The value of a dental hygienist in managing and preventing periodontitis

dental hygienist in practiceAre hygienists being fully utilised in today’s practices? Claire Berry gives her top tips on how to refer patients to a dental hygienist.

In 2015 periodontal cases (44.7%), implant cases (28.8%) and cases of peri-implantitis (5.5%) fronted the top 20 UK claims, Dental Protection figures show. By now these figures are likely to have changed and I can only imagine they are rising.

The DDU stated that the most common allegation was the failure to diagnose and treat periodontitis. Further to this, some cases showed that periodontal disease was in fact diagnosed, but the dentist was accused of not managing the condition properly and/or failed to make a suitable referral.

You have to ask yourself in light of this, are you doing enough?

Gingivitis to periodontitis

It’s no secret that periodontitis is difficult to treat adequately under the current NHS UDA system. As we learn more about this condition, we realise that the system is not geared up to be able to deal with the treatment plan needed to stabilise and control periodontitis and peri implantitis. It also doesn’t lend itself to managing patients with a BPE score of 1 and converting them to become disease free patients. A lot of clinicians may record a BPE score of 1 (showing presence of gingivitis), as not an issue and ask them to return in anything up to 12 months!

In susceptible patients, the presence of gingivitis may progress into periodontitis. We know that not all gingivitis cases will progress onto periodontitis, however, periodontitis is always preceded by gingivitis.

Shouldn’t you see this as more important if our patient’s best interests are in providing preventative care? Would you...

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