8.11.17 Issue #805 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Changing Patient Perceptions about Routine Dental Visits
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“Trips to the dentist - I like to postpone that kind of thing” – Johnny Depp

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), an analysis of the most recent federal data shows that dental ER visits doubled from 1.1 million in 2001 to 2.2 million in 2012. Dentists across the nation and the ADA officials say that the problem is worsening despite health reform.

Even if patients can’t pay, emergency rooms are required by law to treat patients. Unfortunately, most ERs are unable to do more than provide pain medication and antibiotics to dental patients. The cost of the visit itself is often three times more than a routine dental visit, which could have prevented the pain and suffering in the first place.

The average person is still postponing routine dental care because they feel it is not a priority or isn’t necessary. I have heard many patients say they postpone routine dental care because they don’t have dental insurance.

Traditional dental insurance is not the key to health. Most plans only cover up to $1000 per year (a maximum that hasn’t increased in decades), have limitations on coverage and require co-payments. Often the $1000 isn’t used by the end of the year. 

“Why do I have to come every six months when the hygienist tells me I am doing an excellent job with home care?”

Studies show that many people do not need to have their teeth cleaned every six months. This is conditioned on meticulous home care that includes proper use of an electronic toothbrush, daily flossing and other recommendations by their dental hygienist. Use of alcohol, smoking and drugs with side effects like dry mouth directly affect the time recommended between professional dental cleanings and evaluations.

Neglect of the teeth can result in the following within a relatively brief time:

Losing teeth
Skipping a visit to the dentist can easily lead to the loss of teeth. Studies show that decay leading to an active carious lesion can happen in a period of six months. Hence, the recommendation to visit the dentist every six months is to catch tooth decay early.

Gum disease and bleeding gums
The symptoms aren’t always noticeable at first yet periodontal disease can lead to painful inflammation and loss of teeth. Gum disease, under the right conditions, can develop in a week. Untreated, it can progress rapidly and doesn’t follow any timeline.

Stained teeth and bad breath
Regularly smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking staining beverages like red wine or coffee causes tooth discoloration. Build-up of stain, bio-film and debris leads to bad breath and no one wants that.

Vital information on oral cancers:
Between 2007 and 2011, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the incidence or number of new oropharyngeal cancer cases increased in white males, held steady in white females and decreased in black males and females. The ACS reports the increase in incidence in white males is due to an increase in cancers of the base of the tongue and tonsils associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Head and neck and intraoral examinations, or oral cancer screening, are crucial elements of a complete patient assessment and should be performed on a routine basis for every patient, not just new patients or those with known risk factors.

A complete head and neck and intraoral examination is not only important for the early detection of cancer but also for accomplishing a comprehensive assessment of the patient prior to providing dental treatment. https://www.dentalcare.com

*Very recent data (late 2008-2011) leads us to believe that the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population are non-smokers under the age of fifty, which would indicate a paradigm shift in the cause of the disease, and in the locations where it most frequently occurs in the oral environment. The anterior of the mouth, tobacco and alcohol associated cancers have declined along with a corresponding decline in smoking, and posterior of the oral cavity sites associated with the HPV16 viral cause are increasing. http://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/

Oral cancer screening devices should be part of routine dental evaluations. ViziLite® Plus with TBlue® (Zila tolonium chloride) is an oral cancer screening system that was developed to help oral healthcare professionals identify, evaluate, monitor and mark abnormal oral lesions suspicious for pathology, including precancerous cells and cancer that may be difficult to see during a regular visual exam.  

Because changes in the profile of the typical oral cancer patient have shifted from the long-time smoker or tobacco user to the 50-and-under crowd who may have cancer from the HPV16 virus, it is imperative that dentists as healthcare providers shift their thinking of the routine dental visit.

Remove the perception of “routine” and “just a cleaning” from the thought processes of the dental team. Educate the team to realize the changing role of the vital dental evaluation and professional teeth cleaning for total health and wellbeing of patients.

For professional training in communication with patients, enroll in one of McKenzie Managements front office/management business training courses today. Details can be found HERE.  

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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