Periodontal recording: Dental hygienists should be talking aloud

Periodontal Charting

Increasing the volume during probing also increases awareness

A hygienist I know (let’s call her Partima) works in a practice a half day a week, where she’s been employed for 18 months. The practice also has a full-time hygienist (let’s call her Fultima). Their doctor requests that all patients be comprehensively probed annually. Periodontal screening and recording (PSR) or general perusal of the tissues is performed at all other recare visits. The practice uses a software system that allows for periodontal charting; however, the numbers have to be keyed into the computer by the clinician or another party.

The front desk administrator makes herself available as needed to assist the hygienist, and Partima told me she takes full advantage of this offer to help. Conversely, Fultima probes and then keys in the numbers herself.

Partima told me about an interesting phenomenon. Anytime she sees a recall patient that has been seen previously by Fultima, something strange happens. After Partima performs the periodontal assessment, the patient asks her what function is taking place and for what reason? There’s no question that the documentation has taken place in the past, as the numbers are keyed in. What’s interesting is that the patient has no awareness that the periodontal recording has happened. (You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.)