Dental Hyigienists and Dentists: Financial Considerations

Turning a Profit on Your Dental Hygienist Investment
Editorial by Jim Du Molin

Once again, I’m putting my capitalist hat on and analyzing the economics of dental hygienists. (I started by discussing the economic aspects, and last week I talked about how you can turn a profit.) The dentist needs to begin by preparing an operatory for a hygienist, then actually hiring one. Done properly, the dentist will then start earning a healthy chunk of passive income. At this point, many hygienists may view the dentist as a fat capitalist who is getting rich off the sweat of their labor. They fail to recognize the cost of capital and risk.

As a capitalist, your risk is the cost of equipping the hygiene operatory. If you have to add a staff member in administration to schedule hygiene, that cost would also have to be considered.

In our example, we’ll assume that your cost is a $554-per-month loan payment on equipment for the hygiene operatory. When we subtract this cost from the previous increase in profit, the net return is $5,799 per month, or about ten times your risk. As the number of hygiene days per month increases, your return on investment continues to grow. And that’s what American Capitalism is all about.

Profit on Hygiene Investment

Number of hygiene days per month 4 8 12
Profit on hygiene production* $1,169 $2,338 $3,506
Profit on dentist’s production* $5,184 $5,184 $5,184
Less: capital investment – $554 – $554 – $554
Total Net Profit per Month $5,799 $6,968 $8,136
* before indirect overhead costs

If you’ve got comments on the economics of hiring hygienists, feel free to post them below!

Dentists Say Specialists Usually Refer Patients Back

Prosthodontists and Periodontists Suck; Oral Surgeons and Orthodontists Rule

Dental Survey ResultsThis survey asked dentists how frequently their patients are referred back after being sent out for treatment by specialists. The clear majority said they always or almost always got their patients back.

Dentists reported that prosthodontists were the worst offenders when it comes to not referring patients back. There were also complaints about pediatric dentists and periodontists. Dentists were happiest with oral surgeons, orthodontists, and endodontists.

Here are some comments from dentists about specialist referrals…

  • “Periodontists only have incoming phone lines. They never refer back.” (Arizona dentist)
  • “Building a good relationship with your specialists is critical. Specialist referrals are our second greatest source of new patients, after existing patient referrals.” (Pennsylvania cosmetic dentist)
  • “Endodontists love to do it all, endo and restorations. They’re too greedy.” (Arizona dentist)
  • “The endodontists to whom I send patients are tremendous.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Oral surgeons and orthodontists are a great source of new patients, especially in a growing area.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “Orthodontists will not share or help with easy cases, and refer existing patients to oral surgeons, not back to us.” (Arizona dentist)
  • “I enjoy the relationship with my periodontist. He does the perio and I do the restorative. I’m not afraid that when I refer the patient that they will get lost.” (California dentist)
  • “Periodontists attempt to take over patients’ care and regular hygiene visits.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “Pedodontists never, ever refer back! They are by far the worst of all specialists.” (Arkansas dentist)

about specialist referrals or read the complete results

Dental Implants Belong to the General Dentist

Dental implants as a dentist specialtyShould dental implants should be a formal dental specialty? Three of four dentists (77%) say no.

“I don’t think it is necessary to make this a specialty since oral surgeons, periodontists, prosthodontists and general dentists like me all place dental implants, and many restore,” offered one doctor. “I do think fellowship training is good, and credentialing is valuable.”

Though 85% of general dentists oppose having implant dentistry as an official specialty, only 67% of specialists feel the same. While some feel that dental implant surgery should only be done by a specialist, most agree that general dentists are fully capable of restoring implants.

Here are some further comments from dentists on dental implantology:

  • “The oral surgeons or periodontists should be placing the implants in the bone – a good restorative dentist can place the dental implant crowns or over- dentures.” (Florida dentist)
  • “I do not believe dentists should be placing tooth implants unless they are certified specialists in implantology.” (Alabama dentist)
  • “It IS a specialty when done at the highest levels.” (Dental implantologist)
  • “Implant dentistry should become a subspecialty recognizing those doctors (specialists and non specialists alike) that have received additional training to perform tooth implant dentistry proficiently.” (Periodontist)
  • “Implants are a part of my General Practice, and have been since 1986. I would hate to see certain fractions in dentistry fight over this….i.e., Oral Surgeons, Periodontist, dentists, etc. It WILL be ugly.” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “Implants should be dental school course just as endodontics, periodontics, etc.” (General dentist)
  • “The last thing dentistry needs.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “There are enough turf wars about dental implants as it is. No need to have a separate specialty.” (General dentist)
  • “The politics of delineating who the ‘specialists’ are is an impossible task.” (New York prosthodontist)
  • “Things are good as they are. We should not elevate individuals to royalty status.” (Texas dentist)

Read more: Dental Implants Should Not Be a Specialty, Say Dentists

Dentist Attitudes Towards the ADA (video)

Dentist attitudes toward the ADADentist opinions about the American Dental Association span the gamut.

In this survey, 48% of dentist respondents said the ADA is an accurate representation of dentists, while 52% feel the ADA is a tool for specialists to maintain the status quo.

“Apparently, from this sedation dentistry debacle the ADA has no problem limiting ‘Access to Care,’ which I actually thought they cared about. I say we have fools for representatives,” scoffed one dentist. Agreed another, “They are trying to limit our ability to perform oral conscious sedation, and I think that is a tragedy for our patients!”

One dentist offered this straightforward advice: “ADA should be marketing dentistry like the Milk Foundation does the ‘Got Milk’ campaign. Couldn’t tell you a thing that they do that is positive for dentists.”

Read more: Dentists Uncertain about American Dental Association

British Dentists Prefer To Be Called “Doctor”

British dentists prefer to be called "doctor"A recent British poll revealed that four out of five dentists there think it’s appropriate for dentists to continue to use the “courtesy” title of “Doctor.”

However, dentists are only to use the title in contexts where it is clear they are dentists, not physicians.

Read more: Majority of dentists believe use of Dr title is appropriate

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