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11 Core Metrics Every Dentist Should Pay Attention To

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Find out why over 1,500 Canadian dentists trust ClearDent to keep their practices running smoothly.

Find out why over 1,500 Canadian dentists trust ClearDent to keep their practices running smoothly.

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of dentistry, staying ahead means not just mastering clinical skills but also keeping a keen eye on the health of your practice. Metrics are the heartbeat of any dental office, offering invaluable insights into performance, patient satisfaction, and financial health. In this post, we delve into the eleven key metrics every dentist should monitor diligently. From patient acquisition costs to treatment acceptance rates, these metrics are not just numbers; they are powerful tools that can guide decision-making, optimize operations, and ultimately drive your practice toward success and profitability. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or new to the field, understanding and utilizing these key performance indicators is essential for thriving in today’s competitive dental landscape. 

Let’s dive into the top 11 metrics that matter to your practice: 

1. Patient Acquisition Cost 

In dentistry, the Patient Acquisition Cost (PAC) is an important metric that quantifies the total cost associated with acquiring a new patient. This includes all expenses related to marketing and advertising efforts designed to attract new patients to a dental practice. The formula to calculate PAC is: 


This metric is significant for several reasons: 

  • Marketing Efficiency: PAC helps in assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the practice’s marketing strategies. A lower PAC suggests a higher return on investment for marketing efforts. 
  • Budgeting and Resource Allocation: Understanding PAC assists in making informed decisions about where to allocate the marketing budget for maximum impact. 
  • Financial Planning: It is an essential tool for financial planning, helping to ensure that the practice is not overspending on patient acquisition relative to the revenue these patients bring. 
  • Growth Strategy: For practices looking to grow, PAC is a key metric to monitor and optimize, as it directly affects the practice’s ability to attract new patients sustainably. 

2. Treatment Acceptance Rate 

The Treatment Acceptance Rate measures the proportion of patients who agree to proceed with the recommended dental treatment plans. It’s calculated by dividing the number of patients who accept the proposed treatment by the total number of patients presented with a treatment plan, and then multiplying by 100 to express it as a percentage. 


This rate is significant for several reasons: 

  • Clinical Success Indicator: It reflects the trust and confidence patients have in the dental practitioner and their proposed treatment plan. 
  • Communication Effectiveness: A high treatment acceptance rate often indicates that the dentist and their team are effectively communicating the benefits, necessity, and urgency of the treatment. 
  • Practice Growth and Financial Health: The more patients accept treatment, the more procedures are performed, which directly impacts the financial success of the dental practice. 
  • Strategy and Training: Understanding this rate can help in identifying the need for improved patient education strategies, staff training, or adjustments in how treatment plans are presented. 

3. Average Revenue Per Patient 

The Average Revenue Per Patient (ARPP) metric in dentistry is a crucial financial indicator that measures the average amount of income generated per patient. It’s calculated by dividing the total revenue earned in a specific period by the total number of patients treated during that period. 


This metric offers several insights: 

  • Financial Health Assessment: ARPP provides a clear picture of the financial performance of a dental practice. It helps in understanding whether the practice is maximizing its revenue potential with the current patient base. 
  • Service Mix and Pricing Strategy: A higher ARPP might indicate that the practice offers a good mix of high-value services or has effectively priced its services. Conversely, a lower ARPP could suggest the need for reevaluating service offerings or pricing strategies. 
  • Patient Management Efficiency: It reflects how effectively the practice is managing its patients in terms of providing comprehensive care and additional services. 
  • Strategic Planning: By analyzing changes in ARPP over time, dental practices can make informed decisions about marketing, service expansion, and operational improvements.

4. Active Patient Count 

The Active Patient Count in dentistry refers to the number of patients who have visited a dental practice for treatment within a specific period, usually considered to be the last 18 to 24 months. This metric is vital for several reasons: 

  • Practice Health Indicator: The active patient count gives a clear picture of the patient base size and is a key indicator of the overall health and stability of the dental practice. 
  • Revenue Projection: It helps in forecasting revenue, as a higher active patient count generally correlates with more consistent income streams. 
  • Resource Management: Knowing the number of active patients assists in managing and allocating resources effectively, including staff scheduling, inventory management, and facility utilization. 
  • Marketing and Growth Strategies: Understanding the active patient base can guide marketing strategies. If the count is low or decreasing, it may signal a need for increased marketing efforts or patient retention strategies. 
  • Quality of Care Insight: Changes in the active patient count can also reflect patient satisfaction and loyalty. A growing active patient count suggests high patient satisfaction and effective patient retention strategies. 
  • Benchmarking and Goal Setting: This metric is useful for benchmarking against industry standards and setting realistic growth goals. 

