Home Dental 655: Rethinking the Role of a Dental Hygienist in Today’s Day & Age – Katrina Sanders

655: Rethinking the Role of a Dental Hygienist in Today’s Day & Age – Katrina Sanders

by adminjay

Hygienists are an integral part of the dental practice and want to play a role in the overall success. And the hygienists are on the front line of the patients. Help them feel valued and empowered and watch your practice soar. To learn how, listen to Episode 655 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Katrina’s Speaking Engagements 

Main Takeaways:

Dental Hygienists can help the entire scope of a practice.

Value is not based on production, but the number of patients healed.

Opinions make dental hygienists feel valued.

We take care of our people, because our people take care of our patients.

Make the most of hygienists’ downtime and be creative. 

Get smart and efficient about schedules. Utilize hygienists more. 

If you don’t take the time to put together the process, nobody knows what the process is. 


“Hygienists did not come out of ‘We need somebody to boost production in our practices.’ It was about drawing a line between the gap of what’s occurring in society when it comes to disease and ultimately how we can help them to achieve greater levels of health.” (9:06—9:20)

“So preventive dentistry comes along in a strong way through campaigns like this in the 1950’s And from there dental hygienists really took on a significant role. They were members of the preventive team, they were working alongside the doctors to help identify early childhood decay, they were performing hygiene visits, they were performing advanced periodontal treatment. And as research has now started to unpack all of these complex layers of what diseases an oral practitioner can prevent through their care, now we are starting to see this fan unfold of all of the unique and amazing things hygienists can do .” (10:33—11:11)

“That narrative, I understand some of the interactions with hygienists and us asking for salaries that are commensurate with the role that we hold in the practice, it is also important to know that there are other things, in fact, that hygienists might want to help them feel like an appreciated member of the team. And interestingly, if we can focus on those things it may actually help the entire scop of the practice .” (12:16—12:44)

“You’re a magnet for what you want to attract. If you’re ad that you put out there is ‘We pay top dollar’ well then you’re going to attract hygienists who are going to push that envelope as high as high is it can go…it’s important to look at who is the type of practitioner you want to attract to your practice” (14:06—14:43)

“I could be making more money somewhere else but that’s not what I value as a dental hygienist. What I value is delivery high level care to my patients. What I value is collaborating alongside doctors who respect me and my opinion. What I value is being able to go to a CE course and saying ‘I learned this. Here’s what this would look like to fold it into our existing protocol. What do you think about doing this for our patients?’ And being heard and understood.” (15:04—15:30)

“My opinion, what I value, is being heard. And [my practice] is showing we value you and we want you to be able to…think about this if [my practice] buys the equipment I need and want I’m going to be delivering far superior care for my patients. I’m going to be delivering a higher level of care to these patients. This money is an investment in a piece of equipment but it’s an investment in standards of excellence in our practice..” (16:48—17:16)

“This is in our culture. Our culture is ‘we take care of our people, because our people take care of our patients’. And we need to look at what does ‘We take care of our people’ actually look like. I think a lot of times the conversation of salary precedes so much of that…when you think about being a magnet and attracting a hygienist who is progressive, who cares about their patients, who wants the best for their patients…first, you may have that hygienist in your practice now. But there is a possibility you haven’t hosted those conversations.” (19:10—20:25)

“What that does is it takes this hygienist who is passionate, who is excited, who loves this [innovation or new piece of equipment] and wants to be able to share this with their colleagues and you’re now positioning this person in a role of authority, in leadership, to work alongside you.” (21:26—21:38)

“Your hygienists can do far greater things with their skills set than [call patients during downtime]. You have a clinician there who is available. You’ve got an hour of time now. Could you be looking at the existing schedule of patients and maybe saying ‘Hey, this hygienist could be anesthetizing this patient over here. You know what? This patient is actually scheduled for a restorative treatment but they’re actually needing to have some scaling and root cleaning done so could we get creative there with this hygienist?’ So looking at the full scope of the schedule for the day and saying ‘Could a hygienist step into the dentist’s operatory and perform those periodontal therapy areas on those patients?’” (21:41—23:19)

“You’ve got creative providers in that practice who want to write content…you’ve got people who can help write campaigns for social media…you’ve got providers in there are who clinical experts. Let them be those experts.’” (24:04—24:53)

“I don’t have time to not do that.I have had to carve out time and be intentional about meeting with my team. For hygienists that might mean doing a quarterly visit where you block off your schedule on a Friday or maybe a Saturday morning, brunch with your hygiene team. And sit down and talk to them about those initiatives” (27:21—27:46)

“I don’t care if you have 10 team members or 10,000. You need a place where, no we are going to stop, we are going to get calibrated on this and this is crazy important” (30:11—30:21)

“How many little things end up getting omitted…if we don’t have a line of sight as to what is going on and we are not consistently re-iterating the things that we are seeing from a process standpoint, if we’re not giving timely feedback, if we’re not creating a collaboration with our teams this is where we are going to run into challenges. Because the process that you built out to help support your team is not necessarily being executed.” (30:42—31:18)

“Look at your hygienists as true partners in the practice. And by that I mean are there projects that you can actually put them in charge of. Can they be accountable for that?…Do you know what happens when you give accountability? When you have her build it? It becomes hers. And now she’s passionate about it. And now she’s the one who is integrating that, not you Doctor.” (31:26—32:26)

“We are no longer just mouth maids, jaw janitors, tooth scrapers, cleaning ladies. We are so much more than that. And hygienists want to help their patients. That’s what they care about.” (32:54—33:07)


0:00 Introduction.

7:26 History of Dental Hygienists.

12:16 The value of a Dental Hygienist.

14:56 Attracting the right Dental Hygienists.

18:26 Culture matters.

21:56 Maximizing downtime.

26:23 What if you don’t have time to do this?

30:42 Why meeting as a team matters.

32:52 Final Takeaways.

40:26 Conclusion.

Katrina M. Sanders RDH, BSDH, M.Ed, RF Bio:

In the ever-changing world of dental science where research, technology, and techniques for patient care are constantly evolving, dental professionals look to continuing education to provide insight, deliver actionable steps, empower, and create a dramatic impact within their clinical practice.

With wit, charm, and a dash of humor, Katrina Sanders enchants dental professionals with her course deliverables, insightful content, and delightful inspiration. Her message of empowerment rings mighty throughout her lectures and stirs a deep sense of motivation amongst course participants.

Katrina is the Clinical Liaison for AZPerio, the country’s largest periodontal practice. She performs clinically, working alongside Diplomates to the American Board of Periodontology in the surgical operatory. Katrina perfected techniques during L.A.N.A.P. surgery, suture placement, IV therapy, and blood draws. She instructs on collaborative professionalism and standard-of-care protocols while delivering education through hygiene boot camps and study clubs.

Send Katrina an email [email protected]

Join Katrina on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/katrina.sanders.948

Follow Katrina on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thedentalwinegenist/

Learn more on Katrina’s website https://katrinasanders.com/

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