Ask the right questions!

Feb. 24, 2006
Questionnaire for periodontal risk screening helps uncover hidden gems of information.

Ask the Right Questions!
Maximize Treatment Outcomes

By Jo-Anne Jones, RDH

My husband says I ask too many questions! Living in a male-dominated household with two teenage boys, I guess I am perceived that way. However, they all agree my questioning is effective and usually skilfully uncovers the hidden gem of information I am seeking!

The same strategy applies to relationships with our dental patients. Often treatment outcome is minimized, and frustration is felt by both the clinical provider as well as the patient. It may stem from a lack of understanding of the etiology of periodontal disease, risk factors that are dictating the outcome of treatment or the unintentional lack of perceived importance in treating the disease.

In an endeavour to maximize treatment outcomes in my own clinical practice, as well as ensuring patients remain committed to their supportive maintenance, I have designed a "Periodontal Risk Screening Questionnaire."

The basis for spending the time regarding risk profiling is communicated to the patient in the following manner:

"The following questionnaire will enable us as your dental health care provider to develop a customized treatment plan and maximize treatment outcomes."

The questionnaire is divided into three areas: symptoms, dental IQ and dental history, and contributory risk factors. All three areas are crucial to the outcome of your treatment plan.

Ask pertinent questions related to symptoms of periodontal disease such as, "Do you notice increased spacing occurring between your teeth?" This opens up an opportunity to correlate symptoms with the silent progression of periodontal disease and discover hidden motivators related to patient concerns.

Find out whether your patient has been diagnosed with active periodontal disease in the past and did they pursue nonsurgical periodontal therapy and did they follow through with the recommended interval of supportive maintenance. This will reveal their level of understanding of the disease and perceived benefit. Finally, risk factors that contribute to the treatment outcome need to be fully discussed before commencing treatment.

Time well spent in the beginning of treatment will serve you well not only in maximizing treatment outcomes but in building strong, lasting relationships.

Jo-Anne Jones is an international lecturer, published author, and Hygiene Practice Coach for ADEI, Anita Jupp & Company. Jo-Anne is a lecturer at the upcoming UK World Aesthetic Conference in June 2006. For more information regarding coaching, programs and hygiene practice products, or to do an online practice analysis, please refer to the ADEI website