5. Patient Attrition 

In dentistry, the patient attrition metric refers to the rate at which patients stop seeking services from a specific dental practice. This metric is significant for understanding patient retention and the overall health of the practice. Here’s how it’s calculated: 


Lost Patients are patients who have not returned for dental services within a certain time frame, often considered to be around 18 to 24 months. 

The time period can vary but is typically done annually. 

This metric is important for the following reasons: 

  • Practice Health: High attrition rates may indicate issues with patient satisfaction, service quality, pricing, or competition. Understanding these factors can help a dental practice improve and grow. 
  • Patient Engagement: Keeping track of attrition rates helps in identifying the need for improved patient engagement and communication strategies. 
  • Financial Planning: Knowing the attrition rate helps in forecasting revenues and making informed financial decisions for the practice. 
  • Quality of Care: It can also reflect the quality of care and service provided, guiding practices to improve patient care standards. 

6. Collection Ratio 

The Collection Ratio is a financial metric that measures the efficiency and effectiveness of a dental practice in collecting the revenue it has earned. It is calculated by dividing the total amount of payments received by the total amount of billings (charges) for a specific period, and then multiplying by 100 to express it as a percentage. 


This metric is important for several reasons: 

  • Financial Health: The collection ratio is a direct indicator of the financial health of a dental practice. A high ratio suggests that the practice is successful in collecting most of its billings. 
  • Billing and Payment Process Efficiency: It reflects the efficiency of the practice’s billing and payment processes. Issues in these areas can lead to a lower collection ratio. 
  • Revenue Management: This ratio is crucial for managing and forecasting revenue. It helps in understanding how much of the billed revenue is actually being converted into cash flow. 
  • Policy and Practice Evaluation: A lower-than-desired collection ratio might prompt a review and improvement of billing policies, payment terms, and follow-up procedures. 
  • Patient Payment Behavior: It can also indicate trends in patient payment behavior, such as the prevalence of delayed or partial payments. 

7. Accounts Receivable Aging 

The Accounts Receivable (AR) Aging metric is a financial tool used to manage and evaluate the practice’s outstanding receivables. This metric categorizes the practice’s unpaid patient bills and insurance claims according to how long they have been outstanding (unpaid). The categorization is typically done in intervals such as 0-30 days, 31-60 days, 61-90 days, and over 90 days. 

The importance of the AR Aging metric in a dental practice includes: 

  • Cash Flow Management: It helps in understanding the timing of cash inflows, which is crucial for effective cash flow management. 
  • Identifying Delinquencies: By categorizing receivables based on their age, the practice can identify which accounts are overdue and require immediate attention. 
  • Revenue Cycle Efficiency: The metric indicates the efficiency of the practice’s billing and collections processes. A higher amount in older categories suggests inefficiencies or issues in these processes. 
  • Financial Health Indicator: It provides a snapshot of the financial health of the practice, particularly in terms of liquidity and the ability to cover short-term obligations. 
  • Risk Assessment: It helps in assessing the risk of bad debts, as older receivables are less likely to be collected. 

8. Hygiene Utilization Rate 

The Hygiene Utilization Rate measures the percentage of a dental practice’s active patients who have received hygiene-related services, such as routine cleanings, periodontal maintenance, and other preventive care, within a specific time frame (typically a year). This rate is calculated by dividing the number of patients who have visited for hygiene services by the total number of active patients, then multiplying by 100 to express it as a percentage. 


This metric is important for several reasons: 

  • Preventive Care Emphasis: It indicates how effectively the practice is focusing on preventive care, which is a cornerstone of dental health. 
  • Patient Engagement and Education: A high rate suggests effective patient education and engagement regarding the importance of regular hygiene visits. 
  • Revenue Stream Stability: Regular hygiene appointments provide a stable and recurring revenue stream for the practice. 
  • Practice Health Indicator: The hygiene utilization rate can also serve as an overall indicator of practice health, as it reflects both patient retention and the effectiveness of recall systems. 
  • Opportunity for Comprehensive Care: Hygiene appointments often present opportunities for dentists to identify and address other dental issues, contributing to the overall oral health of patients. 

9. Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a widely used metric across various industries, including dentistry, to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. It gauges how likely patients are to recommend a practice to friends, family, or colleagues. The NPS is calculated based on responses to a single question: “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our practice to others?” 

The scoring works as follows: 

  • Promoters (score 9-10): These are highly satisfied patients who are likely to recommend the practice. 
  • Passives (score 7-8): Satisfied but unenthusiastic patients who are vulnerable to competitive offerings. 
  • Detractors (score 0-6): Unhappy patients who can damage the brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth. 

To calculate the NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters: 


Generally speaking, an NPS can be interpreted as follows: 

  • 0 to 30: This is usually considered a good score, indicating that a practice has more promoters than detractors. It suggests that most patients are satisfied and are likely to recommend the practice to others. 
  • 30 to 70: This is seen as a great score, reflecting a strong and loyal patient base, with many patients enthusiastic about recommending the practice. 
  • 70 and above: This is an excellent score, indicating exceptional patient satisfaction and loyalty. It’s a sign that the practice is highly regarded and well-recommended by its patients. 

Here’s why NPS is important in dentistry: 

  • Patient Loyalty and Satisfaction: It provides a straightforward metric for assessing patient loyalty and overall satisfaction with their dental care experience. 
  • Growth Indicator: High NPS scores are often correlated with growth, as satisfied patients are more likely to return and refer others. 
  • Service Quality Feedback: It offers valuable feedback on the quality of service and patient experience, helping identify areas for improvement. 
  • Improving Patient Relationships: Tracking and addressing the concerns of detractors can improve patient relationships and service quality. 

10. Chair Utilization 

The Chair Utilization metric measures the efficiency with which a dental practice uses its treatment chairs. Essentially, it quantifies the percentage of time during operating hours that dental chairs are occupied by patients receiving treatment. To calculate Chair Utilization, divide the total chair time occupied by patients by the total available chair time in a given period, and then multiply by 100 to convert it to a percentage. 


This metric is vital for several reasons: 

  • Operational Efficiency: It indicates how effectively the practice is utilizing its most important assets – the treatment chairs. High utilization means the practice is maximizing its capacity and resources. 
  • Revenue Maximization: The more efficiently the chairs are used, the higher the potential for revenue generation, as more patients can be seen and treated. 
  • Appointment Scheduling Optimization: This metric can help in identifying scheduling inefficiencies and improving appointment management to reduce idle chair time. 
  • Practice Growth Indicator: Chair utilization often reflects the demand for services and can indicate whether a practice is growing or if there’s a need for expansion. 
  • Cost Management: Effective chair utilization can help in managing overhead costs, as it ensures that the fixed costs associated with maintaining the practice are spread over a larger number of patient visits. 

11. Billing Per Hour 

The Billing Per Hour metric is a financial measure that indicates the average amount of revenue generated by a dental practice for each hour of operation. It’s an important metric because it helps in understanding the overall efficiency and profitability of the practice. This calculation involves dividing the total revenue (from patient treatments and services) by the total number of hours worked (including both clinical and administrative hours). 


Here’s why it’s important: 

  • Efficiency Indicator: It shows how effectively the practice is using its time, both in terms of patient care and administrative tasks. 
  • Resource Utilization: This metric helps in assessing whether the practice is leveraging its resources (like staff and equipment) efficiently. 
  • Pricing Strategy Insight: It can provide insights into whether the practice’s pricing strategy is aligned with its operational efficiency and market position. 
  • Performance Benchmarking: Billing Per Hour allows for comparison against industry benchmarks or historical data of the practice, offering a clear perspective on performance. 
  • Strategic Planning: Understanding this rate helps in making informed decisions about staffing, scheduling, and operational improvements. 


The 11 key metrics discussed in this blog post offer invaluable insights into the multifaceted aspects of running a successful dental practice. From understanding the nuances of Patient Acquisition Cost to optimizing the Hygiene Utilization Rate, each metric serves as a vital tool for guiding strategic decisions, enhancing patient satisfaction, and driving financial health. Whether you’re a new practitioner or a seasoned dentist, single or multi-location, regularly monitoring these key performance indicators is essential. They not only reflect the current state of your practice but also illuminate paths towards growth and improvement. By embracing these metrics, you position your practice not just to succeed in the competitive world of dentistry, but to thrive, ensuring the best possible care for your patients while maintaining a robust and healthy business. 

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