Q: How many patients does Front Office Rocks recommend for a healthy 1 doctor & 3 hygienist practice?

We currently have 3314 active patients who have been in our office in the past year and a half. The staff has been killing themselves for 2 years so we are thinking about dropping some insurance but we want to evaluate how many patients we need to stay healthy.


Keeping track of the number of active patients is key to a successful, thriving dental practice. We all want that perfect number, but sometimes we don’t understand what keeps us at that balance. It’s important for doctors and team members to understand what makes their practice grow but first we must always start with the why – your patients.

Also, understanding what “active patients” are is the next question. The active patient count is the number of patients seen in your practice during a specified period of time…[mepr-show if=”loggedout”]Members only resources[/mepr-show] [mepr-active memberships=”629,630,37388,37393,37672,37676,37670,37668,37674,44674″ ifallowed=”show” unauth=”message” unauth_message=”Answer hidden, please login or purchase a membership to view.”] Our recommendation is patients seen anywhere from 12-18 months prior. The reason behind this is that it means you have a healthy recare system in place and are getting & keeping patients in the schedule and keeping the back door problem shut. Additionally, when you have patients who regularly reschedule, you don’t have to invest as much time, effort and money into new patients each month. You need to know your true numbers before you can make decisions on adjusting them.

Keeping your active patients truly active requires having a system in place and active effort from your team to make sure patients are not falling out of the schedule. The most important of these is making sure they reschedule their next recare appointment before they leave the practice. If you have a large number of active patients in the practice but are not seeing enough patients a day, it’s most likely the result of a scheduling issue. Be sure your team is investing time in training on productive scheduling.

So, what is the recommended number of patients to dentist ratio? Let’s look at a scenario. An active patient is seen about every 6 months/24 weeks. If your hygienist is working 5 days/week with an average of 8 patients a day, they will see about 40 patients per week. If we multiply the 40 patients per week by 24 weeks, that would be 960 patients. This means that the ideal scenario is approximately 1000 active patients: one dentist with two treatment rooms and one hygienist.

When practices try to see more patients in the same amount of time, they are working harder for less production and they usually find a decrease in the average annual billing per patient. In most cases, the more patients you have on the schedule, the less time and therefore, less attention you have for your patients. With additional hygienists, that also increases the number of hygiene patients to check, which allows you even less time to spend with patients in your operatories.

I would recommend taking a look at insurances and how you can potentially drop some of them and I have a whitepaper I wrote on this that you can access here:


I also have included two options below for insurance negotiation that might help with the process of negotiation as well as deciding how much you are writing off and if it is worth staying in-network.

Unitas offers a revenue assessment via this link and you can schedule a complimentary consultation with them directly. I have also included a direct contact below:
Bailey Malolo
Sales Coordinator
Unitas PPO Solutions
4140 E. Baseline Road, Suite 101, Mesa, AZ, 85206
office: (480) 525-8221, (800) 298-4222

Another company we also refer to is Profitable PPO’s. I have attached some resources they offer and included their contact information below.
Clint Johnson
Profitable PPOs
21640 North 19th Avenue, Suite C-102, Phoenix, AZ 85027

Please reach out to them and let them know you were referred by Front Office Rocks. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any additional questions or we can help in any way.