Periodontal disease and gum health: It's dangerous to assume we're doing everything we can for our patients

How does your practice measure up in the comprehensive treatment of periodontal disease and gum health? Dr. Richard H. Nagelberg says it's not until patients start comparing their dental care experiences that the lack of care becomes apparent to one of them. How can you keep your patients from getting shortchanged?

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 07 Shark Head On Dreamstime Thumb

How does your practice measure up in the comprehensive treatment of periodontal disease and gum health? Dr. Richard H. Nagelberg says it's not until patients start comparing their dental care experiences that the lack of care becomes apparent to one of them. How can you keep your patients from getting shortchanged?


My last blog posed some questions about periodontal disease and gum health patients may keep to themselves, which can be quite problematic for dental professionals. Some of the questions involved couples, coworkers, and friends who go to different dental offices. When they compare notes, one individual mentions a periodontal evaluation, one a detailed discussion of home care with specific recommendations, and one a salivary identification of bacteria, among others. Interestingly, patients on both sides of the conversation may think they are receiving a high level of dental care. It is not until they start comparing experiences that the lack of care becomes apparent to one of them.

This is a prescription for losing patients in your practice, since one individual is well taken care of and the other is getting shortchanged. Why wouldn’t the patients who are getting shortchanged switch to another office? Wouldn’t we, if we found ourselves in the same situation?

The solution, of course, is obvious. We want to be the office in which hygienists are given sufficient time to thoroughly treat and educate their patients. We want to be the office where everyone is on the same page and the hygienists and doctors work together in a mutually respectful manner. We want to be the office that treats patients comprehensively, beyond the oral cavity.

Perhaps we should have a team meeting and see if patients have made comments to anyone in the office regarding the level of satisfaction they feel they receive. Or perhaps we should compile a list of those patients who have requested their records and just disappeared. We need to review their records and discuss them. A team meeting with these objectives may be very revealing.

If everything in the office is going well, we might consider bringing new services on board, such as salivary testing, air abrasion, digital impressions, etc. It’s dangerous to the health of the practice to always assume we are doing everything we can for our patients.


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


For more articles about clinical dentistry, click here.


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.


For the most current dental headlines, click here.


More in Clinical