We know that scaling and root planing (SRP) is an integral part of periodontal therapy, and it offers the best hope for improving periodontal health and preventing further destruction of the periodontium. But what happens when patients refuse to sign on to the treatment plan? How do we convince them that SRP is key to maintaining oral health?
Stacy Matsuda, RDH, BS, MS, a Dimensions of Dental Hygiene Editorial Advisory Board member and clinical instructor at Portland’s Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry with more than 30 years of periodontal experience, has some suggestions if the patient’s complain revolves around discomfort with the procedure.
“Reinforce the value of treatment, beginning with the periodontal-systemic health connection and the challenges inherent in eradicating every trace of pathogenic biofilm. Let the patient know it is our duty as licensed practitioners to provide evidence-based treatment protocols that ensure he or she is receiving the maximum benefit provided by professional debridement. After data collection and review of the findings, your treatment presentation may include the reasoning behind your debridement plans. Patients who understand the rationale supporting your treatment approach are more likely to accept it without complaint.”
Dimensions Editor in Chief Jill Rethman, RDH, BA, also has this advice in how to explain the disease process to patients who may be reticent to underdo regular scaling and root planing.
“A main component of treatment success is effective communication. Patients need to understand that while their current oral health status may be stable, it’s possible that periodontal breakdown could recur. One of the risk factors for developing a future periodontal disease condition is past history of periodontitis. So if this concept could be explained to patients it may make it easier for them to understand why a cure isn’t possible. It’s confusing to think of periodontitis as a “disease” when in reality it’s not just one “disease” but numerous destructive conditions. When patients hear the word “disease’ they think a cure is possible. Explain how periodontal conditions are more like syndromes with periods of flare-ups and periods of remission. With appropriate self-care and professional measures, it’s possible to control the flare-ups and to keep the destructive process under control.”