What would our patients do if they knew we were treating their periodontal disease through guesswork?

In his DentistryIQ blog, “Making the Oral-Systemic Connection,” Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS, asks, “What should our patients do if we fail to identify the cause of their specific case of periodontal disease? Perhaps they don’t know bacterial identification can be done easily and quickly, or that their treatment plan will be significantly impacted when the bacteria are identified. … If you or a loved one were in the chair, would blind therapy be good enough?”

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What would you do if your doctor failed to order blood work before your appointment for a physical exam? What would you do if your doctor failed to order a Lyme titer when you presented to the office with a bug bite and flu-like symptoms? What would you do if your doctor did not check your blood pressure, or use a stethoscope to check your heart and lungs, or order x-rays after a traumatic sports injury? At the very least we would likely question these decisions, and perhaps we would find another doctor.

As doctors, what should our patients do if we fail to check and record their periodontal condition regularly? What should our patients do if we fail to identify the cause of their specific case of periodontal disease? Perhaps they don’t know bacterial identification can be done easily and quickly. Or that the appropriate adjunctive antibiotic will be indicated based on results of the bacterial test. Or that their treatment plan will be significantly impacted when the bacteria are identified. What would our patients do if they knew?

Isn’t it our responsibility to offer the best treatment possible for our patients? Isn’t it our responsibility to help them achieve a lifetime of oral and overall health? Isn’t it our responsibility to keep up with research and technology advances, and then use them to enhance the level of care we provide? Are we meeting our responsibilities if we fail to identify the cause of each patient’s case of periodontal disease, opting instead for guesswork and hoping for the best outcome? We are definitely not. If you or a loved one were in the chair, would blind therapy be good enough? Is good enough the best we can do?

READ MORE OF DR. NAGELBERG’S BLOGS . . .


Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS, has practiced general dentistry in suburban Philadelphia for more than 30 years. He is a speaker, advisory board member, consultant, and key opinion leader for several dental companies and organizations. He lectures on a variety of topics centered on understanding the impact dental professionals have beyond the oral cavity. Contact Dr. Nagelberg at gr82th@aol.com.


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