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Are Dental Hygiene Clinics Doomed to Fail?


Dentists' expenses are increasing, leaving many dental practices struggling. About one in four practices have raised their dental fees due to the current economy, finds a dental management survey by The Wealthy Dentist.

Are Dental Hygiene Clinics Doomed to Fail?
San Francisco, CA, January 18, 2009 --(PR.com)-- Only 2% of dentists said they had ever seen a successful, private, independent dental hygiene clinic. When asked why, 76% of dentists think it's not a profitable business model, whereas 22% think hygiene practitioners' hands are tied by state laws, found a poll by dental marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist.

Dentists are protective of their role as the gatekeepers of health care. "In California, only a licensed dentist can diagnose and treatment plan. So all hygiene would be by dentist prescription or referral," said a California dentist. "Bad for the public, good for hygienists. How much more are we willing to give up? We are health care providers. not just a good business model!" seethed a New York prosthodontist.

The biggest obstacle is money. "Financially, I don't see how a hygienist clinic could pay for itself," said a general dentist. "Instead of using our equipment and waiting room and parking lot, l think it's a splendid idea for dental hygienists to rent their own space, buy their own chair, supplies and equipment, and then sign up for a few insurance companies and make a fraction of each dollar," an Alaska dental office manager said sarcastically.

Many worry the independent dental hygienist could compromise dental care. "The whole concept is flawed," opined a Connecticut dentist. "They cannot diagnose and read X-rays, and this will definitely lower the standard of care. It will also make it cost more since the doc will have to charge more to do dental exams."

The fact is, dentists can charge more for their time than hygienists. "I don't see how hygiene offices make sense," said a Nevada dentist. "You need the possibility of a higher revenue procedure base, like if hygiene is set up as the front end to feed the dentist in the back. Could a dentist set up 10 hygiene salons with the purpose of referring patients to his office? That would be smart. Otherwise, it is dumb from both a practical as well as professional model."

Traditionally, dental hygienists have been a crucial part of every dental practice. "Within a health-centered practice, a dentist wants their practice to serve the entire oral needs of their patients," said a California dentist. "A hygienist is an invaluable team member due to close and continuous communication, which is not able to happen in remote hygiene settings. Even in a traditional dental practice that sees hygiene as a means of patient circulation that keeps the work coming in, it is more effective to have the hygienist on premises."

"Dentistry and hygiene go hand-in-hand," said Jim Du Molin, dental patient marketing expert and founder of continuing dental education resource The Wealthy Dentist. "Trying to separate the two will only lead to higher costs and reduced care. The money's just not there to support an independent hygiene practice."

Du Molin invites readers to visit his blog at http://www.thewealthydentist.com/blog/654/dental-hygiene-clinics/ and comment on this survey.

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Contact Information
The Wealthy Dentist
Jim Du Molin
415-435-2818
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http://www.thewealthydentist.com/PR/094-Dental-Hygiene-Clinics.htm

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