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SRP data suggest a need to educate teenage dental patients better about periodontal disease

May 16, 2017
Kevin Henry reviews data from Sikka Software to determine that the age level of SRP dental patients is dropping, and periodontal disease is a factor.

We discussed in a recent article about scaling and root planing in the dental practice and how the number of SRP procedures compare to the amount of hygiene exams. You can read that article by clicking here.

In this article, we want to take a deeper look at the age of dental patients who may be receiving advice on SRP … and actually following through with it. To do this, we extracted data compiled by Sikka Software over the last seven years. The data we are using for this article has been collected by Sikka Software from more than 12,500 dental practices from around the United States.


Other dental hygiene articles based on Sikka Software data


What we found were some interesting numbers. We dove into the ratio of total SRP to specific patients equal or older than age 20 seen by a hygienist who have received comprehensive exams. While that may seem like a young age to focus on when it comes to periodontal disease, the results were very interesting.

SRP to comprehensive exam in patients age 20 or older

  • 2010 – 0.847%
  • 2011 – 0.838%
  • 2012 – 0.801%
  • 2013 – 0.815%
  • 2014 – 0.830%
  • 2015 – 0.817%
  • 2016 – 0.811%

As a reminder, for purposes of this article, SRP was derived from these dental practices by looking at procedure codes D4341, D4342, D4341.2, D4341.3, D4341.4, D4342.2, D4342.3 and D4342.4.

So what do the numbers above tell us? What started as almost 85% of dental patients being over the age of 20 in 2010 has shrunk to 81% in 2016. That means that more younger patients are showing worrisome signs of periodontal disease.

Anastasia Turchetta, RDH, believes that no matter the age, hygienists must talk about the effects of periodontal disease in today’s society.

“There’s no magic button,” Turchetta said. “Hygienists are their patients’ advocates. Often, our patients will not fully grasp the degree of the relationship between their oral health and their medical condition. Instead, they immediately fuel the fear of pain or money, dismissing any adverse effect on their health until that fear becomes a reality.”

Turchetta likened hygienists doing their homework to prepare for their patients’ questions and needs to that of a lawyer building his or her case for trial. Turchetta says the TV show “Bull” is a good example of how to use the evidence you have to build your case and present it so your patient accepts it beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I think becoming a patient’s advocate takes a relentless strategy to weave evidence-based research and your power of influence,” Turchetta explained. “Begin collecting proof of the medical reasons why your patients might need SRP. Prescription medications, past surgeries, lifestyle habits, prior risk assessments in your practice, how their diet influences their current state of oral health, etc.

“Hygienists have to consistently build a case for health. Every patient who walks through your doors, you have to be prepared to present the evidence in a solution-focused, individual centric skill set that will, beyond a reasonable doubt, lead your patients to be proactive with their health.”

Turchetta believes you also have to be willing to ask your patients about things such as vaping and marijuana usage that can ultimately play a role in their oral health. This can be especially important in young adults. While vaping, hookah, or marijuana use may not be on the health history, statistics show our young adults are choosing these lifestyle habits.

Between the generations known as the millennials and Generation Z (those born after 2002), there are challenges with educating your next wave of dental patients. However, the right questions and the right amount of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring a successful conversation with your patients, no matter the age.

Note: Want to learn more about what Sikka Software can do for your practice? Practice Mobilizer is the free app that lets you send HIPAA compliant video messages, track patient arrival times, provides zip code specific fee data and more. Click here. Link to

An advocate of today’s dental assistant, Kevin Henry speaks to dental audiences across the nation on topics that empower dental assistants, helping them recognize the leadership role they hold in the practice. He is the cofounder of, a community designed to enlighten, empower, and educate dental assistants.

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