The Canadian Dental Hygienist Association now reports that more than 5% of its membership is working outside the dental practice. That means over 1,000 hygienists or more than 500 stand-alone hygiene clinics plus mobile clinics. This sounds about right. In my community of 50,000 people just outside Toronto, there are 3 independent hygiene clinics.
The growth in independent hygiene in Canada is remarkable. Just 10 years ago, there were very few if any.
In the US, a similar movement is emerging under the banner of “dental therapy”. Have a look at this short video to get a sense of change in how American oral healthcare will be delivered in the next 10 years.
In its first phase of growth, this hygiene movement was primarily based on price. Your independent hygiene clinic offered cleanings and whitenings at a discount to what was offered in the dental practice.
But this early premise is changing too. Independent hygiene now offers new services so that it can cover more of the patient’s needs. For example, I refer to “temporary fillings” and Prevora.
I call this second phase the “comprehensive value” stage of independent hygiene.
In this stage, independent hygiene becomes more viable, simply because it is more attractive to an aging community with limited insurance and fixed incomes.
So what’s the third phase in independent hygiene?
Getting known and integrating with medical practices in disease management.