I know the title of this blog post sounds like so many others that cross our desk or computer screen. On the one hand, I am usually open for new information. On the other hand, I have become wary of titles that seem to want to hook me and lead me down a path to some “sales moment.” So right off the bat, please know my intention here is not to sell, but to explain as simply, yet completely, as possible how to successfully treat and manage periodontal disease.
This document is written for dentists, dental hygienists and the rest of the office team, but patients as well can and should learn how to manage their own condition to the highest extent possible. As will become even clearer in the coming paragraphs, I am a big proponent in the idea that we can only help patients to the extent they are interested in getting well, and therefore, willing to accept their roles of responsibility. So if you are patient and have accidentally or intentionally found this document to read, please know you are welcome here. There are no hidden secrets or techniques I would not want you, as a patient, to read.
Having said this, this discussion about periodontal therapy is centered on the dental office team, and more specifically on the dentist. Again, the reason is simple. If the dentist does not buy into providing the best periodontal therapy in his or her office, it won’t happen. Sadly much of what I will discuss generally hits dental hygienists at a deeper visceral level than dentists – unless of course the dentist happens to be a periodontist.
So in dentistry we have this interesting dynamic. Dental specialists focused on periodontal disease as well as dental hygienists are more interested in periodontal disease and therapy than are general dentists. I will give you my take a bit later on why I believe this is so by sharing my own story – and, of course there are exceptions to this generalization. So if you are a general dentist who happens to love periodontal therapy, please forgive me. I’m not talking about you. My hope, frankly is that as you read what I have to say here, if you are a general dentist, you will become, if you aren’t already, one of these exceptions. You have a critical role, if you want to have a successful periodontal therapy program in your office.
But here’s the good news. Every dentist who buys into what I have to say here, I believe can expect the following results.
- First, their dental office will run more efficiently – even if it already runs very well.
- Secondly, the morale of their dental hygienists will be higher than it is now. This is because their boss is beginning to more deeply appreciate what they do and where their struggles may be. I am fascinated how many dental hygienists actually feel they are not a part of the dentist’s team. Sometimes, the fact of the matter is, they really aren’t. They are treated as outside contract labor. Regardless the financial arrangements, this attitude harms the unity of the practice.
- Thirdly, patients will begin to do better, not only therapeutically, but emotionally within the office. As they better understand their own problems and are spoken to, not as ignorant recipients of care, but as co-therapists on behalf of themselves, dentists will find them more relaxed when in the dental office. Patient-loyalty grows as a result.
- And lastly, as patients become happier, their attitudes are picked up by the front office employees.
And all of this positive energy started with a simple decision on the part of the dentist/leader to step up and lead in supportive and productive ways.
Is developing a periodontal therapy program in the way I will describe for every dentist? Nope – just for those who want to enjoy practicing dentistry for years and are willing to support their patients and office teams in good and healthy ways.
The easier default course of action many of us fall into, it seems to me, is an authoritarian, my-way-or-the-highway style, that barks orders and demands allegiance without any efforts at persuasion.
Fundamentally, successful periodontal therapy is rooted in persuasion. Yes, technical skills are important, but long-term there is more required than this. I believe much of it is about engaging people in a story that gives them the roadmap they can follow to better dental health. I call this the dentist’s story.
To help explain this, let me demonstrate it by telling you a little bit about my story in dentistry, especially as it relates to periodontal therapy. This, I think, will also explain why general dentists have less interest in periodontal disease than do dental hygienists and periodontists.
Next Time: My Story in Periodontics
What you are reading is a section out of a manuscript I am writing on Periodontal Therapy. If you have already requested to receive my Supportive Periodontal Therapy white paper, this is in partial fulfillment of that request (so you know I am working and you haven’t been forgotten). If you have no idea what I am talking about, but this topic interests you, and you want to make sure you get the whole document once it is completed, please send me your e-mail with your request and I will add you to the list.
Also understand that I am deputizing you to be part of my editorial team. Your comments, corrections, and even encouraging words are definitely appreciated. Also you have my permission to forward my writing to others you believe might be interested. And don’t forget, dentistry is a learned procedure.