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The Second Very Important Dental Practice Lesson…

This morning’s important dental practice lesson involved a story about my “fancy schmancy” doctor, the one I pay a hefty quarterly fee just to be a patient of. If you missed it, don’t worry – this will still make perfect sense.

A few days ago my VIP doc sent an email to his patient base about the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease. The subject line was “The Surprising Link Between Your Teeth and Your Heart!” The email talks about the importance of brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits to make sure your gums are healthy. He went on to cite a case study of one of his patients. This patient was recovering very poorly from a stroke. The doc suspected perio disease to be a factor, and sure enough, a dental referral and perio therapy was a significant factor in bringing this patient back to health.

But as sunshiny as it sounds, I’m not telling you this story so that we can all pat ourselves on the back.

More and more people are understanding the important relationship between oral health and overall wellness. Even our esteemed MD colleagues are joining in – and it’s about time! That’s why it simply blows my mind that so many dental practices aren’t doing everything they can to diagnose and treat periodontal disease.

Sure, it’s easier to concentrate on restorative dentistry. It’s more tangible to patients, and for most of us, more fun to treat. But if you don’t have a solid periodontal therapy program and philosophy in your practice, well, you are actually complicit in not treating your patients completely and ethically. And no, “cleaning ladies” and bloody prophies don’t cut it!

So where do you start? As with most things, the first step is knowledge. You need to know some important data points, such as what percentage of patients in your practice are involved in perio therapy (if you’re like most practices it’s pretty low), how many patients are turning down proposed treatment, and how many patients need to be reactivated so they can begin treatment (this figure is usually mind-blowing)! Want to find out? It’s easy! Just go to madow.com/numbers. You’ll be able to learn a lot more about the importance of these “Key Performance Indicators” in your practice and what they mean.

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