Howard M. Notgarnie, LMT, RDH, BA
Cape Coral, Fla.
Thank you for the article entitled "What`s a `cleaning?`" (Tekavec`s column that appeared in the March issue of Dental Economics). It`s about time that a magazine written for dentists points out what hygienists have been pointing out for years: The codes for procedures done primarily by hygienists are inadequate in describing what they do. This problem would probably cease if the panel forming and defining these codes included hygienists. I did not see a hygienist listed in the CDT2 or CDT3 present in the office where I work.
The word "prophylaxis" outside of CDT means prevention - usually prevention of disease, though I have seen it used in a context not related to the health of one`s being - but the CDT definition describes a procedure which is, at best, esthetic, and is potentially harmful. Because of the potential harm, most hygienists rightly fail to follow the CDT definition of code D1110, even when that is the code we use.
It is unfair to the general public for professionals to adopt the term "prophylaxis" as a word of professional jargon when its professional definition does not even meet the minimum requirements of the term as the general public uses it.