When talking about implementing a more consistent, proactive perio protocol in their practice, the #1 question I get from dentists, hygienists, assistants and the admin team is always the same…
How do I enroll existing patients that truly NEED active perio treatment into therapy when I’ve just been doing prophy after prophy with them for years?
The truth is it all starts with you. One thing that often comes up with hygienists when we define active perio disease is that they realize they have been treating a lot of perio with a prophy. This is extremely common. And then the hygienists feel bad about it. Have I been neglecting my patients? Have I done them a disservice? How do I make up for that? Will they see that we’ve been ‘watching’ this for years?
Here’s the deal…you can’t beat yourself up about this. And you must do something to change it. One Tony Robbins quote always stands out in my mind “We do the best we can with the resources we have”. In other words, if you don’t have current periodontal diagnosis and treatment information and you don’t have a clear protocol in place, you can’t very well apply it. You simply may not have all the information you need to do things differently.
I can confidently say that in all my years as a coach and trainer, I have not encountered a team that has intentionally neglected a patients’ periodontal condition. Maybe they weren’t as proactive as they could have been but most of the time they scaled the heck out of those pockets during the prophy appointment and then checked them again the next time. And so they cycle continues.
The problem with this is:
1-the distinction hasn’t been made to the patient that there is active infection that requires a different treatment
2-the hygienist is working his/her knuckles to the bone through blood and calculus much too often in very little time
3-the practice isn’t being financially compensated for the service
4- the patient doesn’t realize the overall health implications of this infection and
5-the practice is vulnerable to the risk of serious disciplinary actions because of poor documentation and/or improper treatment
Without the needed resources and information, you may not feel the need to recommend or enroll any different treatment than what you’ve been doing. So if you have a sneaky feeling that your protocol could be more progressive and you see way too many bloody prophies, or if you’ve been resistant in the past to being more proactive with perio, the first step is to start reading, studying, attending online and live lectures to gain new information. Then work with a coach and/or your team to develop a clear, written perio diagnosis and treatment protocol that you believe in.
Now you’ll have the confidence in your heart and mind that you must create new distinctions for yourself and your patients and recommend something other than a prophy when there is true, active infection.
Next week, I’ll give you a couple tips on how to speak to those existing patients that really need something other than the same old prophy…