Periodontal Disease, for the most part, is a chronic condition. The periodontist’s role and training are focused on diagnosing, arresting, and, as much as possible, reversing the course of this destructive ailment. But once patients have been stabilized, they still remain at greater risk for recurrence or breakdown compared with patients who have never had this damaging infection. For this reason, patients are usually informed during their initial visits to periodontists, that they should consider themselves periodontal patients from then on, or as long as they have teeth. Is this chronic label true for every patient? Of course not, but those who can safely return into the general patient population and be treated with no additional vigilance are extremely few and far between.
The profession of Dental Hygiene serves a vital function when it comes to helping treated periodontal patients maintain health and, when necessary, return them to active therapy. But how well does all of this work out in real life?
The problem is primarily one of communication. The periodontist works in one office or operatory and the dental hygienist in another. Also, their experiences and training are vastly different, so much so, potentially, that neither understands what the other is thinking or needs to know in order to provide effective care to the patients they have in common.
Ben Young is a practicing periodontist who came into private practice after a career in the United States Air Force. His final assignment on active duty was as the Director of the Air Force Periodontal Therapist Program. This was a training program that essentially taught a select group of seasoned active duty dental assistants to perform the functions of the dental hygienist under the supervision of periodontists in one of dozens of bases around the world.
This podcast is for dentists, dental hygienists and students interested in learning better teamworking techniques toward the highest level of quality patient care. It is intended to be informative, thought provoking and helpful in linking the on-going care of periodontal patients between periodontal and general dental offices while at the same time, making dental hygiene less stressful and more enjoyable.