Staff periodontal evaluations

Sept. 1, 2002
In our continuing evaluation of adopting a diagnosis-driven approach to hygiene protocols, this month we focus on the role of staff periodontal evaluations. Last month, I discussed the importance of staff commitment to the periodontal philosophy.

Beverly Maguire, RDH

In our continuing evaluation of adopting a diagnosis-driven approach to hygiene protocols, this month we focus on the role of staff periodontal evaluations. Last month, I discussed the importance of staff commitment to the periodontal philosophy. It's very difficult for team members to embrace the full scope of treatment for patients if they feel it is unnecessary, over-priced, or results in billing or insurance concerns. To help bridge this gap, all staff members should receive a thorough periodontal evaluation, nonsurgical periodontal therapy, and a timely referral to a specialist, if needed.

According to the Journal of Dental Research, 75 percent of all patients have some degree of periodontal disease, including gingivitis. This usually applies to our own dental team members as well. Many practices have busy schedules and lack the time to attend to staff dental needs. Doctors, when was your last hygiene visit? I recommend that all dental team members receive a complete periodontal evaluation. Team members learn first-hand the importance of periodontal probing and charting and become more committed to the concept.

Periodontal evaluations also allow your staff to experience from the patient's perspective the impact of a periodontal diagnosis and treatment. When periodontal disease affects us personally, it creates a new level of interest and commitment.

A recent evaluation of a hygiene department with 11 staff members revealed that nine had active periodontal disease that required nonsurgical therapy. Their status ranged from gingivitis to moderate periodontitis.

This example is not unusual. Our own dental teams sometimes are short-changed when it comes to getting a complete periodontal evaluation. But we all are patients. Once we receive a diagnosis, we become far more adept at communicating with and encouraging our patients. We are better equipped to answer patient questions about possible pain from treatment, the necessity of therapy vs. "cleanings," the cost and value of treatment, and the importance of homecare. Staff support of patient concerns can never be underestimated.

After evaluating and diagnosing your team members, their periodontal treatment should have the highest priority. A staff treatment day usually is the best option. Trying to treat staff during breaks in the schedule usually does not result in the kind of quality care your team deserves. Most nonsurgical periodontal cases require time for anesthesia and clinical procedures, as well as behavior modification and oral hygiene instruction.

Staff members are patients too and they deserve excellence in treatment. This not only assures periodontal health for your staff, but also gives them the opportunity to become educated on periodontal disease and personally utilize the communication skills needed to discuss its treatment.

Just as the airlines advise customers to place the oxygen mask on themselves first before assisting a child during an emergency, it is likewise important that we dental professionals be aware of our own periodontal status and receive appropriate care before treating patients.

Beginning your office hygiene transition with a fully educated and committed team of dental professionals makes good sense. The quickest way to involve your team members is to have them relate to the protocols in a personal way. If they are affected and understand how the information impacts them personally, it's a sure bet that the transition will proceed more effectively. Besides, we need to take care of our own business before we can diligently suggest the same for others!

Beverly Maguire, RDH, is a practicing dental hygienist. She is president and founder of Perio Advocates, a hygiene consulting company based in Littleton, Colo. She can be reached at (303) 730-8529 or by email at [email protected].

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.