As the dental healthcare worker shortage continues and compensation rises, more practices are turning to an assisted hygiene model of care to meet patient demand and offset overhead pressures.

These models involve shifting responsibilities and cross-training with the added benefit of promoting teamwork.


Find the Right Hygiene Care Model for Your Practice

Keep an open mind, as many assisted models are available.

  • Accelerated hygiene runs 2 columns with 16 patients treated in an 8-hour day with the help of a stellar dental assistant.
  • Assisted hygiene staggers 2 columns with 12 patients seen in 8 hours, allowing uninterrupted time for SRP and periodontal maintenance.
  • Targeted assisted hygiene selectively schedules double bookings when patients meet specific criteria, such as those under 30 with a history of healthy oral care.
  • Shadow scheduling double books when a patient has not confirmed their appointment and a no-show is likely.



Keep the 20-20-20 rule in mind. For healthy patients:

  • Spend the first 20 minutes reviewing health history, taking x-rays, and updating information.
  • The second 20 minutes with scaling procedures.
  • The last 20 minutes for polishing, flossing, exam, oral hygiene instruction, scheduling, and disinfecting the room.
  • A periodontal maintenance patient will likely fall closer to 15-30-15.



A successful assisted approach involves teamwork, with the dental assistant and hygienist working closely together. The hygienist focuses on scaling and patient communication to improve oral health. The assistant sterilizes operatories, seats patients, reviews health history, takes x-rays, polishes, flosses, schedules the next visit, and records exam notes. State laws vary; check with your state regarding duties the dental assistant can provide.


General Tips

  • The dentist must be flexible with the timing of exams and respond, as much as possible, to the assistant who will orchestrate exam timing.
  • The assistant’s primary focus will be on the hygiene patient without as much time to help in other areas of the practice.
  • Assisted and targeted hygiene are good options for practices with healthy periodontal programs.
  • The hygienist starts the chart note; the assistant enters exam findings and finalizes the notes.
  • The hygienist and assistant should work in side-by-side operatories that allow them to gauge where the other provider is in the care model, creating a better flow for patients and less chaos for providers.
  • A templated note can be passed from the hygienist to the assistant to share relevant information with the doctor during the exam.
  • Not all patients are good candidates for assisted hygiene; note these in the practice management software to avoid scheduling errors.
  • The hygienist and assistant will need time to adapt to the new schedule; be patient during this process.
  • These models increase productivity and the volume of patients treated; hygienists will need to be compensated accordingly.

Careful planning provides a more efficient, productive, and enjoyable hygiene schedule. When staffing shortages impact patients’ ability to receive hygiene care, this becomes an attractive option, even if implemented temporarily until the hygiene shortage resolves.


Your success is our success. Please reach out to us anytime.
Learn more, visit the Practice Support Team page, email us at, or call 1.800.665.5323.

Burkhart Dental Supply – Practice Support Team

Category: Practice Consulting

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