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How to keep your dental hygienist from going solo

According to a 2022 survey of more than 13,000 US professionals by DentalPost, 14% of dental hygienists plan to apply for a new job within one year! So, should you be worried that your dental hygienists will leave or go solo? Probably.

Especially since they passed a new law in Canada that allows dental hygienists to start their own practice. In the USA, dental hygienists can set up their own practices too in most states, but in some, they need to have approval and collaboration agreements from dentists.

These new regulations mean patients no longer need to go to a dentist for teeth cleaning. They can instead get a professional teeth cleaning the cheaper and easier way by going directly to a local dental hygienist.

Dental hygienists setting up their own practice means fewer patients coming to you and profit loss. So, how can you avoid these negative consequences of losing a dental hygienist or any of your dental staff for that matter?

Our top tips for increasing dental hygienist retention

The key thing to remember when you’re trying to keep your dental hygienists happy and with you long-term is that you have to make working at your dental practice more appealing than going off on their own.

Otherwise, the grass will only look greener and greener. So, how can you make sure they stick with you? Here are our tips for keeping dental hygienists at your practice.

Offer development opportunities

Offering learning and development opportunities that support your dental hygienist’s growth may make them more inclined to stay with you.

While they can likely save money to open up their own practice, they may not have enough money (or time) to spend on furthering their own education – even though they would probably like to improve their skills.

If education is something you can give them that they can’t obtain themselves, you’ll instantly become a more attractive employer because you’re showing your dental hygienists you’re invested in them.

Give dental hygienists more freedom

According to HBR, 96% of employees in the US say they need flexibility in their jobs, but only 47% have it. Plus, one of the top-cited reasons for employees to start their own business is having more freedom over their schedules.

And after the long hours and PPE stress of Covid-19, your dental hygienists may be burnt out and seeking a better work/life balance. As an employer, you have the opportunity to offer the same kind of freedoms they want from opening up a dental hygiene practice.

Dental staff and hygienists want more control over their hours. So why not work something out with them to allow them to work when they want – even if it’s only one or two days a week?

Don’t overwhelm your dental hygienists

Nobody wants to work for an employer that doesn’t value their time. If you’re constantly asking or expecting your dental hygienists to work late without even so much as a thank you or some form of compensation, they’ll be ready to walk out the door and into their own practice in no time.

The solution? Regularly check in with your dental hygienists to make sure they’re happy with their workloads, have the right amount of patients to work with each week, and are feeling good about how long they spend at work.

Ask dental staff what you can do better

When was the last time you had a sit-down chat with your dental hygienist to praise them on their achievements, see if there’s anything they’re struggling with, or ask for feedback on your managerial style or internal processes? You’d be surprised how much these conversations matter to your dental staff.

If there are issues, at least you can spot them with these check-in meetings and fix them before it’s too late. Open communication is the best policy for any employer, but especially for employers who fear their dental hygienists or other staff going off on their own. Make sure your team feels heard and seen.

Reward your dental hygienists

Health insurance, quarterly bonuses, gym membership, mental health support, and more rewards and bonuses can make staying at your dental practice far more attractive than going solo. And many dental practice owners can’t afford these luxuries when running a busy practice.

So by offering rewards like these to your dental staff and hygienists, they’ll feel like you genuinely appreciate them and realize they won’t get these same perks by opening up a practice of their own.

Make staff aware of the cons of going solo

If you have a sneaky suspicion that your dental hygienists want to go solo, why not have an open and frank conversation with them about the pros and cons of opening up their own practice? This doesn’t have to be a forceful talk, but more of an information session to help guide their decision.

Sure there are benefits to going solo, but during this chat, you can discuss the benefits of staying at your practice too. Knowing what they’re getting themselves into and how good they have it might just sway their loyalty right back to you!

Start designing your dental hygienist retention strategy today!

Feeling a little more confident about where you stand with your dental hygienists? We hope you’ve found this article helpful and are ready to put some new dental staff retention ideas into motion to keep your dental hygienists with your practice for the long haul.

At the end of the day, you can’t stop your dental hygienists from doing their own thing and setting up a practice, just like nobody could stop you when you established yours.

You have to let dental staff do what feels right for them, but at least with our tips, you’ll know that you tried your best to keep them satisfied.

And if you need an extra helping hand to implement an effective retention strategy, why not talk to our dental practice business consultants and marketing experts?

At PatientBoost, we offer business consultancy, digital marketing, and web design services for dental practices that are ready to streamline and automate their processes, attract new patients, engage their employees, and upsurge profits. Book a free 15-minute Clarity Call today!


Dickens Yard Dental

Meet Dr. Sahil Thakkar. Owner, founder, and principal dentist of Dickens Yard Dental, a dental practice based in West London. As a brand new business, the main goal was to increase the number of new patients to kick things off.