Background: This paper deals with the economics of the independent dental hygiene practice.
Methods: Using historical data from dental practices in Cincinnati, Ohio, we developed a business model for an independent hygiene practice. We tested the sensitivity of the model to variations in key assumptions (initial capitalization, interest, employee salary, and owner's draw). We described the profitability on the basis of the breakeven point.
Results: Under the most permissive regulatory and financial environment, the practice would breakeven after 26 months. However, the owner would not equal the earnings of a salaried hygienist until the initial loan is paid off after 7 years. The model was not sensitive to 20 percent changes in the key assumptions.
Conclusions: Under ideal circumstances, an independent hygiene practice could be profitable.