be given for individual sales or in conjunction with a promotion. For instance, a practice promotion offering a sale on teeth whitening kits can be coordinated with a hygiene department contest: the hygienist who sells the most kits during the promotion is given a percentage of the overall sales.
A bonus program is another way to increase your dental hygienist salary. Bonus systems can be utilized based on either hygiene department or overall practice production. Most dental practices set production goals. These goals are initially determined based on the number of hours and days worked. Daily schedules are then organized around a system commonly called “block booking.” Since certain types of procedures generate higher revenue, calculations need to be made to determine what combination of treatment will result in a specific dollar amount. Blocks of time within each day are set aside for the specific procedures that, if scheduled as pre-determined, will result in the desired goal. Bonuses can be awarded for reaching monthly hygiene department goals or as part of a staff bonus when monthly practice goals are attained. Bonuses can even be increased when monthly goals are reached for a longer period of time, such as quarterly. These can be realized more successfully when the hygienist is in control of the hygiene schedule. Many practices have the hygienist schedule patients on computer work stations in the operatory.
The utilization of an assistant within the hygiene department can also create a system that will work well, particularly for offices with a high volume of hygiene patients. State regulations as to which clinical staff members can legally provide certain types of treatment have to be considered here. However, in many states, a hygiene assistant can take x-rays, fluoridate and polish teeth. The assistant seats and dismisses the patient, cleans the operatory between patients and sterilizes instruments. This process allows a greater number of hygiene patients to be seen on a daily basis. The completion of these tasks by an assistant allows the hygienist to concentrate on the areas of greatest value: patient education, periodontal treatment and restorative sales. This protocol often results in a significant increase in total hygiene department production. When overall production increases, a salary increase for the hygienist is certainly a viable option.
A hygienist who is able to find employment with practices that offer any of these types of revenue programs will certainly realize a substantial increase in your dental hygienist salary. If your current practice does not offer these types of programs, they can certainly be suggested. The role of the dental hygienist is valuable and variable: clinical partner, patient advocate, health care provider and friend. If you can contribute to the increase of practice production, your value will increase, and so should your income.