We’ve talked to many dental industry professionals who feel like they’re going in circles with their periodontal patients.
In other words, they still feel like they're not getting anywhere with treatments – even with the best intentions and the most compassionate approach to care.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Patient needs often call for more intensive care than can be provided in 3-month intervals. If you don't feel like your patients are progressing, take a more intensive approach. So, let’s investigate how to get back on track and provide more individualized, successful periodontal care.
Your first step toward more successful, lasting results is ensuring all facets of a periodontal exam are subject to a thorough examination.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) offers a complete periodontal exam procedure outline to guide you through the necessary steps.
Note that the AAP collects and separates natural teeth and dental implant data. While implants and natural teeth resemble one another, they’re different enough that you must fully grasp what makes them different.
Look to the AAP’s 2017 grading and staging periodontitis guidelines for a summarized methodology for the flow of new patients (NP) and the grading classification of patients of record (POR).
NPs become PORs once they get treated, which can be a catalyst for the treatment spiral. Far too often, patients linger between 3- and 6-month treatment intervals and aren’t assessed regularly enough to use alternative treatments as an intervention.
Many dental offices often overlook the periodontal re-evaluation exam. Yearly monitoring of periodontal health is suggested for adult PORs. Yet, hygiene services are frequently limited to intervals between 3 and 6 months when nonsurgical and surgical interventions are needed.
Patients who don’t respond favourably to non-surgical treatments upon re-evaluation will likely need surgical interventions (in-house or via periodontist referral).
Scientific-based data, collected over time, is crucial to this process. Start procuring this data if no adequate record exists and compare it ASAP.
Move patients steadily through the continuum once you’ve begun intervening with different options. Examples of timeframes are:
Deep restorative margins:
Lack of attached gingivae/mucogingival involvement:
Unresolved periodontal issues:
Beyond the above examples, you should examine three other dental/periodontal conditions:
The needs of periodontal patients often require more intensive care than what can be offered in 3-month intervals. The steps outlined in this article lay out a practical course of action to take when your patients seem to be stuck in a rut. This knowledge should enable you to provide your periodontal patients with better care.