What’s a “Hygiene Visit” Worth? With Dr. Michael Goldberg

Price becomes an objection when a patient does not perceive “meaningful value.” Without such a value-based context, people use money as a benchmark.

  • Is your hygiene visit worth $39, $59, $99 or more?
  • Or is it only worth it if the “insurance will cover it?”
  • And now that the new hygienist you just hired is making 20% more than the previous one, how does that figure into the profitability of the practice?

We are in complex times, made more intense by the pandemic-effect, which accelerated and amplified pre-existing trends.

“Meaningful value” is what something is worth to the patient. Often, the value isn’t readily apparent to the dentist or team. Not unless it’s discovered through a series of questions.

  • Why is that important?
  • And, why is THAT important?
  • Why is that important now?

The sooner a patient-defined meaningful value is exposed, its use will facilitate the entire patient flow process.

Though there are no simple solutions to the many challenges ahead, I’d like to offer a few ideas that you can use that might help you weather economic uncertainty.

  1. Promote outcomes-based value, not procedures.
  2. Make sure your messaging is consistent.
  3. Communicate MORE, not less.
  4. Use technology appropriately.
  5. The fortune is in the follow up.

Promoting meaningful value is an activity that should permeate the entire patient flow process. There isn’t a procedure that we do in the dental office that doesn’t evoke some fear in our patient. Any discussion of WHAT is being done without connecting it to a vision of what the patient sees as a benefit, is doomed to resistance. Finding out a patient’s definition of “meaningful value” is the key. And it can be a tricky lock to pick.

Listening and spending time with a patient throughout the journey through the practice will help eventually open the lock to the door that leads to a vision of what VALUE the patient wants to get via the outcome they expect.

The word “cleaning” is perhaps the greatest enemy of meaningful value. A housecleaner gets $15-25 an hour. That’s what people who utilize those services think of. For those who can’t afford a cleaning service, the term conjures up a chore that is unpleasant, if not objectionable. Please stop using “cleaning” as a description of what the highest paid team member in your practice does. It’s demeaning and devaluing.

When a Doctor doesn’t give the hygiene visit the importance it deserves, value is lost. It also is disrespectful towards the hygienist. And messaging is more than what is said. A misplaced wave of the hand, an eyeroll, smirk, or tone, can communicate more than any word or phrase. “Actions speak louder than words.”

But what do you do that adds value? Do you offer…

  • Screening for oral cancer and other pathology?
  • Screening for sleep related breathing disorders?
  • Reducing the root cause of chronic disease?
  • Adding years of longevity?
  • Prolonging the life expectancy of dental restorations?
  • Blood pressure screening?
  • OralDNA® Labs testing?

Do your patients know this? How do they know? Does a “cleaning” infer these benefits?

Start telling people what a hygiene visit truly means to them and their loved ones. Do it in multiple ways. One and done doesn’t work.

Not only will such communication build value but it will decrease cancellations, no-shows and patients lost to attrition. It will overcome the “price” objection. It will decrease dependence on insurance, as some of these life-promoting activities aren’t covered by insurance.

Insurance companies are squeezing doctors so they can boost their profits. Patients are at risk of getting compromised care. Let people know this too.

Tell people what you do. Stop assuming they know because even if they were once told, they’ve long since forgotten about it.

Tell people WHY you do what you do. Everyone is selfish and wants to know what’s in it for them. But they also want to feel good about the people that put their hands in their mouths.

With the recession upon us, now is NOT the time to stick your head in the sand and hide, and now is not the time to cut down on marketing. Now is not the time to reduce communications. Now is NOT the time to keep doing things the same way.

Now is the time to change, adapt and evolve. OralDNA® tests are an evolutionary step in the oral health assessment process. Let your patient know!

Now is the time to boost your communications and transmit meaningful value.

How much is a hygiene visit worth?


To better communications,


P.S. We discuss issues such as these regularly in the Coffee With The Coach Program. It’s aimed at the entire practice team so that everyone is onboard with a practice’s mission and goals. By joining now, you’ll also get access to a treasure trove of resources.

For more from Dr. Michael Goldberg, visit the Practice Perfect Systems page of our Protocol Directory.

Michael Goldberg DMD
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