Trait #7 – Rock Star Hygienists Are Incredible Communicators!


Trait #7 – Rock Star Hygienists Are Incredible Communicators!

As we travel around the country working with private coaching clients, we have had the privilege of witnessing some of the most gifted rock star communicators.

Rock star hygienists always possess these 3 communication traits.  Let me detail the 3 communication traits and then I will also give you some ideas on how to tap into your inner Rock Star.

Communication Tip #1: Rock Star hygienists connect with their patients BEFORE any clinical communication begins.  Connection is what sends the message to the patient that, “Hey, I’m special, this hygienist really gets me.”  I always advise clients that until you make 3 connections with a new patient, your conversation about their clinical needs will be somewhat diminished.  It’s important for patients to KNOW, LIKE, AND TRUST you in order for that ever important bond to get established.

Let me give you an example, let’s say you have a new patient scheduled with your hygienist. Here’s a Rock Star way to gain connection.  “Mary, it’s so nice to meet you.  I noticed here on your new patient form that you live on Norcross Road.  Our babysitter lives on Norcross.  Do you know Corrie Brown?    That is one connection. Then, the Rock Star will carefully make two more small connections before he/she goes into asking what brought the patient in today.

Communication Tip #2: Rock Star hygienists are excellent listeners. So many great hygienists assumetheir patients love them because of how engaged the patient is when THEY talk.  And, that’s just it; so many times the communication is one way versus a purposeful back and forth.  The Rock Star communicators we encounter are very purposeful in how they ask open-ended questions.  These Rock Stars know that unless they ask the right types of questions and then LISTEN to the patient’s response, critical information can get left uncovered.

I personally love using reflective listening when I interact with my patients.  If the patient says, “It seems like every time I come in, you guys tell me I need more work done – I am doing every thing I can at home to brush and floss but it’s obviously not doing any good!”  A reflective response would be, “Joe, I can only imagine how frustrated you must feel. You’re right, you’ve really stepped up your game at home with brushing and flossing and it shows. Your gums look really healthy!  Unfortunately, the fillings you got as a kid are just simply breaking down due to the natural lifespan of the filling.” The hygienist acknowledges how Joe must feel, the hygienist finds something positive about the situation, but also reinforces the needed treatment anyway.

Communication Tip #3: The last Rock Star communication tip is one of the most impactful.  The Rock Star will use purposeful word choices in order to communicate the message clearly.  Rock Stars avoid using ambiguous words.   When a patient hears you say, “I see some bleeding today” they have no idea if that’s good or bad.  Rock Stars communicate things in concrete terms.  “Kyle, you have moderate bleeding around your molar teeth on both the top arch and bottom arch.  We know that healthy gums don’t bleed and I’m concerned about the way your tissue is responding today.”

If you liked the idea of stepping up your inner Rock Star communicator living inside of you, please don’t forget to join our exclusive Hygiene Profits Mastermind Group.  As a part of this group, you’ll be able to participate in monthly tele-classes with some of the industry’s leading experts as well as being able to reserve 15 minutes of private coaching time with us every month.   Bring your toughest communication questions to your phone coaching call and we can help you develop scripts for how to increase your Rock Star communication game.  Visit

Have a great week and we’ll see you next time!

Trait #6 – Rock Star Hygienists believe in and utilize clear, written systems and protocols


Rock Star Hygienist Trait #6 – Rock Star Hygienists believe in and utilize clear, written systems and protocols

The most talented hygienists can underperform if they are working in what we call “no man’s land.”  This means, they’re working in a constant grey area where they must make judgment calls about disease diagnosis, treatment plans, etc. solely based on gut instinct or the patient’s insurance plan.  When we leave diagnosis and treatment planning up to those factors, inconsistencies arise and our standard of care is often compromised. And by the way, when your hygiene team is all over the place with recommendations it is frustrating for them and does not allow them to perform at their highest level clinically and production suffers because the path of least resistance is to do the prophy and move on.

Getting your hygiene team calibrated and following the same format for the hygiene exam is the first step in creating consistency between hygienists. And even if you only have one hygienist in your practice, knowing that he/she is consistently performing certain steps in the exam will help make the doctor exam so much more efficient AND effective.

I want to share with you our Ultimate Hygiene Exam System. Not only will this help you with the hygiene exam process but will also give you an example of what it looks like to create a system for the hygiene department.

We enjoy helping our clients develop a Hygiene Operations and Systems Manual and the exam is one of the first pieces. So go to and download your copy.

This may seem basic but when you agree as a hygiene team to perform certain steps with every patient, this is a HUGE step to increasing consistency and profitability.

Stay Inspired,

Trait #5 – Rock Star Hygienists Know and Understand their Hygiene Production Numbers!


