'Blueprints' for hygiene care: Rutledge’s course helps identify nonsurgical perio cases

The practice of dental hygiene has changed in exciting but alarming ways in 2015. The hygienist keeping current on new procedures and research can be overwhelmed with implementation challenges. Colleen Rutledge, RDH, has developed a number of programs to assist the hygienist, and thus the entire team, to focus on what matters and how it impacts the most important priority in the practice: the patient.

BY ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

The practice of dental hygiene has changed in exciting but alarming ways in 2015. The hygienist keeping current on new procedures and research can be overwhelmed with implementation challenges. Colleen Rutledge, RDH, has developed a number of programs to assist the hygienist, and thus the entire team, to focus on what matters and how it impacts the most important priority in the practice: the patient.

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Other articles by DePalma

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Colleen believes that her programs can be career-changing, improve patient care, and increase practice income. Her program, "Blueprints to Exceed Today's Hygiene Standard of Care," is a full-day presentation designed to help hygienists and dentists unearth hidden nonsurgical therapy cases from their charts. After participating in the course, participants will:

  • Incorporate periodontal diagnostics into existing hygiene departments
  • Understand host modulation and risk assessments
  • Understand the rationale for the use of locally-applied antimicrobials (LAAs)
  • Use hands-on technique tips for placing several LAA agents
  • Appreciate the benefits of magnification
  • Discover the importance of ultrasonics, with an emphasis on piezoelectric technology
  • Integrate the latest oral hygiene products to improve patient care
  • Discuss client case studies with periodontal charting and treatment planning exercises to incorporate new ideas into their practice

Colleen also offers a number of other programs designed to maximize the hygienist's skills and improve patient care. These programs, offered in a variety of formats, include:

  • "Treatment Planning: Nonsurgical Periodontal Therapy Cases: Hands-On" - Reviews the creation of consistent periodontal screening and risk assessment analysis for team use
  • "Incorporating Locally-Applied Antimicrobials: Easy Steps to Patient Compliance" - Presents the rationale and hands-on technique for the use of LAAs
  • "What's New in Ultrasonics: Exploring Piezoelectric Technology" - Discusses power scaling vs. hand scaling, the unique capabilities of piezoelectric ultrasonic scalers, and the benefits of magnification, irrigation, and periodontal gels
  • "Death of the Cleaning Woman: Changing Our Clinical and Professional Image" - Explores participants' visions for their career, nontraditional opportunities, and increasing one's professional value.

In addition to her CE programs, Colleen travels the country offering in-office clinical hygiene consulting services for any general dental practice. Her consulting process begins with a presentation of the fundamental concepts of contemporary periodontal therapeutics so that the entire team can be on the same page on the first day of her consultation. The second and third days are designed as learning labs, similar to a teaching hospital model, where the theories presented on the first day are put into action with patients at the practice. Patients are prescreened and hygienists work alongside Colleen to provide nonsurgical periodontal therapies. Additionally, she will work with the administrative team to provide support on insurance filing, fees, codes, and proper scheduling. Colleen provides a six-month follow-up visit to the practice, as well as monthly conference calls with the doctor and team. She also provides training manuals for current and future team members.

Colleen began her journey in dentistry over 30 years ago, after completing a dental assisting externship at Temple University, and as a student and class president of the National School of Health Technology. She so enjoyed dentistry that she pursued a degree in dental hygiene from Coastal Carolina Community College in North Carolina, and was the recipient of the Hu-Friedy Golden Scaler Award for her class.

Having been employed in a variety of practices, she started implementing what she had learned from CE courses and reading journals. Much of the techniques and materials in contemporary periodontal therapy procedures were very different from what she had learned in dental hygiene school. Her interest in the latest techniques was ignited when she saw how these new techniques positively affected clinical outcomes and patient care. She felt the time had come to spread the word beyond her own patients and established her company, Perio-Therapeutics & Beyond, to provide evidence-based seminars and in-office consulting programs. To enhance individuals and teams, the programs and consulting have expanded over the years into a product line of CDs and DVDs.

Colleen describes herself as hard-working, compassionate, and sincere. If she was not a hygienist and consultant, she would choose to be a full-time mother and wife, be more involved in her parish church, and to volunteer at organizations helping those in need. Her family and faith are her passions, along with educating and inspiring dental professionals. She feels clinical hygiene is a combination of nurse and teacher - two careers that she had considered as a young child. The hours, flexibility, and pay of a dental hygiene career have been very conducive to family life.

Colleen's favorite part of the "privilege of the podium" is being able to positively affect the careers of other dental professionals by sharing her knowledge and experiences. She dislikes the amount of time it takes to prepare for presentations - it is much more time consuming than she could have imagined. Her greatest career accomplishment has been the development of her CD and DVD product line, especially the "Do-It-Yourself Dental Hygiene Department Consulting Kit." The CDs and DVDs are approved for CEU, and in addition to the hygiene consulting kit, include topics such as piezo ultrasonics, nonsurgical periodontal therapies, antimicrobials, and administrative support forms, letters, and narratives. Dentistry Today has recognized her for seven consecutive years as a "Leader in Dental Consulting." Many of her clients and course participants marvel at how she can transform the most complex periodontal theories into real-life knowledge and everyday, real-world, patient-focused initiatives. Her information enhances revenue and career satisfaction by increasing the variety of hygiene services, while also improving patient health and revitalizing the whole team to provide quality services.

Colleen's drive for excellence in patient care and education is exceptional. As one of her clients stated, "She is a true diamond in hygiene training and her courses and consulting are the best investment that an individual and practice can make in advancing their own education and patient care." As a friend, I am privileged to second that sentiment.

For more information about Colleen or her programs, contact colleen@perioandbeyond.com.

Thought for the month:

"Today is your day to paint life in bold colors; set today's rhythm with your heart-drum; walk today's march with courage; create today as your celebration of life." - Jonathan Lockwood Huie RDH

Puff, Not the Magic Dragon

This month's ineedce.com course is "Puff, Not the Magic Dragon ... The Cost of America's Tobacco Use." RDH readers can receive a 50% discount when using the code ANMAR15. Regular fee is $59, with discount $29.50. Valid through Apr 23, 2015.

Puff, Not the Magic Dragon ... The Cost of America's Tobacco Use

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death in the United States. Even with the increased cost of tobacco products, increase in anti-tobacco media campaigns, and smoke-free laws for workplaces and public places, almost 20% of Americans still continue to use tobacco. Dental professionals are in an ideal position to directly influence tobacco use among their patients. This course will present tobacco use statistics, tobacco's effects on the human body, and nicotine pharmacology as they relate to cessation programs. The contents of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and snus will be discussed.


ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at amrdh@aol.com.

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