As a dental practice owner, you can never rest on your laurels. Whether it’s upgrading your skills, bolstering your knowledge base, or searching for new ways to grow your business, you must remain motivated and forward-thinking.
When assessing your business model and noticing areas needing fine-tuning, like many other dental professionals, you’ll see opportunities for growth within your periodontal program.
It’s one thing to offer one-off, ad hoc periodontal advice and treatments. However, this approach lacks consistency and isn't harnessing the growth potential that periodontal work provides practices like yours.
Conversely, developing and implementing a consistent, transparent periodontal system entails specific diagnoses, enrollment, and treatment processes.
A well-constructed system involves results monitoring, so you can keep adjusting and tweaking based on the insights offered. Tracking these processes helps you flag weaknesses while maximizing your strengths.
Below, we’ll give you foundational tips to help you build your perio program.
Building a Successful Perio Program: Jumping-Off Point
Your periodontal program will be shaped by your mentality and philosophies. In defining your perio program, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you believe in identifying and offering treatment solutions for periodontal infections and inflammation?
- Will treating periodontal infections or inflammation positively impact your patient’s wellbeing and overall health?
- Will implementing a perio program be worth the learning, hard work, and changes required to be successful?
Provided your answer is yes to the above questions, you know you’re prepared to do what’s necessary to develop and implement your perio program.
Instilling these beliefs amongst your team gets everyone on the same page, ensuring they’re in lockstep as they implement the requisite systems.
You’ll Need To Overcome Obstacles
Implementing a schedule for your perio program is your number one obstacle. Of course, when faced with an infection, the situation's urgency drives you to act immediately.
However, the patient won’t quite grasp the treatment's urgency if you can only slot them in two months down the road. Other body part infections aren’t subject to delays, so don’t put off periodontal infection treatments – look to address the problem immediately.
Another problem arises when you don’t reserve time for your perio program; it forces hygienists into a prophy trap.
Without systems, your hygienists will be forced to provide periodontal care during prophy treatments, leading to scheduling issues and a failure to reach profit goals. Even worse, patients will believe periodontal problems can be handled with a thorough cleaning.
Below are other obstacles dentists face when designing and executing a perio program:
- Hesitancy to suggest treatments to long-time patients.
- Not enough time spent on hygiene visits to finish periodontal assessments
- Insurance limitations
- Hygienists and dentists do not align in their periodontal philosophies
Follow These Steps Toward Clinical Calibration
- Step 1:
- Hygienists and dentists must read the Periodontal Health paper and “staging and grading” guides to garner a shared understanding.
- Step 2:
- Calibrate clinical diagnostic techniques.
- Investigate critical diagnostic data points gaps between hygienists and dentists, such as:
* Can bone level typically be seen on X-rays?
* How does bone loss appear on a radiograph?
* Are periodontal probes being angled and placed the same way?
* How are probes being read?
* Is bleeding being recorded to document active inflammation/infections?
- Step 3:
- Determine when to transfer a patient to a therapeutic procedure (e.g., gingivitis therapy) from a preventative prophy based on the American Dental Association’s CDT code descriptions.
- Outline clinical care standards in a document (with your team’s input) to offer a reference point and establish a collective understanding of care.
- Demonstrate, through a flow chart, how a patient goes from diagnosis to treatment. This chart will then show how patients move to periodontal therapy, then toward continuing care.
- Clarify these processes through specific ADA codes, times, documentation, procedure, etc.
Use Dynamic Communication To Move Forward
First, to communicate effectively with your perio program patients moving forward, you’ll need to focus on patient participation during prep.
Involve the patient in the pre-exam conversations by telling them you’ll call out some numbers as you examine their gums and bones surrounding their teeth. Let the patient know that between 1 and 3 is normal, and if the gums are healthy, they won’t bleed.
Beyond those numbers and bleeding, communicate other indicators of inflammation. Chart them in your patient’s digital chart.
Ensure the patient is sitting up because it’s time to present treatment options.
Be knee-to-knee with them and have photos of bleeding and infected areas to help the patient visualize their issues. Then, offer documentation of your diagnosis and overarching treatment plan.
Print your periodontal charts in colour for the best possible visual results. And ensure that you’re emphasizing a patient’s risk factors (e.g., autoimmune conditions, high cholesterol, arthritis)
These actionable suggestions give you a perfect starting point for your soon-to-be thriving perio program.