Trait #5 – Rock Star Hygienists Know and Understand their Hygiene Production Numbers!

It’s funny that I chose this as one of the Top 12 Traits because I know that production is NOT the most important thing to you. One of the things I love most about our industry is that I truly believe our #1 intention is to deliver the absolute best care to our patients.

While it’s often the hygiene production numbers that prompt a doctor or office manager to call us, they always say ‘it was the numbers that got my attention but we just want to take great care of our patients and I think it’s time we take it to the next level in hygiene’. The reason the numbers got their attention is because those docs know that the numbers are actually a great way to gauge the value you’re delivering to your patients.

And here’s the thing…if your practice isn’t profitable, it’s tough to bring in new technology, new instruments, up-to-date training and CE and all those things help you be better care providers. The more high level care you provide, the more productive you’ll be.

Rock Star Hygienists know where they stand with their production numbers and they follow and track them. Remember…they have specific goals.

So how do you know if you have a profitable hygiene team? If you’re a doctor or office manager, the first step is to look at the production to salary ratio for the hygiene team as a whole. If you’re a hygienist, you can do this for yourself.

First, print a hygiene Production-by-Procedure report for the last 12 months. This will show you your hygiene total production.

Then compare that number to the hygiene salaries and if you have a full-time hygiene assistant, consider that as well. Production should be at least three times the amount of hygiene team pay (including benefits). If this is true, then chances are you’ve reached the first level of profitability.

Whether or not you have reached the first level of profitability, there’s always room to grow. And from that growth comes a higher level of care and nice things like new equipment and bonuses.

There are three ways to increase hygiene production:

1-Increase fees

2-Decrease open time

3-Increase the number of high level services you’re providing

Did you know that if a team of 2 hygienists enrolls just 10% of their current patients into conservative perio therapy, they can increase their hygiene production by $60-70K/year? That’s about one per day. Look at your patients. How many ‘bloody prophies’ did you see today? How many had bleeding 4-5mm pockets? These are opportunities to help someone get healthier while raising the bar on the value you’re delivering AND your hygiene profitability.

Stay Inspired,

Trait #4 -Rock Star Hygienists Connect the Dots to Increase Treatment Enrollment


Trait #4 -Rock Star Hygienists Connect the Dots to Increase Treatment Enrollment

Like I’ve shared with you before, being prepared is critical to creating a successful hygiene appointment. It’s a lot of pressure to have to think on your feet when you’re racing the clock; the patient is in your chair and you’re trying to use your risk assessment, communication and time management skills all at once. Knowing as much as you can about your patient before they ever sit in your chair will make your life so much easier.

The next step is putting that information together and formulating how you can talk to this patient so you’re making it personal and relevant to them.

I worked with Philips Sonicare last year to create a DVD all about making a recommendation Personal, Specific and Easy for patients so they will follow through on your recommendation, whether it’s for a power brush or a crown. You can ask your Sonicare rep for a copy.

Let me give you an example:

Just yesterday I was with a new patient. She had several crowns that were very well done and many very large old metal fillings that were cracked and apparent recurrent decay under those fillings. She had a history of Fosamax use and that she is apprehensive when having dental care and that she’d like to have sedation.

We’ve now collected a few pieces of information:

1-She has teeth that are at risk of further decay and breakdown
2-She has a history of Fosamax use and is now on Actonel
3-She is apprehensive and interested in sedation

Now you wouldn’t just be educating her about the need to replace old dentistry but rather you would connecting the dots for her:

“Ms. Jane, you can see in the photo here that you have several teeth are black around these large, old fillings. This usually indicates that there is new decay under the fillings. In these situations, Doctor very often recommends a crown to strengthen this tooth after the decay is removed. Doctor will confirm this when she does the exam and reviews the x-rays.

This is not an emergency situation but if you do nothing, over time the decay will progress inside of the tooth and increase your chances for root canal treatment or even losing the tooth.

Because you have a history of Fosamax use, you are at risk for complications and losing bone in your jaw if you ever need to have a tooth removed. It is a low risk but I think that makes a strong case for being proactive with your care and not waiting until you have pain or the tooth is so decayed that it needs to be removed. And since you’re apprehensive, I believe Doc can take care of this entire upper right section at one time while you’re sedated.“

You’ve now connected the dots so Jane understands WHY you ask her about her medical history. You’ve made it personal to her needs, very specific as to what you think Doctor will recommend and the photos make it easy to see the tooth is not healthy. Of course this would apply to your recommendation for perio therapy as well as homecare products or adult fluoride as well.

Connecting the dots for your patients will make enrollment easier because they will understand how the treatment benefits THEM. And, they will see you as the healthcare professional you are.

Stay Inspired,