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Mentoring Hygienists to be Practice Leaders in a DSO

Dr. AJ Acierno is a sought-after speaker, helping entrepreneurial dentists learn from his experience in founding and growing a successful DSO in the Chicago area. Growing to 25 locations since 2011, DecisionOne Dental Partners is at a new stage of expanding its support center to enhance the lives of its dental hygienists and patients.

In this video, Amol Nirgudkar, CEO of Patient Prism,asks Dr. Acierno about the role of dental hygienists at DecisionOne Dental and the investment being made in their support and development as dental practice leaders.

Hygienists are one of the most important aspects of an office,” says Dr. Acierno. “I believe, at some point in time, hygienists need to be empowered by the importance of what they do.” DecisionOne’s dentists and hygienists strive take an active approach to help patients move forward with the care they need.

“I do believe it’s about training and understanding lifetime care, about excellent care, and about giving them the power to say, ‘hey, listen, you’re forming relationships with your patients. Get to know why they’re here, what will make sure they want to keep their teeth’,” says Dr. Acierno. In addition, dental hygienists need to be empowered to speak up when they see a problem, even if the patient says all he or she wants is a cleaning.

“They cannot diagnose, but they are in the mouth longer than a dentist. They need to look at all the aspects and be able to communicate with the doctor what they're seeing. And that doesn't mean they might be right; sometimes it might be wrong, but there needs to be that communication.”

“A dynamic hygienist can take 24% treatment acceptance up to 78% fast.”

Dr. Acierno reports that a dynamic hygienist in an office can increase treatment acceptance from a low of 24% to a high of 78% quickly. “I’ve seen that happen over and over again,” says Dr. Acierno, who also reports that 20% of hygienists are passionate about their field. “We’ve got to really focus on the 80% who are not passionate.”

View this video to learn how DecisionOne Dental Partners is focusing on its hygienists with mentorships and a full-time periodontist who teaches the teams. “It’s super important,” says Dr. Acierno, “Are they always doing appropriate cancer screening? Are they doing the best for the patient right now? Do they understand fluoride? Do they understand our perio policy? And, are they able to educate our patients?” The hope is that case acceptance will grow, not because of productivity, but because it’s best for patients, Dr. Acierno explains. The goal is to empower hygienists to have a greater impact on the lives of their patients, while enabling them to enjoy and meaningful careers.

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