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Keys to profitable hygiene

Feb. 1, 2012
For most hygienists, the most professionally rewarding aspects of practicing clinical hygiene is the treatment of periodontal disease.

For most hygienists, the most professionally rewarding aspects of practicing clinical hygiene is the treatment of periodontal disease. Kathleen Johnson has designed her program, “Keys to Developing a Profitable Hygiene Department,” to assist hygienists by instilling a deeper understanding of periodontal diseases while motivating clinicians to achieve a higher level of treatment protocols in technique, education, communication, and behavior modification. Within this program, she also encourages dental teams to communicate to patients with a better understanding of how to properly charge for procedures performed.

Goals for Kathleen’s “Keys” program include:

  • Creating value and urgency for hygiene services while providing care that works with the practice philosophy, vision, and strategies
  • Increasing profits without increasing workloads
  • Avoiding broken or rescheduled appointments
  • Setting realistic hygiene goals
  • Understanding the CDT 11-12 and increasing dentist, hygiene, and team communication

Kathleen also provides a business program titled “Better Systems Mean Better Practice.” This program discusses the effective use of systems throughout the dental practice in order to obtain maximum growth and efficiency.

Creating an environment that fosters success for the entire team regardless of their position or title is a goal for all of Kathleen’s programs. Whether serving as a consultant (she owns Kathleen Johnson Consulting, Inc.) or presenting a seminar, she is always mindful to discuss with the doctor, hygienist, or team members that you can’t win a World Series or the Gold Cup with only one player participating. It takes a team effort to support one another.

Kathleen also educates teams to understand that it is important not to focus on insurance benefits, rather to create urgency and value for patients. Doing so educates them to achieve optimum dental health rather than being insurance-driven. Do patients value and understand restorative and periodontal treatments rather than “cleanings”? When participants attend “Keys,” they will learn the communication skills needed to help patients move forward with dental treatment, whether from the dentist or the hygienist.

Kathleen provides handouts for all of her programs that include her PowerPoint presentations. She loves to interact with her audiences and have all participants involved in the discussions.

Kathleen is a practice management consultant, coach, and author. She is a founding member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and a

member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association with 34 years of experience and thousands of client successes to her credit. She provides practices and individuals with optimal efficiency using fresh, innovative, and usable practice management tools. Since she is not a hygienist, she wanted to learn as much as she could about hygiene because she was tired of hearing hygienists being called “prophy queens.” With her understanding of the role of hygienists in the practice, Kathleen has enabled dentists and other team members to understand the value that the hygiene department brings to the table. She is concerned about the numbers of hygienists who are seeking employment at this time with practices that don’t value the hygienist. Kathleen has recommended to many practices that they use reactivation campaigns with the appropriate verbal techniques to revitalize their hygiene department.

Beyond educating dental teams to achieve higher levels, Kathleen is passionate about her children, rescuing animals, and the New York Yankees! She strives to create relationships within her programs and during her consultations that are free of pressure, demonstrate mutual respect, and provide skills and knowledge that elevate the dental practice, the team, and especially the patients to achieve maximum oral and business health.

For more information on Kathleen’s programs or her consultation services, email her at [email protected] or visit

Thought for the month: If you greatly desire something, have the guts to stake everything on obtaining it. —Brendan Francis RDH

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. Ann-Marie is currently a business/clinical advisor for Jameson Management, Inc., a comprehensive coaching firm, and also presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. She is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

This month’s featured course is “Perspectives on Endodontic Therapy and Instrumentation.” RDH magazine readers will receive a 47% discount off the course fee when using this coupon code: AMFEB12. Course description: Endodontic treatment has as its overall goal the long-term retention and restoration of the endodontically treated tooth, including an absence of periapical infection. For this to be achieved, a number of steps and a careful technique are required during instrumentation and irrigation for cleansing and shaping of the canals, and during root canal obturation. Over time, root canal instrumentation options developed to include NiTi reamers and files, Gates Glidden drills, and other designs for manual and rotary use. Instrumentation options and techniques for obturation also increased to include traditional lateral and vertical cold condensation techniques, as well as techniques utilizing carriers and new materials. Regardless of which combination of instrumentation and techniques is used, successful endodontic therapy relies on a number of sequential steps that must be thoroughly carried out.

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