What Is The Difference: Prophy or periodontal maintenance?
Many dental professionals stumble with explaining the difference between a prophy and a periodontal maintenance appointment.
Many dental professionals stumble with explaining the difference between a prophy and a periodontal maintenance appointment. When working with dental teams to increase their case acceptance rates, a strategy many of my clients have found successful is to implement collaborative descriptive scripts and written self-care instructions.
In order to maximize the patient’s understanding of the differences and value in services, below is a sample template and implementation steps. This template is a compilation, and should be customized to support your practice’s philosophy and vision.
- Read it and use it as a foundation to create your verbal descriptions. If applicable, share with other hygienists in your office and co-create a unified message. To increase case acceptance, it is paramount that teams speak the same language and use the same terminology.
- Use this template to create a patient handout (print /email). Studies continue to confirm that most of us are weak and inefficient listeners.
A “prophy” or “cleaning” is a hygiene service for someone that generally has healthy gums and teeth. Based on your clinical needs, you may be scheduled a “prophy” every three or four months. Why? Possible reasons include, and are not limited to orthodontics, dry mouth, high cavity risk, sub-optimal self-care, and/or systemic conditions. Most typically, your appointments consist of “cleaning” above the gum line, using hand or ultrasonic instruments, self-care suggestions, and on an annual basis a full mouth periodontal assessment.
Periodontal maintenance is performed following therapeutic periodontal treatment — either surgical or nonsurgical (such as the “deep cleaning” or “root planing and scaling”). Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that requires ongoing therapy. A patient is never “cured” of periodontal disease, but it can be stabilized.
The recare interval may be three months (standard from evidence-based research). During a three-month period, the bacterial pathogens that cause active periodontal disease begin to repopulate or colonize, hence can reactivate the disease. Your appointments typically consist of:
- Re-evaluating your periodontal disease (always looking at your “numbers”)
- Checking the amount of active bleeding
- The “cleaning” is using hand or ultrasonic instruments
- Antimicrobial irrigation or localized placement of medicine
- Self-care guidance
Chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and personal habits such as smoking and your level of self-care can impact your periodontal disease treatment results.
Your oral, dental, and overall health is a team approach — your dentist, hygienist, and you. Please don’t hesitate to discuss your care with our team.
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Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, MSEC, Founder of Dental Influencers, LLC, is an executive coach, writer, and award-winning speaker. Her website is www. kristineahodsdon.com. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.