Can dental hygiene production coexist with compassion?

Words like “production” and “goals” used in reference to hygiene departments can create contention. After all, we are health-care providers, not salespeople, so why do the numbers matter?

Some might say that a focus on increasing production is not in the best interest of the patient. How many times have we heard or thought, “It’s all about production and making money, but my concern is for the patient”? Should it be our production numbers or the numbers of lives we are able to touch that measure us? What I have learned is that these two measures are not mutually exclusive, and in fact work in concert with each other.

For those of you who don’t agree, I understand. I once felt the same way. My change of view does not imply that I support overtreatment or suggesting services that are not necessary. We are not in the business of selling. We are oral health prevention specialists who have the responsibility to inform and educate patients. We are often the first in the office to build relationships with our patients and to see the signs of, or risks for, disease. We help guide the patient to the best possible treatment or prevention strategies ethically, responsibly, and as early in the process as possible.

© Syda Productions –

Are we meeting patients’ needs?

It can be easy for us to ignore the concept of the numbers, retreat to the operatory, and perform what is on the schedule for that day to the best of our ability. But is the scheduled treatment in the best interest of the patient? I think about the countless times that I’ve worked harder instead of smarter, with much discomfort to myself and probably my patients, performing heroic measures that spanned far beyond what a prophy is supposed to be.