By JONATHAN FINE
Last week a column by Simon entitled How To Double Your Hygienist Fees that suggested ways to modernise hygiene appointments with systemic health checks was published on Dentistry.co.uk.
It provoked a fascinating mix of comments underneath. Several hygienists who posted were angry at his portrayal of their profession as backward and said they simply didn’t get enough time to do their job properly, never mind BMI checks. One, posting as Anon, said:
“Screening services such as blood pressure, blood sugar and Cholestertol [sic] do not form part of our scope of practice and we are not qualified to provide these. Unfortunately most of us are being undercut by dentists who don’t value their hygienists and are just concerned by the bottom line and peers who desperate for work in a competitive market place accept conditions that are far from Ideal [sic] both in terms of remuneration and support.”
A dentist posting as expat declared: “There is no way I as a dentist (who fortunately doesn’t work in the UK anymore) would recommend any of my hygienist colleagues to get involved with something like this with the current litigious climate in the UK.”
In reality progressive dental practices we work with already do all this. It’s the way things are going and highly trained hygienists and therapists will one day also be seen as critical points of contact for people who need to be referred to a GP for diabetes, heart disease or dementia and who would otherwise fall through the cracks. It’s all part of dentistry’s journey to a more central position in people’s conception of their health, away from the old conception of it as somehow separate to general health.
The data is already there and it’s getting more compelling: the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) says periodontitis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and the 15 per cent of UK adults with severe periodontitis may have an increased risk of diabetes (for a full run down see www.efp.org/efp-manifesto/manifesto.html).
So the real question is, why aren’t you giving your hygienists and therapists longer appointments to do much more for your patients? You will in the end, so why not start now?
Let me know if I can help.